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Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Entry updated 10 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1964). Schenck-Zabel/Paramount. Directed by Byron Haskin. Written by Ib Melchior, John C Higgins, remotely based on Robinson Crusoe (1719) by Daniel Defoe. Cast includes Vic Lundin and Paul Mantee. 109 minutes. Colour.

Haskin directed several sf films in the 1950s, including War of the Worlds (1953), and returned to the genre in 1964 with this interesting, futuristic version of Defoe's classic novel. After a spaceship crashlands on Mars, one of the two pilots (the other is killed) struggles to survive and to remain sane in the alien, barren landscape – here well played by California's Death Valley – his only companion his pet monkey. This section of the film is compelling; but, with the arrival of Alien spaceships, the Robinsonade in a hostile environment gives way to Space-Opera melodrama: the Earthman rescues one of the aliens' slaves, who becomes his Man Friday, and a conventional pursuit-and-escape story follows. The story resembles – but to no great degree – that of Rex Gordon's No Man Friday (1956; vt First on Mars 1957). [JB/PN]


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