Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964)


Hey, they can’t all be winners, and this time, the 101 Sci-Fi Movies disappointed me a bit. Perhaps if they hadn’t called it Robinson Crusoe On Mars, but Planet X or something instead, because this one falls more solidly into the fiction side rather than the science side.

Using Daniel Defoe’s classic novel of isolation of a man marooned on an island, the tale is updated and set on the red planet.

The Mars Gravity Probe manned by Commander Kit Draper (Paul Mantee) and Batman himself, Adam West, as Colonel McReady, has a near collision with a planetoid, forcing them to change their trajectory, but causes a catastrophic loss of fuel, and both of them have to eject, along with their monkey companion Mona.

Draper comes down first, and amazingly, despite saying he doesn’t have lots of air, and that Mars atmosphere is too thin, seems quite happy to open his helmet’s face plate, or even take his helmet off, only taking occasionally pulls from his oxygen tank… maybe he’s holding his breath a lot… I don’t know. He even turns his air off from time to time, and wanders about the surface, occasionally turning it on again. Weird. Must be some NASA training I’m not familiar with.

There also seem to be the occasional roaming balls of flame that just soar about, which does eventually lead to the cool discovery that some of the porous rocks exude oxygen when burned. That’s a cool idea.

He sets out to find Batman, I mean McCready, only to discover that he didn’t survive the descent, but Mona the monkey did, so he’s not completely alone. And for some reason, Draper decides that Mona doesn’t need to breathe air off the tanks, cause she can breathe the atmosphere. Must be a specially trained NASA monkey.

Eventually they discover a water source, thanks to Mona, but Draper is starting to suffer from his isolation. Just as he seems on the verge of going insane, the area over the next ridge seems to be under attack by the same aliens seen in The War Of The Worlds, at least they’re using the same crafts. It seems they have a slave operation in effect, and one of them has just escaped, finding his way to Draper.

He takes him home, and names him Friday (Victor Lundin).

As they become friends, learning from one another, we learn that Friday is being hunted by his alien masters, tracked by a bracelet that they cannot remove.

An escaped slave becomes his companion, who he calls Friday, however his masters try to hunt him down, so Draper and Friday travel underground, beneath the canals, popping air pills, while trying to remove Friday’s tracking bracelet, racing to the polar cap for water, survival and hopefully escape from their hunters..

It’s a fun enough adventure, it just didn’t hold my attention, course it may have been the fact that I couldn’t swallow my suspension of disbelief.

Oh well.

Like I said, they can’t all be winners.

Considering it’s a fairly low budget film, it does actually look pretty good, and the location shooting in Death Valley, does give it a rather lonesome and otherworldly look… Perhaps something like this could be revisited, updated…

Have you seen it? What did you think?

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