Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
“What about our sons? What future is there here for them?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Dozens of animals from around the world were shipped to the island, under the care of no less than 14 trainers. The movie cost 4.5 million dollars to make, but was (and remained) so popular it is considered one of the most profitable films of all time — and its fame lives on through reconstructions of the family’s elaborate treehouse at theme parks around the world.
Unfortunately, despite its beloved status, the film is far from a true classic. There’s plenty of adventure to be had, but it’s all so patently unbelievable — a chase between people riding zebras and ostriches?? — that only the youngest or most naive of viewers will be taken in. The two primary plot elements driving the narrative are the family’s attempts to stave off a persistent band of pirates (led by Sessue Hayakawa), and the love triangle that instantly emerges when the two older Robinson brothers conveniently stumble upon (and easily rescue) a teenage girl. Who will win her heart? How will the other boy handle his defeat? Munro is a sweet and lovely actress, but her characterization here does no favors to her gender, and is especially disappointing after her sparkling turn in Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) the year before. [Thankfully, she got back on track with her notable performance as a deep-throated romantic interest the following year in The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961).]
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Swiss Family Robinson (1960)”
First viewing. Not must-see.
Apparently I went through childhood without seeing this. Since it’s a Disney ‘adventure film’, I approached it as something that might require suspension of disbelief. And it is.
Overall, it’s not a terrible film – for what it is, it’s watchable – but it’s not wildly interesting. It seems that Peary had the idea that just about every movie he saw as a kid was somehow worthy of being included in a guide for all film fanatics. It’s puzzling why he would think that.