Miss Robin Crusoe
Directed byEugene Frenke
Screenplay byRichard Yriondo
Harold Nebenzal
Story byAl Zimbalist
(orig. story idea)
Based onRobinson Crusoe
1719 novel
by Daniel Defoe[1]
Produced byEugene Frenke
StarringAmanda Blake
George Nader
Rosalind Hayes
Narrated byAmanda Blake
CinematographyVirgil Miller
Edited byMerrill G. White
Thomas Pratt
Music byElmer Bernstein
Production
company
Eastern Film Enterprises[1]
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release date
November 1953[1]
Running time
74-75 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Miss Robin Crusoe is a low-budget 1953 adventure film produced and directed by Eugene Frenke, starring Amanda Blake, George Nader and Rosalind Hayes. One of many film variations of Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe, it features a female castaway.

Plot

On September 28, 1659, a ship founders. The captain's daughter and cabin boy named Robin Crusoe (Amanda Blake) and a sailor named Sykes reach a deserted island. When Sykes tries to force Robin to show her appreciation for his efforts, she flees up a hill. In the ensuing struggle, he falls over a cliff and is killed.

She soon settles in, building herself a tree house where she prays to God for saving her from the terror of the seas and the treachery of Sykes. In addition, she also prays for protection from any hostile creatures that would threaten her. Robin also writes in her journal about her survival. Taking the flintlock in her possession, Robin explores the rest of the island and even stops by a lake to go skinny dipping.

When a group of savages shows up with two women captives one day, she watches from hiding as they execute one in gruesome fashion. She then rescues the other (Rosalind Hayes), and the two fight off the men with the aid of her flintlock. She names her new companion Friday, as that was the day of her rescue. The two women become friends. Robin teaches Friday some words. Some days later, Robin is now barefoot and wearing a similar dress that Friday made for her. Friday has become her hunting companion and had to pantomime to Robin that a certain fruit would kill her.

In December, Royal Navy officer Jonathan (George Nader) washes ashore after a storm sinks his ship and kills his crewmates. Robin's experiences with lecherous sailors and her cruel father have embittered her against men, and she is hostile and suspicious at first. When Jonathan learns that she is repairing a longboat that can hold only two, he suggests that the "fittest" take it and send help back for Friday. Robin, however, insists she and Friday will use the boat. Eventually, Robin overcomes her prejudice against him, and they spend the night together.

The next morning, she awakens to find he has stolen the longboat and is sailing away. When he returns, she assumes he is a coward, and sets out to kill him. He informs her that he turned back for her. Before she can shoot him however, the savages return and capture Friday. Robin and Jonathan rescue her, but are surrounded. When all seems lost, Robin admits she wants to marry Jonathan. Just then, a warship appears and bombards the attackers, enabling the trio to steal an outrigger canoe and reach the safety of the ship.

Robin writes the final entry in her journal with Jonathan's help as his hand is shown touching her hand.

Cast

Production

Miss Robin Crusoe had the working title "Miss Robinson Crusoe". When producer Eugene Franke attempted to register that title with the Motion Picture Registration Bureau, there were objections raised by Óscar Danciger, who had recently completed a film called Robinson Crusoe in Mexico, and M-G-M, which was planning a film to be called "Robinson Crusoe" starring Spencer Tracy. The MPRB decided in September 1953 that Franke could use either "Miss Robin Crusoe" or "Miss Robinson Crusoe". Danciger re-titled his film Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.[1]

The director originally slated to helm the film was E. A Dupont.[1]

Production of the film – which was shot in Pathécolor – ended October 14, 1952 at Samuel Goldwyn Studios.[1] Location shooting took place in Palos Verdes, California, in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.[2]

Although Miss Robin Crusoe was a low-budget film, its score is by the noted film composer Elmer Bernstein, who, like many others in Hollywood during the witch hunt for Communists by the House Un-American Activities Committee, found it hard to get work. Bernstein had not been blacklisted, but had been what he referred to as "graylisted", saying "I wasn't one of the big wheels of the Communist Party or anything, but I'd done enough left-wing things that between about 1953 and 1955, the major studios would have been very loath to employ me." Bernstein was forced to take work that he would not have previously accepted, such as this film, as well as others such as Robot Monster and Cat-Women of the Moon.[3]

Critical response

The film was not well received. Critic Win Fanning wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "As it is quite impossible to believe that a number of grown men and women could seriously go about the making of a movie called Miss Robin Crusoe, it must be assumed some sort of joke is intended. It isn't a very good joke, but it has its moments of hilarity."[2]

References