Mars Needs Women
|Mars Needs Women|
|Directed by||Larry Buchanan|
|Produced by||Larry Buchanan|
|Written by||Larry Buchanan|
|Narrated by||Larry Buchanan|
|Music by||Ronald Stein|
|Edited by||Larry Buchanan|
|Distributed by||American International Television|
Mars Needs Women is a 1967 American science fiction film independently made by Azalea Pictures that was produced, written, and directed by self-proclaimed schlock artist/auteur Larry Buchanan, and stars Tommy Kirk, Yvonne Craig, and Byron Lord. The film was syndicated directly to television without a theatrical release by American International Pictures.
In 1966 a U. S. military station in Houston, the United States Decoding Service (U.S.D.S.), NASA Wing, has intercepted a message. After decoding, the message contains only the cryptic statement: "Mars ... Needs ... Women".
Martians have developed a genetic deficiency that now produces only male children. A mission to Earth is launched, consisting of five Martian males, led by Dop (Tommy Kirk). The team intends to recruit Earth women to come to Mars to mate and produce female offspring, saving their civilization from extinction; the team finally selects their prospective candidates. Using their sophisticated transponder, Dop attempts to make contact with the military, who have now tracked their arrival on Earth.
The U. S. military eventually views the Martians as invaders, so the team takes on the guise of Earth men, acquiring human clothes, money, maps, and transportation. They quickly set their sights on four women: a Homecoming Queen, a stewardess, a stripper, and, most especially, a Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist, Dr. Bolen (Yvonne Craig), an expert in "space genetics". Resorting to hypnosis, the women are captured, but Dop quickly becomes enamored with Dr. Bolen; soon he is ready to sabotage their mission to Earth for her. After the military discover their hideout, the Martians are forced to return home without their female captives.
Mars still needs women.
Main roles and screen credits:
- Tommy Kirk (as Dop, Martian Fellow #1/Mr. Fast, a Seattle Sun reporter)
- Yvonne Craig (as Dr. Marjorie Bolen)
- Warren Hammack (as Martian Doctor/Fellow #2)
- Tony Huston (as Martian Fellow #3, billed as Anthony Huston)
- Larry Tanner (as Martian Fellow #4)
- Cal Duggan (as Martian Fellow #5)
- Pat Delaney (as artist abductee)
- Sherry Roberts (as Brenda Knowlan, abductee)
- Donna Lindberg (as Stewardess, abductee)
- "Bubbles" Cash (as Stripper, abductee) [Note 1]
- Byron Lord (as Col. Bob Page, U.S.D.S.)
- Roger Ready (as Stimmons)
- Barnett Shaw (as Man at military conference)
- Neil Fletcher (as Secretary of Defense)
- Chet Davis (as network news reporter)
Kirk called the film "undoubtedly one of the stupidest motion pictures ever made. How I got talked into it, I don't know."
Kirk had previously played a Martian seeking Earth women in AIP's Pajama Party (1964). He had made his mark as a Disney child star, but after being fired, was hoping to revive his career with Mars Needs Women treating it as a serious project, to the extent of rewriting some of his dialogue. Reportedly, Buchanan allowed Kirk to create his own soliloquy for his scene in a planetarium (at Dallas Fair Park) as he explains that his world is dying.[Note 2]
Over a short, two-week shooting schedule, Buchanan shot Mars Needs Women in his hometown of Dallas, pretending it to be Houston. Faced with his usual meager budget, he resorted to using available spaces, including office buildings, to serve as NASA headquarters. Typical shoddy "B" movie production values are evident throughout the film. Southland Life Insurance Building is clearly visible as the Martians drive among the humans. Other prominent Dallas landmarks, including Southern Methodist University, are also featured. Footage from a SMU Homecoming game is used, and the Homecoming Queen is one of the Martian's "recruits". Footage was also shot at Dallas Fair Park (Planetarium, Lagoon, and Science Building). Additional footage was shot at Dallas Love Field, where a man is shown reading the Houston Chronicle, and at the Gypsy Room on Harry Hines Blvd. One scene with dancer Bubbles Cash was shot at an actual Dallas Striptease bar "The Athens Strip", located on what is now Lower Greenville Ave. Other scenes were shot inside the empty White Rock Lake Pumphouse, once used when the lake was a city water source (the City of Dallas Water Dept eventually converted the building to offices on the southwest end of White Rock Lake). The scene at the NASA "Space Center" was filmed in Richardson, TX, north of Dallas, in the Antenna Building, which belonged to Collins Radio, a NASA contractor; their large radio satellite dish antennas can be seen in some background shots.
Mars Needs Women is padded with long sequences taken from stock aviation footage (the North American X-15 spacecraft being launched from its Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress mother ship and General Dynamics F-111 fighter-bomber in particular). Due to poor lighting, parts of the film were made by undercranking the camera and having the actors move more slowly, sometimes shooting at 18 or 12 frames per second instead of the usual 24. Actors also stretched out scenes with long sequences with no dialogue, either walking or doing menial tasks. One lengthy scene involves the camera focused on a loudspeaker.
Although originally intended for theatrical release, Mars Needs Women was distributed directly to television by American International. The film subsequently met a receptive late night viewing audience, becoming a perfect example of the cult film, where all the unintended hilarity comes from the film's overly serious approach, "cheesy" production values, and ludicrous plot.
One of the film's more notable fans was Frank Zappa, who referenced the film in the title of an instrumental composition, "Manx Needs Women," which was regularly performed by Zappa in concert in 1976; recordings of the song's performances appear on Zappa's albums Zappa In New York and Philly '76.
In the early 1990s Buchanan announced a sequel was in development at Universal Pictures with John Avnet and Jordan Kerner. It was intended to be "a sophisticated romantic comedy based on the ideas first set forth in the original." The film was never made.
- Although an amateur actress, "Bubbles" Cash was a well-known Dallas area stripper.
- On the laserdisc commentary, Kirk elaborated that his speech was an homage to the address to Earth by Michael Rennie in the earlier classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
- Craig's resume included starring with Elvis Presley, as well as being featured in many television roles.
- Nixon, Rob. "Article: Mars Needs Women." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Ray 1991, p. 53.
- "Mars Needs Women (1967)." IMDb. Retrieved: June 21, 2012.
- "Credits: Mars Needs Women." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p238
- Minton, Kevin, "Sex, Lies, and Disney Tape: Walt’s Fallen Star", Filmfax Issue 38, April 1993 p 70
- "Bio: Tommy Kirk." Disney, 2012. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Dietrich, Christopher. "Review: Mars Needs Women." dvddrive-in.com. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- "Yvonne Craig Movies, Yvonne Craig Films, Yvonne Craig TV Shows." Tv.com, December 31, 1969. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Scheib, Richard. "Mars Needs Women, Rating: One Star." moria.co, 2012. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Video on YouTube
- Goodsell, Greg. "The Weird and Wacky World of Larry Buchanan". Filmfax, No. 38, April/May 1993, p. 60.
- Ray, Fred Olen. The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers, 1991. ISBN 978-0-8995-0628-9.
- Mars Needs Women at AllMovie
- Mars Needs Women at the Internet Movie Database
- Mars Needs Women at the TCM Movie Database