Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1964. Aubrey Schenck Productions. Screenplay by Ib Melchior, John C. Higgins, based on the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Cinematography by Winton C. Hoch. Produced by Aubrey Schenck. Music by Van Cleave. Production Design by Arthur Lonergan, Albert Nozaki, Hal Pereira. Film Editing by Terry O. Morse.
A spaceship orbiting Mars has to eject its two human pilots and one monkey passenger in order to avoid a head-on collision with a meteor. Paul Mantee finds himself stranded alone on an unfriendly planet whose atmosphere is dangerous and whose water supply is very scanty. His problems with loneliness, however, are soon solved when he realizes that he is sharing the planet with others. This marvelous, kitschy piece of science-fiction is perfectly in line with similar films of the period, playing fast and loose with scientific fact and situating the hero in an environment that looks more like the Brady Bunch’s backyard than a desolate planet. It has a healthy sense of adventure to it, though, and there are moments when the sight of the lone figure walking alone the rocky mountains of Mars (which are actually location shoots in Death Valley with process photography replacing the Earth’s sky with Mars’s red atmosphere) evokes a slight chill in the back of your contemptuously cynical spine. The dream sequence is particularly haunting, while the whole thing is a pleasure to watch thanks to the gorgeous Technicolour photography by Winton C. Hoch.
The Criterion Collection: #404