Nude on the Moon

Tagged: Film

Film (1961). Moon Productions. Directed by Raymond Phelan and Doris Wishman. Written by Raymond Phelan and Doris Wishman. Starring Lester Brown, Walter Meyer, Marietta. 83 minutes. Colour.

While waiting to hear whether the government will finance his proposed rocket to the Moon, brilliant young Scientist Jeff Huntley (Brown) inherits three million dollars from his uncle and tells his colleague and mentor, the "Professor" (Meyer), that he can now pay for the project himself. Totally dedicated to science, Huntley fails to realize that his beautiful secretary Cathy (Marietta) is in love with him. After six months of work, Huntley and the Professor take off in their completed Spaceship, and though they oddly fall asleep as they approach the Moon, they awaken to find that they have landed safely. They emerge at the "bottom of a crater" to discover surprisingly Earthlike conditions, including a blue sky and lush vegetation, though they continue to wear their spacesuits and to rely upon their thirteen-hour oxygen supply. They are soon taken captive by members of a colony of nearly naked men and women who communicate by Telepathy, but their queen (Marietta) is sure that they are friendly and orders their release. Huntley and the Professor then devote themselves to taking notes and taking photographs of the peaceful moon people and their surroundings while Huntley falls in love with the queen. When it is time for them to leave, Huntley initially insists upon staying, but the queen, recognizing that he must leave, sedates him so that the Professor can escort him back to their spaceship. Since the men forgot to retrieve their camera and brought no physical evidence, no one on Earth believes their story, but Huntley, now recognizing that Cathy resembles the moon queen, is happy to embrace her as his lover.

Despite the large numbers of bare-breasted Moon women on display, nothing else about this once-scandalous film will strike contemporary audiences as particularly pornographic. (Also, since everyone wears shorts, only two briefly-observed children are actually "nude on the Moon".) What now seems striking is the extraordinary amount of time that the film devotes to its preparations for the moon flight, including lengthy scientific discussions, which indicates that the filmmakers were determined to honour the conventions of the Spacesuit Film even if it meant delaying the appearance of the topless women who represented the film's raison d'etre. And even though its depiction of conditions on the Moon is outrageously inaccurate, the film does endeavour to explain the discrepancy between lunar realities and its idyllic setting in two ways, suggesting both that the whole experience might have been a dream and, if it did occur, that the men might have landed somewhere other than the Moon. As it happens, it is fortunate that these men did not land on the actual Moon, since their flimsy spacesuits would have provided no protection against the lunar vacuum. [GW]

Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.