What a goofy movie.
Yet, what fun! Byron Haskins, who also made The War of the Worlds, was obviously having the time of his life and had a budget and crew talented enough to take the Daniel Defoe’s classic novel and transport it to space.
Commander Christopher “Kit” Draper, USN (Paul Mantee, The Manitou) and Colonel Dan McReady, USAF (Adam West!) reach the Marsin their spaceship and within moments, the future Batman is dead and Kit is lost on the Red Planet.
Speaking of Batman, Victor Lundin, who plays the alien slave that Kit names Friday, was the Octopus on that show. He also played the first Klingon the crew of the Enterprise ever met on Star Trek. When Lundin did science fiction conventions, he would often sing, and he even wrote a song about this movie called “Robinson Crusoe on Mars.” Thanks to Yeah, Flik! for posting this.
There’s also a monkey named Mona along for the trip.
A sequel Robinson Crusoe in the Invisible Galaxy was planned and the actors thought that this movie would make their careers. It did not, as Paramount barely distributed the movie and the reviews were not kind.
Even stranger, screenwriter Ib Melchior and Victor Lundin collaborated on a script called Columbus of the Stars after this movie. They showed it to Paramount and soon enough, Star Trek came out. That said, this story feels very urban legend, as Desilu produced the original series.
There’s also a scene where the monkey is clearly taking a dump, so keep your eyes open for that!