The Last Woman on Earth (1960) is one of those films you can tell it was probably just an excuse for the cast and crew to shoot at a sunny location and dick around. In this case, B-movie director/producer Roger Corman brought his crew to Puerto Rico for some sun, surf, and cockfighting, all on the cheap. In fact, to save on the budget, Corman hired on Hollywood screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown, Mission: Impossible, and the filmed-in-Newfoundland Orca) to double as writer and male lead.
The titular woman is played by Betsy Jones-Moreland, who has a delightfully old-timey résumé: she started out doing office work, took an acting class, became a showgirl, got a role in a travelling Broadway company, then ended up in California to star in movies like The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957).
As Evelyn, our omega woman brings a “Betty Draper” messiness to the proceedings. She spends most of the movie calling out for a drink or brushing her hair or wearing outfits that were 1959 scandalous (read: pants).
The first half of the movie, for a post-apocalypse scenario, is pretty cheery. A well-timed scuba dive spares Evelyn, her husband Harold, and his lawyer Martin from the unexplained spontaneous asphyxiation of all life on the planet. They don’t waste any time figuring out the “why” of the apocalypse. They move into a swingin’ pad, light their cigarettes, and fix a round of martinis. As Martin says, “The lush island of Puerto Rico, a lush villa, and a whole life with nothing but to be a lush in.”
However, the movie then goes surprisingly dark. Evelyn has a sexy death wish. Easy-going Martin takes the apocalypse as an opportunity to throw off the shackles of society: no money, no bonds of marriage, no God. He starts casually bringing up how Harold is soon going to try to kill him. From there, it’s all fistfights and brain hemorrhages, and the uncertain fate of the human race.
Moral of the story: Never, ever move in with a couple.
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