Cat-Women of the Moon - 1953

Cat-Women of the Moon - Released Sept 3, 1953. Directed by Arthur Hilton.

Astronauts from earth land on the dark side of the moon and discover a race of "cat-women" who are what's left from a population that once ruled the surface millions of years before. From their ruined city they've been using a secret hypnotic power to lure the space explorers closer (primarily through mind-control over astronaut Marie Windsor as navigator Helen Salinger). Though the cat-women are hospitable and friendly, they've got a plan to steal the rocketship of the visiting earth-people and go to earth and rebuild their population (there's only eight of them left) and to, of course, rule (after-all, they're cats).

Low-budget sci-fi effort makes do with corrugated steel for the inside walls of a rocketship that is cylindrical on the outside but a square movie set on the inside. Stationed in rolling office chairs the small crew mimics the stress of space travel with rather limited success. The set design includes office desks and empty tape reels mounted on the wall, apparently to imply the action of reel-to-reel supercomputers of the 1950s.

Melodrama and petty leadership conflicts consume most of the script, along with a brusque love-triangle that has Marie Windsor in the middle between Victor Jory and Sonny Tufts, and most of their conflict seems lifted from the military film genre. As an unwilling double-agent working for the moon's cat-women who have powers of mind-control over the female brain, Windsor and the leotard clad cat-women struggle for dominance while the men try to (mostly unsuccessfully) figure out what is happening, and then they are also entered into the fight, which is chiefly psychological but not particularly well defined in Cat-Women of the Moon.

Desert and caves are used as moon-landscape and there are small bits of science thrown in, but Cat-Women of the Moon is mired in following the plot of any number of World War II era combat films about a squad in hostile territory and how internal bickering and jealousy jeopardizes everyone. The twist with this film is the addition of a rocket ship, cat-women in tights (they do a couple of exotic, for 1953, coordinated dances), and Marie Windsor complicating the rather mundane matter which is deservedly laughable most of the way through the 64 minute run-time.

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