Friday, July 1, 2016
Oddball Film Report: NUDE ON THE MOON (1960)
NUDE ON THE MOON (1960 - color)
"Man discovers a nature camp on the moon!"
I love the 60's.
Here we see something seemingly presented as a joke. After all, most nudie cuties were comedies.
There were rare exceptions, however. I've recently seen a black and white western called REVENGE OF THE VIRGINS, in which cowboys are stalked by topless squaws. What would usually be played for laughs, however, is played perfectly straight (in fact, the film was originally about cowboys being stalked by completely unseen Indians, the topless squaws added for a later release* -while not fantastic or anything, this original version was fairly effective).
[*Either the film had been released in it's original form and this was a re-edit/re-issue, or the topless squaws were added at the last minute and this is the only version of the film to be released.]
So it is with our feature today. Though a comical idea on it's surface, the film plays it straight. Even so, the film falls squarely into the genre known as the Nudie Cutie.
Nudie Cuties as a film genre came about in the very late 50's as an extension of the burlesque cycle. Burlesque films were little more than filmed versions of the night club acts that had taken the place of the somewhat more respectable Vaudeville circuit. Burlesque houses typically featured a mixture of stand-up comics and strippers. Once upon a time, this meant comparatively classy entertainers like Sally Rand and Gypsy Rose Lee. Given the environment, though, the slope was eventually a straight drop and the legitimate performers like Lili St. Cyr found themselves replaced by the more base exhibitionists like Pat Barrington and Candy Barr.
The comics, too, went from the likes of Phil Silvers and Abbott and Costello to Lenny Bruce types. By the 60's, burlesque had become pretty base, and by the end of the decade would be squeezed out completely by the Pussycat theaters.
On screen, nudist camp films had been around almost since the start. Being semi-educational and "art" films, they slipped by the Hayes code until it began to slacken. Even so, they never played mainstream and were relegated to seedy theaters and private screenings. These outlets eventually became known as "raincoat theaters" because patrons tried to hide their faces behind their upturned collars.
The raincoats would screen old nudist films, foreign imports, and B pictures that couldn't find booking in regular theaters (Ed Wood films, for example). Burlesque movies played these theaters, thus preserving many of the old acts (like Tempest Storm, etc) on a cinematic record. Interestingly, one entertainment medium managed to preserve another for future generations. (To be fair, some of the more legitimate burlesquers played real theaters, too.)
It would seem theaters that didn't play mainstream movies didn't need to worry about mainstream guidelines. In the late 50's, the actual nudie films began to appear. (I'm no expert on the actual legislation, but I believe the early films slipped by on the same gray area clauses that allowed imported films to feature nudity. They couldn't play mainstream movie houses, but arthouse theaters could show them, and raincoats adopted them as well.)
Our director, Doris Wishman, is regarded as the true pioneer of the nudie cutie. Beginning in the late 50's, she began shooting nudist movies in Florida. By the dawn of the 60's, these had fully developed into the Nudie Cutie.
[I would be remiss if I did not also credit magazine photographer-turned-independent-movie-maker Russ Meyer. His THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS is considered by some to be the original Nudie Cutie. I haven't seen the film myself, but by all reports it was little more than a cinematic version of a girlie magazine's various photospreads. Meyer did a handful of such films, including EVE AND THE HANDYMAN -which starred his then-wife Eve Meyer, before dabbling in more legitimate movies. His brief foray into real pictures resulted most prominently in FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! before he figured there was more money to be made in dirty movies. His most legendary period was that of the 1970's, in which he made seemingly dozens of sex comedies.]
[Mention should also go to Hershell Gordon Lewis, who produced an early nudie entitled THE ADVENTURES OF LUCKY PIERRE. More in the burlesque vein, this film established Lewis and his production partner David F. Friedman. Together and on their own, these men would make countless drive-in wares of varying quality. Former carny Friedman in particular gravitated toward sex films in the late 60's and 70's.]
Nudie Cuties were typically comedies, and were built around the showcasing of nude females (mostly nude, anyway, as the lower front couldn't be shown until a court decided that nudity in and of itself isn't obscene, in the mid-late 60's). Even so, the films remained pleasantly clean, focused entirely on the flesh and no sort of copulation. Girls in nudie cuties would wander in and out of scenes wearing only shoes and panties (if seen from the front), while men stood around in full suits. Touching of any kind was pretty limited, placing the emphasis purely on the girls themselves. They play like adolescent fantasies in this respect, more interested in seeing what's hidden than in actual sex.
That, of course, would change by decade's end. The nudie cuties gave way to the roughies, shockingly base trash films that abounded in rape and torture. When pornography finally went mainstream in the 1970's, the roughies vanished in favor of straighter sex films. The pornos eventually evolved into plotted, semi-dramatic features of their own accord.
Like any genre, there was experimentation in seeing what audiences wanted to see, hence straight movies with actual budgets -laced with hardcore sex. As budgets began to climb, this practice eventually ended. Porn theaters eventually died out with the coming of home video. Beta and VHS battled to become the permanent home entertainment format, and VHS won the battle because porno tapes were in greater supply.
Back to the nudie cuties, though. They, in the face of the harsher stuff that came after, seem rather innocent. Like the daydreams of a young lad who has just discovered girls, they seem somehow far less dirty than they were advertised to be when new. The jokes are rarely off color, and dialog even more rarely included four letter words. In addition, being the early 60's, the women looked good. Pretty hair and make-up, no tattoos or weird piercings, often local Florida models, they usually were pretty easy on the eyes. ("Usually" being the operative word. Producers of this kind of film couldn't afford to be too choosy when it came to casting....)
The films themselves could be humorous or downright boring. On occasion, they were actually quite hysterical (intentionally so, I mean). Those who made such films also experimented with different formulas.
GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BARES was essentially a straight-forward romantic drama about a night club singer who falls in love with a girl he later discovers to be a nudist. This puts a rift between them, but she manages to talk him into accepting nudism as a harmless and healthy way of life. (Yes, it's a crock, but it makes for a surprisingly decent picture.)
SINDERELLA AND THE GOLDEN BRA is, title aside, a traditional fairytale movie in which a young maiden falls for the kingdom's handsome Prince and has her wish granted to attend the royal ball. Only instead of leaving behind her glass slipper, a gilded harness has the Prince roaming the town in search of the best fit. Shockingly, this isn't presented in any salacious fashion. I'm convinced the film was prepared as a musical kiddie flick, and the producers had a last-minute notion that a nudie film might net them a bigger profit (despite such an idea flying in the face of logic).
HOUSE ON BARE MOUNTAIN was an out-and-out comedy spoofing horror films and detective dramas, as authorities investigate the strange goings-on at Granny Good's finishing school. Insert your own "student body" joke here. If I were to select a favorite of this rather limited genre, this one would be it.
Rather more crass was 1964's KISS ME QUICK, in which a Martian visits a mad scientist in search of the perfect slave. He's shown various naked women as the mad Dr. Breedlove spouts horrible innuendos. This film played for over a decade!
Eventually, of course, the nudies died off and were replaced by sex films. During the heyday, though, assorted producers supplied the raincoats with an endless number of cuties. As noted, Florida's Doris Wishman was the top producer of nudie cuties (although she actually favored nudist camp movies as opposed to the more general comedies involving X-ray glasses and the like). Doris is largely credited with starting the whole thing with her first nudist film, HIDEOUT IN THE SUN. Why she thought of doing a science fiction picture, well, that may've been a sign of the times.
Also beginning in the late 50's, the Space Race had the Nation, and indeed the world, on the edge of it's collective seat.
Since the end of World War 2, both sides had been attempting to break the space barrier. It was the Soviets, despite (and because of) their lack of safety concerns, that made the first real step into space with the launching of Sputnik in 1957. Overnight, the world was gripped in fear, and the USAF stepped up it's activities in contest. For a good while, the reds remained in the lead, putting the first man into orbit in 1962.
On the American side of things, a large number of the launches were disastrous. We spent the remainder of the 50's trying to launch our own satellites with only minimal success. With the Russians keeping ahead of the game, the issue of space flight was moved away from the Air Force and into the hands of NASA, a civilian organization. Miraculously, the Race was finally won in 1969 when NASA put the first man on the moon.
In the popular media, this manifested itself in a variety of ways. On the small screen, for example, NASA was the backdrop of the charming I Dream of Jeannie. Astronauts also played the main characters of It's About Time. On the big screen, James Bond went up against SPECTRE's latest plot to throw the world into chaos via the abduction of US and Soviet rockets right from orbit! (Indeed, DR.NO's plans revolved around sabotaging of America's moon rocket launches. LIGHTNING BOLT also involved sabotage of our space program. IN LIKE FLINT, meanwhile, actually made the US space program an unwitting part of a diabolical plot to conquer the world.)
Space flight had been a part of movie history since the very beginning. A TRIP TO THE MOON is generally regarded as the first space opera. It wasn't until DESTINATION MOON in 1950, however, that a more realistic depiction came to the screen (although you could make a case for the once-lost German film THE GIRL IN THE MOON -ordered destroyed by Hitler because it's wares too closely mirrored actual Nazi technologies). This film, and 1951's THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, was noted as the genesis of the 50's "sci-fi" boom. ROCKETSHIP X-M was quickly cobbled together and shoved into theaters just ahead of DESTINATION MOON.
Rocketry was integral to such films as LOST CONTINENT, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS, CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON (and it's remake -!- MISSILE TO THE MOON), CONQUEST OF SPACE, FLIGHT TO MARS, WORLD WITHOUT END, QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE, FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE, and so on. In the 50's, it was seen as the logical extension of the march of progress that began with the end of World War 2.
With the launch of Sputnik, however, it became far less romantic. Now there was an urgency to it. American writers confidently put forth a hopeful view of the near future, one in which, while the enemy may've gotten in some early blows, America's space program came out on top and expanded Uncle Sam's greatness into the very stars. (A few scripts, though, went more in the direction of unified activity presenting a future in which the UN was in charge of space flight. You see this trope turn up in films as varied as 12 TO THE MOON and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.)
Ultimately, if ever so shortly, America did rule outer space. Once the race had been won, however, interest in expansion beyond the moon dwindled. What few other planets have been examined more or less close up have been scrutinized by unmanned probes and cameras. Hardly the grand, limitless horizon presented on the screen.
NUDE ON THE MOON was of a genre of lost-civilization-of-beautiful-women-in-space movies, although this one breaks tradition slightly in presenting a world populated by both sexes. This concept is classic pulp, and has been the basis of a number of films of varying quality.
CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON may've been the first true science fiction picture about the concept, although the theme goes way back in the pulps and comics. The film was re-made after Sputnik's launch as MISSILE TO THE MOON.
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS presented a comical take on the subject. QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE was probably the most colorful. Although not strictly female-only societies, WORLD WITHOUT END and films like it also continued the traditions. WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET's title was somewhat misleading, being more a survival space opera in which only one female member of the crew (Irene Tsu, if I remember correctly) gets lost in a prehistoric jungle and the others (including Wendell Corey and John Agar) try to find her. The space women are peripheral to VOYAGE TO THE PREHISTORIC PLANET's main action in VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN. The genre would eventually be parodied in the late 80's via the sketch comedy AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON.
(On a personal note, I and director Joshua Kennedy paid tribute to the genre in VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF TEENAGE CAVEWOMEN....)
NUDE ON THE MOON actually holds to the genre as established. Although it forgoes such colorful elements as giant spiders, it does have the typical discovery of gold deposits and romantic interest from an alien Queen. True to space operas in general, we get the anticipated meteor shower, last-minute rush due to dwindling air supply, and unexplained earth-like surroundings. Weirdly, the film declines from letting our heroes discover breathable air on the moon, despite their wandering around a flowered garden populated by mostly naked human beings.
We open on a quaint image of earth as seen from a lunar surface. (Nudie films were often shot in color, so as to assure future re-issues in the color-happy 60's. This one is particularly gorgeous, rescued from obscurity by Something Weird Video.) This backdrop looks like something from a Disney cartoon, and the image remains throughout the entirety of the film's old-fashioned ballad "Moon Doll."
It's said that The Tonight Show's Doc Severinsen had a hand in this, though he was uncredited if so. The music is credited to a Daniel Hart. The same Dan Hart who did the music for Gigantor? Interestingly, that series was one of hundreds of projects for which Titra Corp. did the sound, including THIS picture!
The entire song plays before the title comes up. We then get a series of still shots showing typical Moon life as our credits play out. Of note is that the lunar settings were filmed at the Coral Castle. This oddball tourist attraction was made to order for loopy B movies, and had earlier been featured as the temple of the crocodile god in WILD WOMEN OF WONGO, a particularly weird cavegirl movie.
Provided I have my facts straight, the Coral Castle was built by a man named Edward Leid Scalian, who arrived in the States in 1910. When his bride-to-be Agnes Scutts left Scalian at the alter, he moved to Florida and began construction of a castle made entirely of coral he excavated from the shores. Exactly how he extracted, hauled, carved, and erected these massive blocks of stone remains a mystery, as he worked only at night with homemade tools adapted from spare car motor parts. Supposedly, the castle was built in tribute to Agnes and the children they didn't have.
What Scalian built was a massive open-topped compound filled with carved beds, tables, tubs, and chairs surrounded by a tall wall of coral. The entire structure is decorated with astrological symbols like moons and stars. Built into the grounds are such features as a dungeon, a court room with a throne and other chairs around a large table, various mechanical devices that control moving hatches and doors, and a massive block that opens out of the main wall by turning about like the bookcase opening to a secret passage in an old haunted house programmer.
When Scalian decided that his monument was attracting too much attention in it's original location, he moved the entire thing block by block to Homestead, Florida, where it sits today. The place is a marvel to behold. Space symbols decorate what looks like a prehistoric castle of rock and coral surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. It's a shocker that it hasn't appeared in more movies than it has! Certainly the tourist attraction is a perfect match for an early 60's space opera about lunar nudists...
Although the credits claim a "Anthony Brooks" as the director, it's really Doris Wishman behind it all. Anthony Brooks was one of the many aliases used alternately by Doris and her photographer Raymond Pheelan (others including Louis Silverman, Melvin Stanley, and Doris Wisher). Miss Wishman did have a legitimate relation to the movies in her cousin, producer Max J. Rosenburg!
The film itself is fairly simple. Jeff and his professor friend are anxious to explore the moon. When Jeff inherits three million dollars, they decide to go ahead and build their own rocket instead of waiting for the imminent government funding that would pay for the same thing! On the one hand, I must admire Jeff for wanting to spend his own money on a private flight rather than spend taxpayer dollars. On the other hand, this is just so silly.
Firstly, there's the fact that private space flight wasn't allowed until only recently (not that a lot of progress has been made on that front, with all due respect). More obviously, Jeff only has three million dollars -even if that is an after-tax figure.
Needless to say, 3 mil was a LOT of money in 1960. They could've filmed more than 300 movies like this and have had a substantial amount left over. Even so, the idea of pulling off a moon shot for that number of dollars must've struck the original audience as ridiculous. For preparations for space flight, we're talking billions in research and development alone. And then there's the construction of the rocket itself. Even without government overhead and countless employees, we're still looking at billions. But our heroes intend to build a program from scratch for 3 million? I know Jeff is a genius rocket scientist and all, but it strains credibility even for a film called NUDE ON THE MOON!
What's more, they intend to lift off in only 6 months!
Anyway, the boys have an assistant named Cathy. Cathy is a not-overly attractive brunette who has a thing for clueless Jeff. She has a habit of re-typing the same letters over and over again, or finds some other excuse to work late whenever Jeff does, and she enjoys staring longingly at her 8X10 glossy of Jeff. The Professor finds this amusing, but Cathy is a little flustered. Jeff is so absorbed in his work that he isn't aware of Cathy's affections OR those of his childhood friend Mary Foster. When the topic is brought up, Jeff flatly makes it clear that he isn't interested in romance when there's so much science to do.
By the way, it isn't obvious during the first reel or two, but it becomes increasingly clear that Doris shot this picture MOS* and looped in the dialog later. Certainly a cheaper way to do it than have a sound crew crammed into what appear to be real lab buildings (which likely belonged to the local garage or high school).
[*Screen legend has it this term came from German directors transplanted to early Hollywood, who would say they were filming "mit-out sound" but in truth the anagram means Minus Optical Sound. Nudies were easy to shoot MOS since they typically contained very little dialog. A narrator would usually do the job, provided one was even needed, in the early days. Come to think of it, this one is awful talky for a nudie cutie!]
The Professor handles the fuel problems while Jeff addresses the electronics. The rocket is ready to go in ridiculously short order. The real concern, though, is the moon itself. Still playing like a regular matinee kiddie space opera, the men discuss what is known about the moon and how their rocket will cope with such factors as temperature and stability of the lunar surface. Professionals call this Filler Material, by the way.
Eventually, the big day of departure arrives. We begin this scene well away from the field, allowing Jeff and the Professor to go over things one more time before they drive out to the launch site. We watch more or less their entire ride as they take a last look at Miami. They even stop to put in a plug for Wishman's HIDEOUT IN THE SUN, seen playing at a theater they pass. (It's during this sequence that Doris dispenses with any pretense of making the dialog look looped, and switches to a trademark of hers which involves cutting back and forth as people talk, always focusing on the person doing the listening.) Eventually, they reach the field and look proudly upon the missile they have constructed.
Since Doris lacked a master shot of the rocket on the pad, we don't get to see the reportedly powerful sight. Instead, the men point off screen and then walk over to a scaffold. They climb up, and we cut inside an airplane that will be doubling as the rocket cockpit/hatchway. Anyone even remotely familiar with 20th Century aircraft will identify this machine as the marvelous C-47. I suppose if you were a kid making a home movie, you could get by with this. It looks pretty goofy in a more or less real movie, though.
We also get a particularly odd bit in that the men seated side by side in the cockpit use their radio headsets to converse with each other as well as the field. I think this was a misjudged attempt at adding some realism, figuring spoken word wouldn't travel in a vacuum once the ship was in space. This shows some thought, but not much of it. A pressurized cabin wouldn't require any such arrangement -especially when the rocket is still on the pad!
More likely this set-up was to allow for more convincing dubbing-in of dialog. The film started out surprisingly well mounted for a Wishman picture, looking for all the world like an actual movie. But as it unspools, the film gets less and less polished. By the last reel, it just looks like everybody involved stopped caring.
At any rate, the boys get clearance from the (unseen) tower for lift-off. The lush Florida surroundings turn into a sparse desert as we finally glimpse the stock footage rocket on the pad. I can't recognize where this stock shot comes from -or any of the later ones, for that matter . They seem to've either been lifted from an educational short, or a foreign import. In fact, it may've been the acquisition of this footage that prompted Doris to make a moon picture in the first place. Said footage is pretty chintzy, though. Not to mention that it never really matches itself to the film proper, or even to fellow stock shots!
A very fast countdown is read before the rocket takes off. Fortunately, it makes it into orbit quickly, because the men have to make the flight in a seated position due to the confines of a C-47 cockpit. The G-forces are only momentary and soon the men are on their way. We do see the obligatory meteor storm footage, but this never interacts with our astronauts. In fact, they never mention it!
In what must be an attempt to fuse the cratered lunar surface with the sunny Coral Castle footage, the shots of the approaching moon have been tinted green. Less explainable is that the Professor and Jeff black out during their approach and the rocket lands itself perfectly. This scene clearly shows the nose of a rocket coming rest on the traditional barren lunar surface, though the footage is tinted green. When they step out, the men find themselves walking across fresh green grass.
Why do the men pass out and the rocket land on automatic? You got me, unless it was a way for the movie to cover itself. A couple of times, there is expressed doubt as to whether the men have actually landed on the moon. We're never really presented with an alternate explanation of where they are, though, so it's pretty easy to overlook this. One thing is for sure, Jeff really IS a genius rocket designer!
When we see the hatch swing open, we are greeted with a sight that drains any credibility the movie had before now: the men in their space suits. I really can't describe this properly. The uniforms are made from vividly-colored long johns (Jeff wears green, the Professor red) over which have been placed light leather tunics. The helmets appear to be plastic toy Air Force helmets. A tiny air tank, star-decorated boots, and gloves complete the look. These things are simply astounding. Their necks and wrists are completely exposed! Good thing they landed in Florida!
The men go exploring, figuring they must've landed in a crater and that's why this sunny paradise has never been spotted through telescopes. (I could make fun, but honestly that's within the bounds of movie logic. Untouched is the fact that the crater somehow holds in a pressurized atmosphere.) Despite this Earth-like wonderworld, packed to capacity with lush vegetation, the men never consider that there might be breathable air. Since this cuts against convention, it's pretty weird. I figure this was to allow for easier dubbing, however, as it keeps the actors' faces obscured. (More insultingly, they'll later flip up their protective visors to expose their faces, their oxygen feeds an inch or so from their lips and somehow able to still provide air in what the men act to be a vacuum. How does this set up possibly work?)
On the bank of a serene pond, the men find chunks of gold scattered around. There's some discussion about taking the gold back to fund future flights, despite the added weight. One reason they decide against it is because the trip back through the radiation belt may change the composition of the element and reduce the gold to worthless dust.... Eh, come again? That's a new one on me. Those rock samples brought back by the Apollo missions, did they begin their journey as more precious substances?
Before long, the men stumble across the walls of the Coral Castle, upon which they find a leaning ladder. They note the ladder has "the same construction as on Earth." That may sound like a silly line, but it's actually quite profound. The effect is somewhat lessened by the fact that the ladder was obviously borrowed from a janitor's closet and shows not the slightest hint of being anything else. As you might expect, they climb the ladder and peek over the rock wall. (meaning the natives have modern ladders, but not buildings...)
On the other side is seen the promised nature camp, which might be a bit more impressive were we not already shown still shots of moon maidens frolicking around the Coral Castle back during the credits. Basically, the lunar inhabitants are a couple dozen women (and a smaller number of men) dressed only in tiny rubber bottoms of varying colors. Atop their heads are antennae courtesy for those plastic bands that kids buy at holloween. Perhaps the oddest aspect of this is that many of the girls have apparently only recently decided to go nude, if their tan lines are any indication.
Jeff and the Professor spend a good while watching this, allowing for another play of the "Moon Doll" song -which will be heard a few more times before the end. In particular, this theme is used to note Jeff's fascination with -and later romantic interest in- the Queen who rules over the mostly-nude colonists. I think I'll call them Lunudes. Moonudes? At any rate, the Queen sits in a throne that overlooks the compound. For no reason at all, she stands up in one scene and spreads her cape out like big butterfly wings. This is the only time we'll see the Queen sporting this flashy accessory.
The Queen and Cathy are played by the same woman, though the astronauts never seem to notice the resemblance while in her company.
The men eye the Lunudes unaware that they've been spotted by the royal guards. Two moon-men grab the Professor and drag him off as Jeff is distracted by the sight of the Queen. You'd think the Professor would remember that he has a radio in his helmet that keeps him in contact with Jeff, but he fails to say anything as he's dragged off. One Lunude the film favors is a pretty blonde, and she strikes the Professor with a wand that makes him easier to manage. Putting him into a stupor, the Lunudes drag him off and place him a holding tank.
Jeff is subjected to similar treatment and we see that the blonde's job is apparently to stand in place and wait for the guard to bring intruders over so she can put the whammy on them. Since this job is obviously of limited value -seeing as there's no indication that other Lunudes exist outside the crater- the blonde also acts as guard and personally escorts the men into the pit before closing it with a hand crank. (When that job is completed, she no longer seems to have an actual function other than to look pretty -although she is seen dancing before an audience at one point.)
The Queen holds a council and decides (via voice-over, as telepathic communication is another trick that makes dubbing easier) that the Earthmen are not a threat. She commands them released, against the objection of her subjects. This distrust of the visitors from the stars is pretty short-lived, as the men are rather quickly reduced to only the mildest of curiosities. (Since this plot thread of opposition to a queen regarding the presence of strangers has been well-traveled in other movies, they -maybe intentionally- drop the potential subplot altogether.)
Jeff and the Professor are set free, and so continue with their mission to catalog the various minerals and plants, and make notes on the conditions of the lunar surface. You'd think that might be trumped, or at least joined by, the need to set up friendly relations with a new culture, but we already know how single-minded Jeff can be.
Here the movie bogs down quite a bit, which is ironic as it's the very segment that brought the movie into existence to begin with. Basically, Jeff and the Professor will wander around and occasionally comment on the sight of various moon-nudes lounging about their domain. Let me tell you, it looks like Lunudes live an incredibly boring existence! I know it's supposed to be idyllic and serene and all that, but the Lunudes do little more than lay in the sun, occasionally think-chat, and take a mist bath. I can see doing it for a weekend, but what a dull life! Maybe Jeff and the Professor just happen to've landed on Sunday....
No need to linger on this, though there are a few cute bits. In one scene, some girls are amused by the Professor's mustache and one girl curls a leaf in her lip in imitation of him. Moonmen must be committed to the clean shave, because there's really no reason that this should be so strange. One moonman is actually seen working, sharpening a blade while draped in a chain. Not sure what he's up to. Maybe the Lunudes have a thriving commercial industry underground. Come to think of it, somebody has to make those rubber shorts everyone wears....
Jeff keeps having his attention pulled back to the Queen and he's continuingly wandering over to chat with her. The Professor keeps pulling Jeff away to continue their work in the limited time they have. Again, wouldn't establishing contact with the natives be a priority? At one point, Jeff offers the Queen a candy bar. She doesn't care for it, but loves the taste of the wrapper!
Ultimately, Jeff is so in love that he decides to stay behind despite the lack of breathable air (although I maintain that there probably is oxygen given all the plants and the Lunudes obviously have lungs -and if they don't breath oxygen as we do, then the movie needs to say so).
While the Professor argues with Jeff, the Queen think-speaks that she too loves Jeff. She will not allow him to risk his life, however, and hits him with a whammy wand. This allows the Professor to drag Jeff back to the ship. The Lunudes wave off the astronauts as the stock footage rocket takes off.
In space, Jeff is unhappy to learn the Professor has returned him to the ship. Still, there's the mission and everything. Unfortunately, the Professor left his camera behind! His samples, too! With no proof, they can only pray the government believes them and helps fund a second expedition.
Back on Earth, we learn that the military has examined the rocket thoroughly and found no evidence that the thing ever made it into space. Again I say, this is just silly. Still, Jeff is crushed to learn that he'll never again see his beloved Moon Doll. Not to worry, though, because we have a spare. When Cathy comes in to welcome Jeff back, he finally notices that Cathy and the Queen have the same face.
Hopefully, Cathy won't mind that she's finally landed Jeff because she makes him think of another woman....
And with our happy couple in happy embrace, we end our happy story.
Much of the action is off camera. The tower crew, the construction of the rocket, the military investigation, even Mary Foster's very existence, are all only spoken of. This limits the main cast to three people and and a tiny handful of locations, until the main section of the film. Until that section is reached, and if you didn't know the title, you might think it a typical -if cheap- kiddie space opera.
There are some interesting ideas here. The discovery of a tropical paradise on the moon, populated mostly by comely females, has some mileage -else it wouldn't be used in so many movies! Even the nudity angle seems to work, in terms of giving the film a unique look in the genre. After a while, you barely notice it. Had they gone more in the direction of showing the two civilizations meeting in a diplomatic sense, it could've been a more interesting picture. A better script and pacing would've made a world of difference, though the film would still've had a limited audience.
Cathy and the Queen were played by "Marietta" and this was her only picture, though she is top-billed. She's serviceable, under the circumstances, but her looks don't really suggest a star. Oddly, she plays Cathy with much less ease than she plays the Queen. As the Queen, she manages a stately command as well as a childish innocence. As Cathy, she's pretty stiff. Were I to guess, I'd say she was probably a stripper at some Miami club.
Better was William Mayer as Jeff. He had the movie star looks (looking something like a cross between George Peppard and Richard Jaeckel) and charisma, and should've gone farther. His only dramatic picture was ETERNAL SUMMER. The rest of his filmography was composed of nudie/nudist films. They had the typical titles, stuff like GENTLEMEN PREFER NATURE GIRLS, BEHIND THE NUDIST CURTAIN, and THE PRINCE AND THE NATURE GIRL.
Lester Brown played the Professor, and he looks like the sort of character actor you might've seen in other flicks or on television. This, however, was his only film.
For a nudie, the film is rather competently constructed. The photography is beautiful, as is the scenery (the Florida locations, I mean). Presumably, the bulk of the Lunudes here were actual nudists. Many of them look members of the local PTA. Even a couple of little boys are brought along and given some footage! Most bizarrely, the credits include a (supposedly military) Captain among the actors!
In the end, a mild curiosity that isn't anything to write home about. Still, it makes a unique variation on a popular film genre.
Space/science fiction and nude females didn't part company with NUDE ON THE MOON. One segment of a burlesque/nudie (that shows various strip acts across history) takes place on the moon -in fact this very segment is used as an extra feature on the SWV disk. Rather more pornographic was 1967's SPACE-THING, and the later (shockingly entertaining) parody FLESH GORDON. THE LOVE FACTOR (aka ZETA ONE) was a spy-spoof adapted from a popular literary serial in England, featuring sexy invaders from beyond. Presumably, that was also the gimmick of the video era title BEACH BABES FROM BEYOND. INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS was played a bit straighter, an adult-themed (by which I mean it was for grown-ups, not that it was a dirty movie) story of average housewives being transformed into hot-to-trot insect-women who "love their victims to death." Despite a fun-sounding title, CINDERELLA 2000 was a painful Al Adamson musical about sex in the distant future. Far better was LIFEFORCE, in which a naked Mathilda May spearheads an invasion by intergalactic vampires (this one is worth checking out, basically an 80's-style Quatermass epic). SPECIES had the world's first human-Martian hybrid in the form of a sexy blonde with an urge to mate. No doubt there are dozens of unknown direct-to-video skinflicks that also play this theme (turn of the century porno queen Misty Mundae made the scene in PLAYMATE OF THE APES, for example). Still, if ever there was another movie specifically about space-nudists, I can't think of it. Of the films listed in the above paragraph, NUDE ON THE MOON is certainly the cleanest one! One wonders if a sleaze producer has ever considered a remake. It's one of the few scenarios that wouldn't be hurt by being played as intentional camp. Nudist camp, of course.