Cat-Women of the Moon

Cat-Women of the Moon is an independently made 1953 American black-and-white three-dimensional science-fiction film, produced by Jack Rabin and Al Zimbalist, directed by Arthur Hilton, that stars Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, and Marie Windsor. The film was released by Astor Pictures.

Cat-Women of the Moon
Theatrical release half-sheet display poster
Directed byArthur Hilton
Produced byJack Rabin
Al Zimbalist
Written byRoy Hamilton
StarringSonny Tufts
Victor Jory
Marie Windsor
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyWilliam P. Whitley
Edited byJohn A. Bushelman
Distributed byAstor Pictures
Release date
  • September 3, 1953 (1953-09-03)
Running time
64 minutes
CountryUnited States

Notably, the musical score was composed by Academy Award–winner Elmer Bernstein,[1] though his last name is misspelled as "Bernstien" in the opening credits.


A scientific expedition to the Moon encounters a race of cat-women, the last survivors of a two-million-year-old lunar civilization. Residing deep within a Moon cavern, where they have managed to maintain not only the remnants of a breathable atmosphere and Earth-like gravity, but also a pair of gigantic Moonspiders, the cat-women wear black unitards, have beehive hairstyles, and wear elaborate cosmetics. Realizing that their remaining atmosphere will soon be exhausted, the cat-women plan to steal the expedition's spaceship, migrate to Earth, and in the words of the cat-women's queen, Alpha (Carol Brewster), "We will get their women under our power, and soon we will rule the whole world"!

Through the use of their telepathic abilities, the cat-women have been subliminally controlling Helen Salinger (Marie Windsor), the mission navigator and only female member of the Earth expedition. Once on the Moon, the cat-women take control of Helen's mind, after which she leads the entire crew (clad in spacesuits and equipped with matches, cigarettes, and a gun) to the cat-women's cavern. Although unable to directly control male minds, the cat-women are able to influence the male crew through Helen, using their own superior intellectual abilities and feminine wiles. As explained to Helen by the cat-woman Beta (Suzanne Alexander), "Show us their weak points. We'll take care of the rest".

Along with telepathy, the cat-women can transport themselves, unseen and instantly, from place-to-place within the cavern. They use this ability to steal the crew's unguarded spacesuits. This forces the crew deeper into the cavern and into violent confrontations with the two moon-spiders and the cat-women. Failing to exterminate the men, the cat-women approach them openly, using Helen. Kip (Victor Jory), who has always been suspicious of the cat-women, confronts Alpha about the missing spacesuits. She promises to return them in the morning. Food and drink are then brought, and private conversations between both groups begin. As these progress ("You're too smart for me, baby. I like 'em stupid"), the gun-wielding Kip sits alone, unable to intervene, while the cat-women successfully manipulate expedition commander Laird (Sonny Tufts) and the other men.

By that evening, the cat-women have learned how to pilot the spaceship. Walt (Douglas Fowley) is stabbed to death by Beta. Lambda (Susan Morrow) has fallen in love with crew member Doug (William Phipps) and tells him of the cat-woman plot, saying, "I love you Doug, and I must kill you". The male crew now realizes that they are in danger. Carrying three spacesuits, Alpha, Beta, and Helen make a break for the spaceship. Lambda teleports ahead to delay them and is bludgeoned to death by Beta. Kip catches up, and fires several shots, killing Alpha and Beta, but leaving Helen uninjured. The surviving expedition members escape the cavern, reach their spaceship, and return to Earth.


Critical reception

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".[2]

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".[3]

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls the film absurd, but notes that it "qualifies as one of the most influential science-fiction films ever made" as it influenced later films "in which astronauts discover decadent, all-female (or almost all-female) civilizations on other planets, including Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), Queen of Outer Space (1958), Nude on the Moon (1961), [and] Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)."[4]


  • An original two-projector, polarized 3D-format showing of Cat-Women of the Moon was featured at the first 3D Film Expo at Hollywood's Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in September 2003,[5] and also at the "3-D at the Castro" film festival, at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco, on October 17, 2006.
  • The 1995 Englewood Entertainment VHS video release was in the red-and-blue anaglyph 3D format.
  • The first "flat" version of Cat-Women of the Moon was released on DVD by Image Entertainment.
  • Since 2007, the L. A. Connection improvisational comedy troupe regularly screens the film in its live "Dub-a-vision". performances.[6]
  • 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 of the Moon was remade as Missile to the Moon (1958), which was also released by Astor Pictures.
  • The film was the inspiration for performer Pat Benatar to change her appearance for one Halloween, which assisted in her acquiring a record deal.
  • Cat-Women of the Moon inspired several songs on Shakespears Sister's second album Hormonally Yours, among them their UK number-one hit "Stay".
  • The opening track of Is It Man or Astroman uses the opening narration from the film prior to the start of the song "Taxidermist Surf".
  • Stock footage from this film was later used in the 1961 film Valley of the Dragons.

See also


  1. Cat-Women of the Moon on IMDb
  2. Variety. Film review, 193. Last accessed: February 7, 2008.
  3. The New York Times, "Cat Women of the Moon at the Rialto", by H.H.T., March 20, 1954
  4. "Cat-Women of the Moon". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. March 30, 2015. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  5. 3-D Film Expo
  6. L.A.Connection web site.

Further reading

  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition (a greatly expanded 3rd printing, now a single, large volume). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009, First Edition 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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