LAST WOMAN ON
STARRING: Anthony Carbone, Betsy
Jones-Moreland, Robert Towne (credited as Edward Wain)
1960, 71 Minutes, Directed by: Roger Corman
shady businessman, his wife and lawyer go on a scuba-diving excursion during a
vacation in Puerto Rico. When they surface they find that a temporary lack of
oxygen has killed off the rest of humanity – they are probably the only people
left on Earth!
It is never explained what
exactly happened, but whether it was an “act of God” or “act of War”, they must
cope with the fact that they are two heterosexual males with only one female. A
definite recipe for conflict if there ever were one!
The Last Woman on Earth
was directed by cheapo director Roger Corman. Just how cheapo was he? When he
finished a movie titled Creature from the Haunted Sea early, he decided
that since he has a cast, crew and locations on hand why not ask a
screenwriter to quickly throw together a screenplay for him film using that same
cast, crew and locations!
The end result is The Last Woman on Earth, and the
screenwriter is Robert Towne who would become famous for having written the
classic Chinatown thirteen years later.
Towne is on double duty here:
besides writing the screenplay as filming progressed, he also stars as the
lawyer (he is credited as Edward Wain in the film’s credits). See I told you
Corman made them cheap!
The Last Woman on Earth is a
surprisingly literate movie. By saying literate I mean that The Last Woman on
Earth has the feeling of a filmed play. Tennessee Williams for the
post-apocalypse or something. A J.G. Ballard-ish feeling pervades the
proceedings as the trio faces desolate cities strewn with corpses. However, the
movie’s cheapo origins are very much in evidence: the screenplay has a rough
feeling to it, as if it needed another rewrite.
As is to be expected with the
topic matter, The Last Woman on Earth makes for rather morose viewing,
especially since director Corman wisely underplays the screenplay’s
sensationalist aspects (one woman named Evelyn – geddit? – and two men!). The
ending is also rather heavy-handed in its unexpected sermonizing.
Still, if you
were expecting something as trashy and light-weight as Corman’s
Attack of the Giant Leeches or
The Wasp Woman you’d be pleasantly surprised – or disappointed, depending on
your cinematic preferences. I suppose I was a bit of both: while The Last Woman
on Earth has a stolid science fiction premise and some okay directing and acting
behind it, it wasn’t exactly a whole lot of fun to watch . . .