Sunday, June 19, 2011

Apocalypse Corman!
(or 'Three actors, three days, and three bucks')

Last Woman on Earth (1960)
Starring: Betsy Jones-Moreland, Antony Carbone, and Robert Towne
Director: Roger Corman
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

A crooked business man (Carbone), his wife (Jones-Moreland), and his young attorney (Towne) through a fluke survive a mysterious disaster that kills every living thing on the surface of Earth's northern hemisphere, perhaps in the entire world. They attempt to forge a life on the now deserted planet, but how long can two men tolerate each other with just one woman between them? Not very long.

There isn't much more to this film that that paragraph. If I told you that one man kills the other, and the remaining couple lives happily ever after, I wouldn't be spoiling the film, because that's the outcome that's set up early on, and it's an outcome that's never in any doubt.

The cinematography and acting is serviceable for a film which was probably written on the back of cocktail napkins, for which much of the dialogue was probably ad-libbed (the only explanation I can think of for inexplicably repeated lines within the same scene), and which was only made because "Creature from the Haunted Sea" wrapped a few days early and director/producer wanted to squeeze as much work out of the cast and crew he had brought to Puerto Rico as possible.

But for a movie that was probably made in a single-digit number of days, it isn't all bad. The characters are interesting in a community theater one-act play sort of way, and the story moves along at a quick pace. While there isn't a whole lot that happens in this film, you can still watch it and not get bored. Antony Carbone is particularly interesting as the crooked business man, mostly because you know that he's going to kill someone before the film's over. The only question is who.

That's not to say that it's necessarily worth watching unless you're interested in what an "artsy" Corman film might look like, or if you want to check out the humble beginnings of the writer of "China Town". But in the final analysis, this is yet another Roger Corman production where the poster art is more interesting than the film itself.

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