By Bad Seed
Last Woman on Earth (1960) is an American science-fiction film produced and directed by Roger Corman. It tells the story of three survivors of a mysterious apocalypse which appears to have wiped out all human life on earth. The screenplay is by Robert Towne, who also appears in the film billed as "Edward Wain". The music was composed and conducted by Ronald Stein.
Harold Gern, a successful businessman from New York who has been in a lot of legal trouble recently, is spending a holiday in Puerto Rico with his attractive wife Evelyn, whom he married "between trials". They are joined by Martin Joyce, Gern's friend and lawyer, who has come to discuss legal matters. Not in the mood to talk business, Gern invites him along on a boat trip during which all three try out some newly bought scuba diving equipment. When they resurface they realize to their astonishment that they are unable to breathe without using their oxygen tanks. They climb back into their boat and find Manuel, their servant, dead on board—asphyxiated.
Unable to start the engine, they row ashore. With 40 minutes worth of oxygen left they enter the jungle, where, due to the plants giving off oxygen, they can soon breathe normally again (and light a cigarette to calm their nerves).
Gradually it dawns upon the three that they might be the only survivors in the area, maybe in the world. They briefly speculate on what has happened ("an act of God ... or bigger and better bombs") but try to "keep that kind of talk to a minimum" and mainly concern themselves with becoming self-sufficient, for example by moving to a villa near the beach. The two men teach themselves how to fish—as only animals that live in the water have survived—but when they see insects again they realize that they must have survived inside their eggs. Accordingly, they feel that in the long run they will have to move North to a colder climate—to avoid an insect problem and also problems with food preservation and to increase their chances of meeting other survivors.
Very soon the Gerns and Martin Joyce can no longer cope with the triangular situation. Although they still keep up appearances—Evelyn is still wearing jewelry, and Harold Gern, a tie for their seafood dinners—Martin points out to Gern that neither the latter's marriage certificate nor his money mean anything any more. Evelyn feels attracted to the lawyer, who eventually tells her husband what he really thinks of him ("The way you made your money stank. [...] And furthermore, Harold, you stink."). After a short fistfight Martin pretends to be leaving the couple but at the last moment Evelyn hops into the car, and the two lovers drive off. Harold hotwires the other car and follows them. At the harbour another fight between the two men ensues during which Martin is fatally injured. The two survivors are left wondering where they will go or what they will do now.
Directed by Roger Corman
Produced by Roger Corman
Written by Robert Towne
Starring Betsy Jones-Moreland
Robert Towne (billed as Edward Wain)
Music by Ronald Stein
Cinematography Jacques R. Marquette
Editing by Anthony Carras
Release date(s) September 1960
Running time 71 min.
Betsy Jones-Moreland (April 1, 1930 -- May 1, 2006) was an American actress.
She was born as Mary Elizabeth Jones in Brooklyn, New York, and began her career in small roles in the mid-1950s, appearing in several Roger Corman films, including a lead role in Last Woman on Earth (1960). Subsequently she appeared mostly on television through 1975.
She guest-starred in an episode of the television series Ironside starring Raymond Burr, and in the early 1990s appeared in a recurring role as a judge in a series of his Perry Mason television films. In Have Gun - Will Travel, Ms. Jones-Moreland guest-starred as "Topaz", a saloon hostess who befriended Paladin in the episode "Brother"s Keeper" that aired May 6, 1961.