Cat-Women of the Moon - 1953
Cat-Women of the Moon - Released Sept 3, 1953. Directed by Arthur Hilton.
Cat-Women of the Moon is deservedly laughable most of the way through the 64 minute run-time, but is often enjoyable for the unintended strangeness on screen. It has a rocket ship and cat-women in tights who perform a couple of exotic dances that might have fit easily into a twentieth-century Vegas floor show, and in many ways the film seems like a botched version of a less than steller episode of the 1960s Star Trek TV show.
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.
Though we do have sci-fi sets for Cat-Women of the Moon, most of the time we are watching melodrama and petty leadership conflicts, along with a brusque love-triangle that has Marie Windsor in the middle between Victor Jory and Sonny Tufts, and most of that conflict seems lifted from romance back-stories from military films (and not sci-fi, where love is usually tangled up in science problems and theories competing with emotions).
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) dumbly figure out what is happening. When it finally dawns upon them the threat the leotarded women pose, the men recognize the issue is chiefly psychological though not particularly well defined in the script for Cat-Women of the Moon.
Marie Windsor complicates this mostly mundane tale as a girl stuck in the middle of a war of the sexes (and species) who eventually has to declare for which guy she really loves (and which specie she trusts). 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.
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