Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964)

Starring Paul Mantee, Victor Lundin, Adam West
Directed by Byron Haskin
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An astronaut finds himself marooned on Mars, and as in the story of Robinson Crusoe, he tries to find a way to survive, and makes friends with an alien he dubs Friday.

I really like this film, an intelligent sci-fi updating of Daniel Defoe's well-known tale, with Mantee very likable in the lead role, and some excellent staging of the perils he faces.  Mars is as inhospitable as you could ever imagine, with fireballs streaking across the landscape, air too thin to breathe for more than a short period, and the planet itself is continually besieged by attacking aliens in super-fast spaceships streaking across the sky.  Science fiction movies are almost always dominated by exposition scenes and dialogue, so it was very refreshing to experience a minimum of exposition here.  We start out as our Earth ship begins orbiting Mars, and nothing is explained of why it is there or what its mission is.  We discover through the duration of the film along with Mantee's character, often seeing what he sees.  This really brings us into the story, a nice touch by the filmmakers.

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