Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.
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Escape to an island full of castaway comedy as Disney favorite Dick Van Dyke and Nancy Kwan star in this hilarious South Pacific adventure. Lt. Robin Crusoe (Van Dyke) is an all-thumbs Navy pilot who ditches his plane after engine trouble. He survives a riotous raft ride only to find himself marooned on a lush tropical island with a poker-playing chimp, a gadget-rich abandoned sub, and Wednesday (Kwan) -- a wild but beautiful native girl in exile for disobeying her overprotective father. You won't stop laughing as all the natives get restless in this paradise of clowning and chaos -- on DVD for the first time!|This is the only movie for which Walt Disney received a story credit (as Retlaw Yensid -- Walter Disney spelled backward).
Shortly after Dick Van Dyke played Bert in Mary Poppins, he starred as Lt. Robin Crusoe in this lesser known 1966 comedy, splendidly showcasing his myriad comedic talents in a South seas setting. Families who remember Van Dykes riotous romp as Navy-pilot-turned-island-native will appreciate this digital release of the original film. The laughs begin from the moment Crusoe is marooned at sea on a military-issue rubber raft and fights off a shark while reading a step-by-step survival guide. By the time he washes ashore on the island, discovers the wonders of bamboo, and stumbles upon a poker-playing astro-Chimp, audiences are given over to the gigglefest. Nancy Kwan, as Wednesday, adds to the merriment as the islands other castaway who plays a humorous game of charades with Crusoe before revealing her status as an exile, having escaped her overprotective father. With the battle cry, "Women have rights too," Crusoe and Wednesday prepare for the inevitable patriarchal showdown, a madcap misadventure. While special features are sorely lacking--such as an interview with Van Dyke--this decent family flick remains a rich Disney relic. (Ages 4 and older) --Lynn Gibson
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Top Customer Reviews
it's a fitting as well as charming showcase for both Disney's amicable brand of good-natured fun and Van Dyke's agile "everyman" slapstick. it admittedly borrows on the basics from it's literary blueprint, but that's all it needs. Robinson Crusoe, like Moby Dick or Romeo & Juliet, is one of those books that somehow conjures a feeling for us even if we haven't read 'em.
the protagonist was named Robinson by a father who yearned but never managed to go to sea. ("why couldn't Dad've named me Dwight or Lyndon"?) a navy pilot forced to evacuate his overheated jet, he manages to find a vacant but habitable island and undertakes the rigors of self-sufficiency. (one wonders if the popularity of Gilligan's Island had something to do with the film's existence. maybe "Uncle Walt" should've done a movie starring Bob Denver as a tv comedy writer to even things out.) along the way he befriends a similarly lost "astro-chimp" and Nancy Kwan, who becomes his "girl Wednesday." ultimately he must confront her dictatorial father, the Chief, and bring Woman's Lib to the tribe.
it's a semi-bummer that such Van Dyke Show cronies as Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam couldn't make it, but we do at least get a delightful cameo by (the voice of) Richard Deacon. his early narration for Crusoe's survival-at-sea manual gleefully reflects the button-down pomposity Deacon had flaunted as Alan Brady's brother-in-law/producer. Van Dyke's muffling of the obsequious instructor's narrative by burying the manual in damp sand is a rebut worthy of Buddy Sorrell.
only one thing about it particularly bugs me, in fact downright pisses me off: the sight the famously left-handed Van Dyke writing with the other hand. the same thing frequently happens on his sitcom, even though his left-handedness was a punchline more than once. for decades my fellow lefties were forced to use the wrong hand on film, and i realize there are activities where it's practical to resisted one's southpawness, such as fencing. but the fact is, 99.99% of it was sheer bigotry!! when it comes to as mundane an activity as writing, how is this any different from telling Denzel Washington that he can't have a part unless he bleaches his skin?
another oddity is the credit "story by Retlaw Yensid." the joke is that it's Uncle Walt's name backwards, only it's not quite. technically, the mirror image of "Walter Disney" would be "Yensid Retlaw." if there's one thing more perplexing than why they didn't go all the way, it would be why i've seen others attempting the same gag making the same mistake. oh, well.
like any movie fanatic, i've been asked once or twice if i had any "guilty pleasures." to be honest, i'm not sure i grasp the concept. i mean, you just sort of turn out to be whatever it is you are, y'know? you can't really choose your taste in movies anymore than you can your singing voice or how tall you are. so if a friend doesn't care for one of your favorites, well, there's certainly letdown potential, but it's not really anybody's fault. (unless you wanna blame God or Nature.) so as i interpret it, what you're being asked to feel guilty about is pretty much being who you are.
and anyway, i tend to favor the other extreme. faced with the denigration of something i enjoyed (and sometimes the praise of something i couldn't stand), i'm more the righteous indignation type. (again, not really quite fair in light of the nobody's-fault syndrome, but i haven't quite convinced my gut yet.)
still, i have gotten some idea what whoever's in charge wants to make us feel guilty about enjoying. from what i've gleaned i get the feeling that some would say Lt. Robin Crusoe U.S.N. should be listed as one of mine (if i had any), but i refute the very idea. maybe it's not particularly profound or revolutionary, but it's charming and fun, so who the hell cares? i repeat, it's a sterling (however prosaic) example of both Walt Disney and Dick Van Dyke doing what they did best.
This movie is clean. Even the "violence" has no blood. We let our baby watch the DVD! The language is clean. There's no "real" offensive violence, sex in any form, attacks on religion, foul language, or any of the other junk pushed by modern Hollywood. There's fighting, yes, but think Three Stooges, not Terminator.
SPOILER ALERT: Now for what happens. Stop here if you want it to be a complete surprise.
The movie, like the book, starts out in medias res, or at least something very close to that. Dick van Dyke is writing his fiancée from sick bay on a Navy ship. Going back chronologically, van Dyke, an engaged Navy pilot, finds himself marooned after his jet catches fire, stuck on an uninhabited South Pacific Island. His companions include an astrochimp named Floyd, who, although quite intelligent, nearly killed the marooned pilot at their first meeting. They're soon joined by a strong-willed young lady from a different island, sent there by her polygamous match-making throw-them-to-the-sharks chief-father to die for the crime of refusing a marriage he arranged for her. Survival and trick-them "weaponry" are aided by the finding of a grounded Japanese submarine left over from WWII with lots of workable gear--"a Japanese supermarket", exclaims Crusoe. A bevy of young island ladies soon joins them, sisters and cousins of the girl sent to die. Battle plans are drawn to take on the inevitable clash when the chief, the girl's father, comes with his contingent to see if she's still alive.
There are enough bloopers to fill a page. Islanders have to speak English for an audience too young to read subtitles. And there are blond jokes here as these dark-haired "native" girls learn what explosives and the like can do. The message of the movie is that women have rights, and can choose their mates. Ironically, the movie makes these young ladies out to be a bunch of, dare we say, dumb girls? These are real Pacific islanders used in the filming, no doubt, not the dark-haired whites used for Indians in modern westerns, and these Islanders are clothed well enough for an audience of children in the 1960s.
The movie is all comedy. The ending is a surprise, but before that, we see the inevitable battle scene, a lovers triangle (again, nothing any kid couldn't view) as the young island lady starts falling in love with this engaged man, and enough Dick van Dyke comedy to keep the movie, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, from getting boring, even after several viewings. And of course there's the fact that the Navy is more interested in the chimp than the pilot, a fact brought out at the beginning of the movie and even more clearly at the beginning of the book and at the end of the movie.
I saw this movie in 1966 when it was first released. Decades have passed since then and yet I still recall much of it with great fondness. Love the NASA astrochimp Floyd (Dinky), the real star of this movie.
It's not high art or a classic but it is a fun film packed with slapstick, fireworks, and yes a chimp wearing pants.
This film is a Disney classic which still holds up well today. Funny, clean, smart, and thoroughly enjoyable. I truly think this would be a Disney classic on par with more famous flicks like Mary Poppins ("Gilligan's Island" was one of my favorite childhood shows, I loved "Swiss Family Robinson",)