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Friday, September 16, 2016

Cat Women of the Moon


Cat-Women of the Moon
1953
Arthur Hilton

[Frustrated by the lack of 3D in this 3D movie, I made this week's groan inducing captioned photos in anaglyph 3D. Bust out your red/blue glasses and give them a try!]

Mankind’s first journey to the moon  is staffed by, the stiffest captain in cinema, Laird (Sonny Tufts), a lecherous goof, Kip (Victor Joy), a scam artist looking to make a quick buck, Walt Walters (Douglas Fowley) , a reckless half-wit, Doug (William Phipps), and a lone women who as to put up with their nonsense, Helen (Marie Windsor). Helen is acting a little weird, mentioning someone named Alpha, and knowing the exact coordinates of where to land.  Turns out that Helen has been telepathically contacted by a group of women who live on the moon. Their leader Alpha (Carol Brewster) wants Helen to dispose of her crewmates and help the Cat-Women escape to Earth.

Walt Disney puts the moves on a Cat-Woman
There’s a sub-genre of SF where a band of astronauts land on a planet only to be confronted with beautiful women. If Cat-Women of the Moon isn’t the first film in this sub-genre (that probably goes to the Russian film, Aelita (1924), it could be the most archetypal. It has all the questionable science, more questionable gender attitudes, and plenty of the gee-wiz thrill of exploring space present in 1950s science fiction film.

The biggest failing of Cat-Women of the Moon are the characters, every male is either, irritating, stupid, or both. Even the lead, Kip, whom we are supposed to sympathize with, is unabashedly drooling over Helen every chance he gets. Laird is so by-the-book it quickly gets to the point where it feels unrealistic. The less the said about the money grubbing Walt Walters, the better. Also, who the hell is lazy enough to name a character Walt Walters?

For all its numerous flaws there are a few moments that work very well. Helen’s first message over the radio, “Hello, Alpha we’re on our way,” has a haunting overtone that lends the first few moments on the moon, with its desolate caves and strangely empty city, some real mystery. The movie decides to interrupt this unusually brooding moment with a giant spider attack, but that has its own kind of charm.

Attack of the Giant Leeches 2000

I watched the Rhino 3-D release of this film. Rhino’s presentation cobbles together what surviving 3-D scenes still exist and mixes them with a standard 2-D presentation. Maybe I was spoiled by their release of Robot Monster (1953) and its unusually good anaglyph 3-D, but the 3-D in this film is abysmal. The constant switching back and forth between versions was aggravating at best. Thankfully, the movie barely clocks in at over and hour, a little longer and it would have been headache inducing.

Give a Cat Women of the Moon a try, if you’re in the mood for some unabashed 1950s pulp SF. It’s short enough to not be too bothersome and there are some moments to be enjoyed. I would maybe forgo the 3-D version, since it isn’t complete and barely works. If you’re looking for a superior ‘Planet of Women’ film from 1953, you might be better off watching, Abbot and Costello Go to Mars (1953).

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