Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)

110 mins | Science fiction | 10 June 1964

Director:

Byron Haskin

Producer:

Aubrey Schenck

Cinematographer:

Winton Hoch

Editor:

Terry Morse

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Arthur Lonergan
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HISTORY

On 28 May 1963, DV named Robinson Crusoe on Mars, a science fiction retelling of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), as one of eleven completed shooting scripts at Schenck-Zabel Productions. A Var item published the next day attributed the idea to Ib Melchior, former science editor of Life magazine. According to the 29 Oct 1963 NYT, the source material had long since entered into the public domain, and Melchior developed the new space age setting with Schenck, who does not receive credit for this role. Among the many departures from the original story, the leading character was renamed “Comdr. Christopher ‘Kit’ Draper,” and his canine companion changed to a woolly monkey, which the 27 Nov 1963 LAT identified as “Mona,” a three-year-old male from the Amazon River Valley. The budget was estimated at $1.5—$2 million, as part of a package deal with Paramount Pictures, as reported by the 9 Oct 1963 LAT.
       According to the 2 Dec 1963 DV, filming began that day in the California—Nevada border region of Death Valley, where the desert landscape doubled as the surface of the planet “Mars.”
       A 13 May 1964 Var news item announced Paramount’s plan to launch a 400-print saturation release beginning 10 Jun 1964 in eight markets, including Providence, RI. However, the 22 Jul 1964 LAT indicated that the Los Angeles, CA, debut did not take place until 29 Jul 1964, while a 26 Aug 1964 DV brief reported the picture opened that day at selected “showcase theaters” in New York City.
       Despite its modest budget, ... More Less

On 28 May 1963, DV named Robinson Crusoe on Mars, a science fiction retelling of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), as one of eleven completed shooting scripts at Schenck-Zabel Productions. A Var item published the next day attributed the idea to Ib Melchior, former science editor of Life magazine. According to the 29 Oct 1963 NYT, the source material had long since entered into the public domain, and Melchior developed the new space age setting with Schenck, who does not receive credit for this role. Among the many departures from the original story, the leading character was renamed “Comdr. Christopher ‘Kit’ Draper,” and his canine companion changed to a woolly monkey, which the 27 Nov 1963 LAT identified as “Mona,” a three-year-old male from the Amazon River Valley. The budget was estimated at $1.5—$2 million, as part of a package deal with Paramount Pictures, as reported by the 9 Oct 1963 LAT.
       According to the 2 Dec 1963 DV, filming began that day in the California—Nevada border region of Death Valley, where the desert landscape doubled as the surface of the planet “Mars.”
       A 13 May 1964 Var news item announced Paramount’s plan to launch a 400-print saturation release beginning 10 Jun 1964 in eight markets, including Providence, RI. However, the 22 Jul 1964 LAT indicated that the Los Angeles, CA, debut did not take place until 29 Jul 1964, while a 26 Aug 1964 DV brief reported the picture opened that day at selected “showcase theaters” in New York City.
       Despite its modest budget, critics consistently praised the technical effects and visual opportunities provided by updating Defoe’s classic for the science fiction genre. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 May 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1964.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Oct 1963
Section E, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1963
Section D, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
22 Jul 1964
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1964
Section C, p. 7.
New York Times
29 Oct 1963
p. 31.
New York Times
27 Aug 1964
p. 28.
Variety
29 May 1963
p. 7.
Variety
13 May 1964
p. 5.
Variety
24 Jun 1964
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Aubrey Schenck-Edwin F. Zabel Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Col cons
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (London, 1719).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 June 1964
Premiere Information:
Providence, Rhode Island, opening: 17 June 1964
Los Angeles opening: 29 July 1964
New York opening: 26 August 1964
Production Date:
began 2 December 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Devonshire Pictures
Copyright Date:
4 June 1964
Copyright Number:
LP28209
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Techniscope
Duration(in mins):
110
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

The U. S. spaceship Elinor M , while circling Mars to test its gravity, is drawn into the planet's gravitational field when it tries to avoid colliding with a meteor. Astronauts Christopher Draper and Dan McReady, accompanied by Mona, a pet monkey taken along for scientific observation, are forced to abandon their ship in ejector capsules. McReady is killed, but Draper and Mona safely reach Mars' surface. Conditions are rugged, but Draper soon learns to make fire by igniting certain stones that burn like coal, and when his oxygen gives out, he discovers that the stones give off the essential element. The monkey leads Draper to underground caves where he finds drinkable water and edible tubers. A slave escapes from an aircraft belonging to a strange planet and joins Draper on Mars. Draper christens him "Friday" and teaches him English, and the two become fast friends. When Friday's former captors begin to bombard Mars in an attempt to kill the escaped slave, Draper, Friday, and Mona escape through the underground canals of Mars and emerge at the planet's icecap. Just as a volcano erupts, melting the ice and causing a flood, the three are rescued by a U. S. ... +


The U. S. spaceship Elinor M , while circling Mars to test its gravity, is drawn into the planet's gravitational field when it tries to avoid colliding with a meteor. Astronauts Christopher Draper and Dan McReady, accompanied by Mona, a pet monkey taken along for scientific observation, are forced to abandon their ship in ejector capsules. McReady is killed, but Draper and Mona safely reach Mars' surface. Conditions are rugged, but Draper soon learns to make fire by igniting certain stones that burn like coal, and when his oxygen gives out, he discovers that the stones give off the essential element. The monkey leads Draper to underground caves where he finds drinkable water and edible tubers. A slave escapes from an aircraft belonging to a strange planet and joins Draper on Mars. Draper christens him "Friday" and teaches him English, and the two become fast friends. When Friday's former captors begin to bombard Mars in an attempt to kill the escaped slave, Draper, Friday, and Mona escape through the underground canals of Mars and emerge at the planet's icecap. Just as a volcano erupts, melting the ice and causing a flood, the three are rescued by a U. S. spaceship. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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