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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

On Blu-ray - David Hare explores the nether regions of the Bs via QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (Edward Bernds, 1958)

"I HATE that Kveen!" A sentiment oft stated by so many of us over the last century or so, but none so fervently, perhaps as Zsa Zsa Gabor (above with Eric Fleming) playing a Venusian Space Woman in Warner Archive's lovely new Blu-ray of the 1958 Sci-Fi camp classic, Queen of Outer Space. Filmed at everyone's favorite 50s B to Z pic studio Allied Artists. 
Despite having the luxury of Scope and De Luxe Color the movie seems to have been reduced by the indelibly invisible direction of hack, Edward Bernds to one set with two changes of decor and a wardrobe assembled from the studio cleaner's closet. 
The movie itself is a very late entry in the now cooling Cold War sci-fi genre which was a product of post-nuclear panic. Movies from the era were routinely assigned some further "war of the sexes" subtext which more often than not prevailed over the open text. 
In this case, a screenplay suggested, according to the credits, by Ben Hecht, it's the threat of feminism, here exemplified by the all-female race of man-hating Venusian Women who are ruled by a fascist-like masked "queen" whose facial scarring from repeated nuclear exposure has embittered her to men and their evil warfare.
All this pettifogging sex stuff is quickly reduced to dust by the arrival of the ever reliable butchness of all American manhood, here represented by the spectacularly plain Eric Fleming whose space suit was definitely not cut to the gib. 
Mr Butch eventually unmasks the unhappy "Kveen" for a climax in which girls can go back to just having fun, and being pretty, to say nothing of Zsa Zsa collecting another round of jewellery from the next husband. 
Bernds’ career is possibly worth cruising through for perhaps one other film, the previous year's Reform School Girl, also for Allied Artists, with Edd Byrnes ("Kookie" from 77 Sunset Strip) trying and failing to make the move from TV series to the big time. He wasn't as lucky (or as talented) as one or two of his series co-stars, including Efrem Zimbalist Jnr (The Chapman Report for Cukor 1962) and the very handsome Richard Long, who both became familiar faces in the late 50s Warner stable.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting fact about the Allied Artists release, "QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE" was that most of those costumes came from Metro Goldwyn Mayer's "FORBIDDEN PLANET" movie, along with those prop guns that they also used. this was truly a mid 50s low budget production, and at the hands of Edward Bernds, who i think also directed 20th Century Fox's "THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE". i also think that the spaceship they used came from United Artists' "IT-THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE", the 50s equivilent to "ALIEN".

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