Robinson Crusoe on Mars [RCM] is SO much better than you think it would be. It’s the story of an astronaut and his monkey who are stranded on the planet Mars. [Just go with it!] Yes, some of the special effects are hokey. Yes, some of the science is laughable. However, there is something earnest and endearing about the performance of Paul Mantee [Cagney & Lacey and lots of other TV credits] as Commander Kit Draper. He is front and center in every scene and carries the film very well. Kudos to Mona the Wooley Monkey for her slamming performance as his side-kick. I spent the movie thinking “If they kill that sweet little monkey off, I’m gonna lose it!] She is precious and does some pretty impressive work in the film.
RCM also stars the one and only Adam West [Batman TV series] as Col. McReady who, unfortunately dies early in the film. It left me wishing he could have stayed around a little longer because he has such a great presence on screen. The final actor is Victor Lundin as Friday, an escaped slave from the constellation of Orion who is also on Mars. [Again, just go with it!] He does a pretty decent job although his hair and costume choices are a bit ridiculous.
In addition to Mantee’s center stage performance, Director Byron Haskin [The War of the Worlds, Treasure Island] and Cinematographer Winton C. Hock [Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea] give us plenty to look at. The overall look of the film is quite beautiful in its wide range of sets from inhospitable landscapes to crystal filled caves. Furthermore, the props work quite well as Mantee improvises survival gear. Most of it is quite believable and help to add interest to Mantee’s struggle to survive this hostile environment.
You really should give RCM a try. If you like Sci-Fi I think you’ll find it to be quite an enjoyable viewing experience.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.