Monday, November 26, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Queen of Outer Space (1958) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The delightfully goofy sci-fi fantasy QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (1958) has been released on a beautiful Blu-ray disc by the Warner Archive.

I've been curious about this film since seeing costar Lisa Davis speak at a Disney Studio screening of ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS (1961) in 2011. She told amusing stories about star Zsa Zsa Gabor jealously appropriating some of her wardrobe. As it turned out, however, Davis got a good deal; I thought her attractive outfit looked familiar, and it turns out it was also worn by Anne Francis in FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956).

Davis and Gabor play some of the inhabitants of the planet Venus, who take four American astronauts (Eric Fleming, Dave Willock, Patrick Waltz, and Paul Birch) prisoner when their spaceship crashes.

Being imprisoned on a planet where they're the only men has its compensations, as the three younger men quickly attracted devoted women (Gabor, Davis, and Barbara Darrow) who pledge to help them escape. But beyond their own lives being in danger, the men are dismayed to learn that the evil masked queen (Laurie Mitchell) of Venus has plans to obliterate Earth. They must figure out how to stop her before they safely escape the planet.

The movie is completely ridiculous, but in the best possible way, starting with some of the opening scenes, when the men blast into orbit strapped to beds -- because they pass out on takeoff. Everything about the movie is silly, including the sets and the performances, but at the same time it's entirely entertaining.

It's sort of a poor man's WORLD WITHOUT END (1956), with a less accomplished cast, but worth seeing in its own right, at least if you like wacky '50s sci-fi. The Blu-ray looks absolutely fantastic.

A noticeable dark-haired woman in the cast is Lynn Cartwright, who was married to actor-writer Leo Gordon for five decades. That's Joi Lansing saying a long goodbye to Willock early in the film.

This Allied Artists film was directed by Edward Bernds and filmed in CinemaScope and Technicolor by William Whitley. It runs 80 minutes.

The Blu-ray contains the trailer and a commentary track by historian Tom Weaver and star Laurie Mitchell, who passed away in September at the age of 90.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, this movie is simply a "fun pleasure." I liked the descriptions you used to describe QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE, as in "delightfully silly" and "completely ridiculous, but in the best possible way." From the producer of THE BOWERY BOYS and the director of THE THREE STOOGES and BLONDIE. So, how can a movie of its kind go wrong, or right? Although there is, for 1958, a violent graphic scene toward the end.

Screenplay and story credit is given to Charles Beaumont and Ben Hecht(yes, really). I would think that they wrote it as a satire, but director Edward Bernds and producer Ben Schwalb decided to play it straight. As a result we have a vividly photographed low art Sci-Fi Camp Classic.

3:06 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Sounds like it must be accompanied by a giant bowl of popcorn and a nice carafe of wine.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's definitely fun, Walter! I was so surprised when I saw Hecht's name in the credits.

That sounds like a perfect recipe for a marvelous viewing experience, Caftan Woman! I think you would enjoy it. :)

Best wishes,

1:34 PM  

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