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Swiss Family Robinson (1940)

A family setting out for a new life across the sea is shipwrecked on a deserted island. The family members collaborate to create a home for themselves in the jungle environment.


Edward Ludwig
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Thomas Mitchell ... William Robinson
Edna Best ... Elizabeth Robinson
Freddie Bartholomew ... Jack Robinson
Terry Kilburn ... Ernest Robinson
Tim Holt ... Fritz Robinson
Bobbie Quillan Bobbie Quillan ... Francis Robinson (as Baby Bobbie Quillan)
Christian Rub ... Thoren
John Wray ... Ramsey
Herbert Rawlinson ... Captain


A family setting out for a new life across the sea is shipwrecked on a deserted island. The family members collaborate to create a home for themselves in the jungle environment. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

8 February 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Come Robinson Crusoè See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecasts of this film took place in New York City Saturday 29 March 1947 on WNBT (Channel 4), in Chicago Thursday 1 April 1948 on WBKB (Channel 4) and again Saturday 25 December 1948 on WGN (Channel 9), in both Baltimore and Philadelphia Saturday 6 November 1948 on WAAM (Channel 13) and WFIL (Channel 6), in Detroit Saturday 25 December 1948 on WXYZ (Channel 7), in Los Angeles Saturday 22 October 1949 on KNBH (Channel 4), and in Cincinnati Wednesday 9 November 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11). See more »


Version of The Swiss Family Robinson (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Unjustly forgotten, and in need of a remastered DVD
30 April 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

While there is a slight personal preference for the 1960 Disney film, which is much more familiar to me, this 1940 film adaptation of 'Swiss Family Robinson' should be better known and unfortunately can only really be found on a too darkly lit and blurry VHS. It is a film worthy of a DVD, and a remastered one at that.

As an adaptation of the book (which is a very fun, suspenseful and thought-provoking read), this is the more faithful adaptation with more of the book's events intact, better performances from the kids generally and a darker tone. For me though, the later Disney film is better made, has the better played Elizabeth, has a more fitting music score especially in the opening storm sequence (not knocking the music here though) and who cannot resist that treehouse?

Judging it as a standalone and moving on from the VHS issues, the only problems this reviewer found with the film were some draggy pacing in parts and Edna Best's stiff and overacted Elizabeth. Although the VHS does the production values no justice, the settings and costumes are very nicely mounted and it's nicely photographed. The Oscar-nominated special effects in the storm sequences impress and the storm sequences themselves though a touch overlong are spectacularly authentic with a real sense of danger.

'Swiss Family Robinson' is rousingly and lusciously scored, securely directed and intelligently scripted. There is more of the book's story here, and scenes like the salvage trips to the reef-bound brig, the lessons in candle-making and ostrich-taking, the recipe for Elizabeth's fish stew are portrayed in an amusing and exciting manner, same with the spider bite which does have a good deal of suspense. The characters have lost none of their charm and appeal, while the animals are sweet and well trained.

Best aside, the acting is good with a perfectly cast Thomas Mitchell and a delightful Freddie Bartholomew coming out on top. An uncredited Orson Welles brings his distinctive booming voice to the narration, which doesn't make the mistake of being over-used or over-explanatory.

In conclusion, very well done and unfortunately unjustly forgotten. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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