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Friday, December 16, 2011

Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964)

After their probe narrowly averts a collusion with a meteor, two astronauts (Paul Mantee, Adam West) find their ship caught in Mars' gravity pull and must eject. The only survivors are Mantee and a monkey called Mona (played by a monkey called Barney). While he manages to eke out survival, his is overcome by loneliness until he meets an escaped slave (Victor Lundin) from an alien civilization who he dubs Friday in honor of Robinson Crusoe. Long a cult favorite, this Byron Haskin (1953's WAR OF THE WORLDS) film is a visually arresting re-imagination of the classic Daniel Defoe novel. The art direction seems inspired somewhat by 1959's JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH's color palette and Winton C. Hoch's (THE SEARCHERS) eye popping wide screen Techniscope images are a beauty to behold. The film's special effects are fairly primitive by today's standards. It's a pity a stronger ending couldn't have been provided but most of what we're given is so good that it seems churlish to complain. The film retains the homo-eroticism that seems almost inherent in the Defoe tale.

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