Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)
In mankind’s first mission to the moon, five astronauts (Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, “Queen of the ‘B’s” Marie Windsor, Douglas Fowley, and William Phipps) wake out of their space-sleep to run into some technical problems. One chemical fire later, and after some awkward astronaut-on-astronaut amorous confessions, the plot (thin as it is) thickens a bit. Into a lukewarm gruel. To everyone’s surprise, the sole woman on board (Helen) seems to be prone to some kind of psychic connection informing her of conditions on the moonscape, and the existence of possible inhabitants. The men on the crew kind of bicker and shake her by the arms and stuff for a bit, as they make their way on a rather vague mission.
Yes as is often the case in these sci-fi films, we have a token lady astronaut. Helen is so full of ladyness, the first thing she does after she wakes from cyber sleep is take out a comb and powder her nose. And, surprise surprise, she’s also also involved a love triangle. With two lumpy geezers (Tufts and Jory) wearing high-waisted pants unsuccessfully obfuscating their paunches. This kind of thing is so common in these films they all kinda blur together.
Once the group has landed on the dark side of the moon at a launch location Helen directs them to, they muddle through a tunnel for a bit. The group removes their helmets, is attacked by a couple spiders (one monster-spider puppet filmed twice), then stumbles upon a palatial manse housing an all-female group of sinister sexy ladies (the eponymous Cat-Women). The Cat-Women have a plot but being helpless ladies they need to resort to subterfuge and feminine wiles to make a play for world domination. Yadda yadda.
The film provides a meager body count, to try to raise the stakes. The final, climactic scene takes place offscreen.
I was surprised the movie struggled so much. It has many charms: beautiful women (the aforementioned Windsor and the “The Hollywood Cover Girls” playing the seven Cat-Women), 3D composition, some great matte paintings for moonscape, and hey – a pretty good monster-spider puppet. That said, the plot is plodding, the love triangle tepid, any 3D entirely wasted, the special effects underwhelming, and the obligatory “exotic dance” number decidedly unsexy. It’s a good popcorn flick or perhaps a cure for insomnia.
And of course, if you’re a black-and-white sci-fi bro like me, you’ve gotta watch it. Because it’s there.