Yachtsman Steve Drexel bets his friends that he can swim ashore on a remote south-seas island with nothing but a toothbrush and be 'living the life of Riley' when they return. With handmade implements the lighthearted, athletic Steve improbably builds a comfortable home with all amenities...and local fauna trained to help him! Meanwhile, a grass-skirted young lady flees an unwelcome wedding on a nearby island. Steve calls her Saturday, but what is he to do with her?Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Composer Alfred Newman recycled the main theme from this film for another South Seas-set film, The Hurricane (1937). To promote that film, the theme was adapted into a pop song, "Moon of Manakoora," which became a major hit for Bing Crosby. See more »
For Douglas Fairbanks's next to last film, he certainly chose an ambitious project, a modern version of the Robinson Crusoe story. At times though it seems like a bit of personal vanity from an aging star.
A good case could be made for Douglas Fairbanks being the movies first action/adventure star. Stunts and athletic ability were always emphasized in Fairbanks films than acting was, though if the occasion called for it, Fairbanks could give a good performance. At the time this film was made Fairbanks was 49 years old, looking fit mind you, but still looking 49.
Like MGM did with Trader Horn, filming it on location in Africa. Most of Mr. Robinson Crusoe was shot in the South Seas, in Fiji, and in Tahiti. There's not much of a cast to Mr. Robinson Crusoe, just William Farnum and Earle Browne who Fairbanks makes a bet on a whim that he couldn't survive on this tropical paradise as did Robinson Crusoe, and of course Maria Alba who plays the native girl Fairbanks takes up with and names Saturday.
There is a man Friday in the story and unfortunately it's part of one of the most racist aspects I've ever seen in a film. The ironic thing is that I don't think Fairbanks who wrote the script appreciated how it looked. Since he decides to imitate the fictional Crusoe, there must be a man Friday in the story. But in Daniel Defoe's novel, Friday is rescued by Crusoe and becomes devoted to him. Here Fairbanks comes upon some head hunters and tries to kidnap him for the purpose of essentially making him a slave. I'm not sure what else you could call it. The whole sequence is done for laughs with Fairbanks using all kinds of wrestling moves on the poor native, doubtless to show off his athletic ability which his fans paid to see. Still for today's audience, I find it shocking.
It's why sad to say, I can't give the film any higher a rating. Fairbanks and the cast are fine and the location cinematography in the South Seas would not be seen for another 20 years until I believe Gary Cooper's Return to Paradise was shot in some of the same area.
Sad to say I think a lot of people will be offended by watching Mr. Robinson Crusoe.
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