ICFIFC: Two Films, One Script

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Monday, October 6, 2014

ICFIFC: Two Films, One Script

Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)

  • Genre: Adventure – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Arthur Hilton
  • Produced:
    • Jack Rabin  
    • Al Zimbalist
  • Written:
    • Al Zimbalist  
    • Jack Rabin  
    • Roy Hamilton
  • Starring: Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, Marie Windsor, William Phipps, Douglas Fowley, Carol Brewster, Susan Morrow, Suzanne Alexander, Bette Arlen, Roxann Delman, Ellye Marshall, Judy Walsh
  • Music: Elmer Bernstein
  • Cinematography: William P. Whitley
  • Editing: John A. Bushelman
  • Studio: Z-M Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Astor Pictures Corporation  
    • Rhino Home Video  
    • Englewood Entertainment  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • Gaiam Americas  
    • The Nostalgia Merchant  
    • Something Weird Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 3 September 1953 (USA)
  • Running Time: 64 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

An expedition to the moon encounters a race of "Cat-Women," the last eight survivors of a 2-million-year-old civilization, deep within a cave where they have managed to maintain the remnants of a breathable atmosphere that once covered the moon.  The remaining air will soon be gone and they must escape if they are to survive.  They plan to steal the expedition's spaceship and return to Earth.

Through the use of their telepathic ability the Cat-Women have been subliminally controlling Helen Salinger so she can win the navigator slot on the expedition and lead the crew to their location.  Once Helen and the male members of the crew arrive on the moon the Cat-Women take complete control of her mind.  They are unable to control the men's minds, but they work around this obstacle with Helen's help and the use of their superior abilities and feminine wiles.  "Show us their weak points," one says to Helen.  "We'll take care of the rest."

Along with telepathy, the Cat-Women have the ability to transport themselves unseen from place to place within the cave.  They use this ability to steal the crew's spacesuits from the mouth of the cave, where they were left unguarded.

Using Helen to smooth things over after an earlier failed attack on the crew, the Cat-Women approach the men openly.  Food and drink are brought out and a party ensues. Kip is suspicious after discovering the spacesuits are missing and confronts the Cat-Women's leader Alpha, who promises to return the suits in the morning.  Kip sits alone, unable to intervene while the Cat-Women exploit the "weak points" of expedition commander Laird and the other men.

Soon the Cat-Women have learned how to operate the spaceship and are well on their way to success.  But Lambda falls in love with crew member Doug and tells him of the plot.  Carrying three spacesuits, Alpha, Beta and Helen make a break for the ship.  Lambda teleports ahead to delay them and is killed by Beta.  Kip catches up and fires several shots; Alpha and Beta are killed and Helen is uninjured.  The expedition escapes and begins their return trip to Earth.

Upon the film's release, Variety magazine wrote: "This imaginatively conceived and produced science-fiction yarn [an original story by producers Zimbalist and Rabin] takes the earth-to-moon premise and embellishes it with a civilization of cat-women on the moon...Cast ably portray their respective roles…Arthur Hilton makes his direction count in catching the spirit of the theme, and art direction is far above average for a film of this caliber.  William Whitley's 3-D photography provides the proper eerie quality."

According to a December 9, 1953 Daily Variety news item, Z-M Productions filed a lawsuit against the My Little Margie radio show.  The claim stated that a writer from the radio show, who was on the set during the Cat-Women of the Moon production, stole the plot of the film and satirized it in a broadcast in which characters viewed a film called Cat Women from Outer Space.  The final outcome of the lawsuit has not been determined.  The New York Times wrote: "They (The Cat-women) try to get their hands on the visitors' rocket ship, hoping to come down here and hypnotize us all.  Considering the delegation that went up, it's hard to imagine why."  Cat-Women was remade five years later (1958) as Missile to the Moon.



Missile to the Moon (1958)

  • Genre: Drama – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Richard E. Cunha
  • Produced: Marc Frederic
  • Written:
    • H.E. Barrie  
    • Vincent Fotre
  • Starring: Richard Travis, Cathy Downs, K.T. Stevens, Tommy Cook, Nina Bara, Gary Clarke, Michael Whalen, Laurie Mitchell, Leslie Parrish, Henry Hunter, Lee Roberts, Pat Mowry, Tania Velia, Sanita Pelkey, Lisa Simone, Marianne Gaba, Renate Hoy, Mary Ford
  • Music: Nicholas Carras
  • Cinematography: Meredith M. Nicholson
  • Editing: Everett Dodd
  • Studio: Layton Film Productions Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • Astor Pictures Corporation  
    • Astral Films  
    • Rhino Home Video  
    • Englewood Entertainment  
    • Legend Films  
    • Desert Island Films  
    • Media Home Entertainment  
    • Something Weird Video  
    • Thriller Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 15 November 1958 (USA)
  • Running Time: 78 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

Missile to the Moon is an independently produced 1958 black-and-white (and colorized at some point) science fiction film directed by Richard E. Cunha that was distributed by Astor Pictures; it is an even lower budget remake of 1953's low budget Cat-Women of the Moon, following very closely the plot details of that earlier film.

Two escaped convicts, Gary and Lon, are discovered hiding aboard a rocket by scientist Dirk Green, who then forces them to pilot the spaceship to the Moon (because part of rehabilitation is rocket pilot training?).  Dirk, who is secretly a Moon man, wants to return home.  Dick's partner, Steve Dayton, accompanied by his fiancĂ© June, accidentally stowaway on board just before the rocket's launch (So much for that fuel amount for weight ratio crap!).  Moon man Dirk is later killed in a meteor storm during the lunar trip.  Once they land on the Moon, the spaceship's reluctant crew encounter an underground kingdom of beautiful women and their sinister female ruler The Lido, giant lunar spiders, and mysterious surface dwelling, slow-moving, bi-pedal rock creatures.

The multiple Moon spiders seen during the film are the same large prop spider being wire-controlled from overhead; this is exactly the same prop spider used five years earlier in the original Cat-Women of the Moon.  The lunar landscape used in the film is Vasquez Rocks located near Los Angeles, a popular television and feature film shooting location, you might know it from that Star Trek Gorn episode “Arena”.

The lunar surface exteriors were shot in regular Earth daylight and gravity; no attempt is made to convince the viewer the Moon is an airless void where humans would weigh one-sixth their normal Earth weight.  When one of the Earth convicts is forced by a large Moon rock creature to step into direct sunlight, his spacesuit literally bursts into flames in the airless void from the supposedly very high lunar temperatures, reducing the felon inside to a burning skeleton.

The large, slow-moving Moon rock creatures have a passing resemblance to the character design and shape used for Gumby, the popular 1956 to 1962 syndicated stop motion clay animation kid's show character of the same name, which ran on television for 233 episodes for nearly five decades.  Somehow I just connected schlock science fiction, Star Trek and Gumby all in the same article, I am awesome!

Not getting any less offensive by the way.

Sources:

All Images Found Via Google Image Search

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