Top 6 Words: Moon

Posted in Top 6 Words at 5:00 am by Sam

“Moon” is the word for this entry in the Top 6 Words series. My favorite movies with the word “moon” in the title follow the jump, but try thinking up some “moon” titles on your own before peeking. Chime in with your own list in the comments section.

A surprising number of MST3K movies are technically eligible: Moon Zero Two, Twelve To the Moon, Hercules Against the Moon Men, and Track of the Moon Beast. Additionally, Crash of the Moons and Project Moonbase almost qualify but not quite.

Since I am not a teenaged girl, New Moon does not appear in the following list:

6. First Men In the Moon (1964)

The first manned space flight lands on the moon — only to discover the British flag and a note saying that the moon has been claimed for Queen Victoria. Thus begins this adaptation of the H. G. Wells story of the same name, which, like a more famous Wells story also does, involves time travel. Science fiction in the 50s and 60s was mostly a low budget affair for kids, but this movie is better than most, thanks to Wells’ inventive ideas.

5. By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)

The Doris Day turn-of-the-century musical On Moonlight Bay (1952) was so successful, a sequel was made that reunited the bulk of the cast. It’s not quite as funny this time around, and the songs aren’t quite as fresh, nor is the interaction between the characters quite so realistic. At the same time, it recaptures the carefree atmosphere of the original quite well. As far as featherweight fifties musicals go, it’s a good one, suffering only by comparison with the first movie.

4. Man On the Moon (1999)

Proving once again that Jim Carrey is an amazing actor when he isn’t trying to be a cartoon, Man On the Moon is a biopic about the eccentric comedian Andy Kaufman. Carrey’s performance transcends imitation and really should have earned him an Oscar nomination. The movie itself is admirable but too morose, dragging too much between moments of inspiration.

3. The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956)

The Teahouse of the August Moon is a fun and funny satire of global politics. Glenn Ford plays a man sent to teach democracy to the people of a small village in Okinawa. But one thing after another gets out of hand, and Ford’s funds don’t get spent quite the way his superiors were hoping. Bizarrely, Marlon Brando plays a Okinawan character, who makes the film.

2. Moon (2009)

A man works in a lunar station for a three-year shift, alone except for a computer, which is programmed to look after him. Moon’s opening moments make it seem like some kind of hybrid between 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Solaris (1972). But we soon realize that this film is going in a direction of weirdness all its own. Slowly, the man figures out that all is not as it appears to be, but to say more would ruin the experience of discovery. This is a must for science fiction fans.

1. Paper Moon (1973)

Peter Bogdanovich made this Depression-era drama about a con artist and a girl who just might be his daughter. He teaches her how to swindle, and now you are probably guessing at the kind of complicated tangle of con games that David Mamet likes to write. It’s not really that kind of movie. The con games, though entertaining on their own, are more about character than story. Interestingly, the two characters are played by real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, the latter turning in a revelatory performance for her first film.

The look of the movie is gorgeous: black and white panoramas of sprawling American landscapes. They are just right for establishing these characters as lost in the world. Sometimes they don’t much like each other, but you know why they stick together. Who else have they got?


  1. ThePhan (128) said,

    May 7, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I’ve seen four, three of which you’ve mentioned (and I would have, too). Paper Moon, Man on the Moon, and Moon are all wonderful. I would not have included the half hour 3-2-1 Penguins children’s cartoon Moon Menace on Planet Tell-A-Lie.

    In my Netflix queue: The Teahouse of the August Moon, added because it was originally a play.

  2. joem18b (231) said,

    May 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I loved “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” as a kid; then the theater played “Moonlight Bay,” so until recently I always assumed that Moonlight Bay was the sequel. Too young to notice any continuity errors, I guess. In the same way, until last night I thought that Lincoln’s son who died in the White House was carried off by a blister on the heel, whereas that was Coolidge’s son. Lincoln’s son had a fever. Just thought you should know.

    I already used Moon, so can’t include it. Also can’t include Paper Moon because Ryan O’Neal gives me the pip.

    Six that I liked best:

    6. Destination Moon (1950) - I could never quite make up my mind about Destination Moon as a kid. On the one hand, The Thing and Invaders From Mars were my favorites, whereas in DM the guys just… go to the moon. But I had a vocal dramatization of the movie on a 78 record and the movie made it all seem real, and after all… they do go to the moon.

    5. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972) - Newman directing Woodward; based on the Pulitzer Zindel play.

    4. From the Earth to the Moon (1958) - Automatic Verne entry. Joseph Cotten, Debra Paget, and George Sanders go to the moon.

    3. Feng yue (Temptress Moon) (1996) - Obligatory Asian movie with “moon” in title. Also automatic due to presence of Li Gong.

    2. The Dark Side of the Moon (2003) - There are many films with this title. This is the one about Nixon filming a fake moon landing in case the real one can’t be televised in real time, and the coverup that follows that filming.

    1. La misma luna (Under the Same Moon) (2007) - I loved it; Arizona banned it.

    Worth a mention:

    Black Moon (1934) - Fay Wray on a tropical island. Unfortunately, not THAT island.

    Sailor Moon - For all the movies based on the series.

    Under the Cherry Moon (1986) - Prince. Not as bad as you might expect. Is that faint praise?

    Black Moon - Louis Malle. Alice in Wonderland, French style.

    The Moon is Blue (1953) - Holden and Niven.

    Black Moon Rising (1986) - For the car driving out of the building 30 stories up, back when that meant something. John Carpenter did the screenplay.

  3. Nyperold (116) said,

    May 9, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I haven’t seen any movies with “moon” in the title, so this is just going to be the title thing.

    M-o-o-n, that spells “moon”. And a bunch of other things, if you’re that one guy in The Stand. But that doesn’t have “moon” in the title, so.

    Hey, there was a film in 1930 called New Moon. No idea if it was a good movie or not…

    Moons in titles, regardless of medium, are usually full or new if the phase is mentioned at all, but in 1959, there was Hugo Haas’s Night of the Quarter Moon.

    Here’s a great title, almost certainly an homage, as I can’t imagine anybody in 2007 naming a film this otherwise: it’s Zeppo: Sinners from Beyond the Moon! Also, did they really name their planet after a Marx brother?

    Another great title is The Adventures of Sir Gee Whiz on the Other Side of the Moon from 1960. Just saying it would take a significant chunk of its 5 minute running time.

    And need I mention one you’ve mentioned during the podcast: Cat Women of the Moon.

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