Cat-Women of the Moon is an independently made 1953 American black-and-white science fiction film, produced by Jack Rabin and Al Zimbalist, directed by Arthur Hilton and starring Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, and Marie Windsor. The film was released by Astor Pictures.
Noteably, the musical score was composed by Elmer Bernstein, though his last name is misspelled as "Bernstien" in the opening credits.
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 migrate to Earth.
Through the use of their telepathic ability, the Cat-Women have been subliminally controlling Helen Salinger (Marie Windsor) 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 in their living space. They use this ability to steal the crew's spacesuits from the mouth of their 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 (Victor Jory) is suspicious after discovering the spacesuits are missing; he confronts the Cat-Women's leader Alpha (Carol Brewster), 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 (Sonny Tufts) 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 (Susan Morrow) falls in love with crew member Doug (William Phipps) and tells him of the plot. Carrying three spacesuits, Alpha, Beta, and Helen make a break for the spaceship. Lambda teleports ahead to delay them and is killed by Beta (Suzanne Alexander). Kip catches up and fires several shots, killing Alpha and Beta, while leaving Helen uninjured. In short order the expedition manages to escape and begin the return trip to Earth.
Sonny Tufts as Laird Grainger
Victor Jory as Kip Reissner
Marie Windsor as Helen Salinger
William Phipps as Doug Smith
Douglas Fowley as Walt Walters
Carol Brewster as Alpha
Suzanne Alexander as Beta
Susan Morrow as Lambda
Bette Arlen as Cat-Woman
Roxann Delman as Cat-Woman
Ellye Marshall as Cat-Woman
Judy Walsh as Cat-Woman
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 calibre. William Whitley's 3-D photography provides the proper eerie quality."
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."
A dual projection polarized 3-D print of Cat-Women of the Moon was shown at the 3-D Film Expo in September 2003 at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, and at the "3-D at the Castro" film festival October 17, 2006 at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
The 1995 VHS version from Englewood Entertainment, was released in the original red and green anaglyph 3D.
The first 2-D DVD version of the film was released by Image Entertainment.
Since 2007 The L. A. Connection improvisational comedy troupe regularly screens the film in its live "Dub-a-vision" performances.
Cat-Women of the Moon was used as the title of two programs about sex in science fiction broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August and September 2011. They were presented by the writer Sarah Hall, and produced in Manchester by Nicola Swords; they featured a number of British writers including Iain M. Banks, China Miéville, and Nicola Griffith.
Cat-Women was remade five years later (1958) as Missile to the Moon and was also released by Astor Pictures.