Robinson Crusoe on Mars

"Very Good"

Robinson Crusoe on Mars Review


Back in 1964, Robinson Crusoe on Mars was certainly a landmark of special effects, combining animation with elaborate sets and costumes. Hand-animated spaceships of course don't fly in today's cineplex, but as a piece of nostalgia, Robinson Crusoe on Mars fits the bill perfectly.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a latter-day retelling of the famous Daniel Dafoe novel, dropping Commander Kit Draper (Paul Mantee) on Martian soil with only a monkey as a companion. Turns out this Mars isn't terribly inhospitable. He only needs to take a breath of fresh air every hour or so and can get by without a helmet most of the time. Still, isolated from Earth, his tasks comprise the usual survival tactics in short order. He pulverizes rocks to make oxygen, then follows his monkey to a pond for water and food: the seaweed has Martian sausage growing inside it. Overall, not a bad little life he's got for himself.

That is, until the Martian spaceships show up, Wellsian craft that blast the heck out of everything. Whenever Draper has things under control, the Martians show up and bust everything. Eventually we encounter Friday (Victor Lundin), an escaped slave from yet another planet who's on the run from the Martians, too.

The film's excitement and novelty overcome its now-kitschy technical limitations in the first half, but by the time the film becomes a run from the bad guys, the movie deflates into B-movie cliche. The same shot of Martian ships appearing is used over and over again, and the movie feels stuck on replay until the inevitable rescue.

Still, Crusoe manages to rise above it all with some great acting (far better than normally seen in genre pics of the era), good dialogue, and an obvious talent at working with a small budget to create some unique, memorable renditions of life on another planet. The real Mars may be nothing like it appears in this movie, but it sure does make you want to visit anyway.

Criterion's new DVD includes a commentary track from the cast and crew, a making-of featurette, and a music video for Lundin's own song inspired by the film... a song I can not get out of my head!



Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Monday 1st June 1964

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Aubrey Schenck Productions, Paramount Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Aubrey Schenck

Starring: Paul Mantee as Com. Christopher " Kit " Draper, as Col. Dan McReady, The Woolley Monkey as The Monkey, Victoria Lundin as Friday

Also starring: ,

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