Film (1953; vt Rocket to the Moon). Z-M Productions. Directed by Arthur Hilton, starring Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, Marie Windsor. Writers Jack Rabin and Al Zimbalist (story); Roy Hamilton (screenplay). 64 minutes. Black-and-white.
Pioneering astronauts led by captain Laird Grainger (Tufts) land on the far side of the Moon, whereupon they promptly discover a cave with a breathable atmosphere and a civilization of beautiful, seductive women given to wearing sultry black leotards and engaging in modern dance. While they greet their visitors in a hospitable manner, their motives are actually sinister: they employed their Telepathic powers to force the crew's navigator, Helen Salinger (Windsor), to bring her crew to their vicinity so they could commandeer their spaceship and employ it to conquer the Earth. Fortunately, Grainger's crewmate Kip Reissner (Jory) correctly suspects that the women are up to no good, eventually enabling the astronauts to thwart the Aliens' evil plans and safely return to Earth. For added thrills, there is also a rather unconvincing giant spider lurking in the lunar caves. The film's credits acknowledge the use of Chesley Bonestell's moonscapes, but he was otherwise not involved in the production of the film.
An accurate plot summary sufficiently conveys the risible absurdity of this film, eliminating any need for further criticism, yet Cat-Women of the Moon also qualifies as one of the most influential science fiction films ever made: it was officially remade as Missile to the Moon (1958) (albeit with very different characters), and there were several unofficial homages in which astronauts discover decadent, all-female (or almost all-female) civilizations on other planets, including Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), Queen of Outer Space (1958), Nude on the Moon (1961), Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968), and the Mexican El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras (1967; vt Planet of the Female Invaders). (Technically, the first film with this scenario was Abbott and Costello Go to Mars , released a few months before Cat-Women of the Moon, which concluded with the comedians landing on an all-female Venus; but Cat-Women in the Moon actually established the patterns that other films would follow.) The reverse scenario of all-male alien civilizations lusting after Earth's most beautiful women would also be employed in films like Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (1965) and Mars Needs Women (1967), again allowing producers to offer male viewers the sexy silliness that they presumably preferred instead of scientific sobriety. [GW]
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