Captive Women (1952)

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The vaguely titled CAPTIVE WOMEN is set in a post nuclear holocaust world where three warring tribes, “The Norms”, “The Mutates”, and “The Upriver People” battle each other for supremacy in and around the ruins of New York City and its environs in the year 3000. CAPTIVE WOMEN is the first film about the long term effects of nuclear war and how a nuclear war would drastically alter human society. ROCKET SHIP XM (1950) touched on this slightly, with it’s nuclear war destroyed Mars and it’s remaining Martians reduced to savage cavemen. In 1951 there was FIVE, but all that happened in that film was that a nuclear war reduced the number of people down to five. The plot of a nuclear war resulting in mankind being reduced to warring tribes turns up often in many later post nuclear war films, so often that it has become a cliche. Think of MAD MAX and its countless sequels and imitations. This plot was first introduced here.

However, the premise, new to films at the time, is really the only main point of interest. This story of warring tribes is rather slow going, even at a scant 64 mins. The cast looks want of direction, and most of the performances are over the top. The film is talky. The dialog is stilted and pretentious. Most of the film seems to take place at night, probably to hide the inadequate sets. The producers of this film also made THE MAN FROM PLANET X the year before on the same budget level as this, and cast some of the same people from that film. However, instead of bringing back Edgar G. Ulmer as director, they hired Stuart Gilmore, who seems to show little signs of pictorial imagination. The only interesting scene is a brief shot of the twisted, destroyed ruins of NYC. The only other point of interest is the presence of a very young Ron Randell as Riddon.

Before this film was purchased by RKO, it was titled 1000 YEARS FROM NOW, and was called 3000 A.D. in England. RKO studio head Howard Hughes dreamed up the title CAPTIVE WOMEN, which to me conjurs up images of some tawdry women in prison film and not a science fiction. Perhaps Howard thought his title had more pizzazz or something.