Movie Review – ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ (1960)

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ and I’m Tim Bradley!

Last Friday, my parents and I checked out the 1960 classic Disney film called ‘Swiss Family Robinson’! I have seen this film before as it was shown to me and my class when I was at primary school in the 1990s. I enjoyed the film as a kid. It was nice to revisit the film on Disney+ with me as a grown-up. 🙂

‘Swiss Family Robison’ was a major success with both critics and audiences upon its release in 1960. It remains one of Disney’s most beloved live-action feature films. It stars John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, Janet Munro, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran. It’s a well-produced film.

The film is based on the 1812 novel called ‘The Swiss Family Robinson’ by Johann David Wyss. I’ve not read the book but it was intriguing to see the 1960 film as a kid. The 1960 film was the second film adaptation of the book to be made. The first film adaptation was made by RKO Pictures in 1940.

The story is about a Swiss family from Bern who get shipwrecked during a storm and they soon build a home for themselves on a remote island. The family soon have to defend their home from pirates who attacked their ship during the storm and they also protect the granddaughter of a sea captain.

The performances of the cast are very good in this film, though I’m curious why the Robinson family sounded more American than Swiss. Don’t Swiss people come from Switzerland? Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but I’m sure Swiss people wouldn’t sound American as the Robinsons were in this film. 😐

John Mills stars William Robinson in the film…or is it Father? Dorothy McGuire stars as Elizabeth Robinson in the film…or is it Mother? Yeah, it was strange when watching the film to hear the Father and Mother characters refer to each other as ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ rather than their Christian names.

James MacArthur stars as Fritz Robinson, the eldest son of the family whilst Tommy Kirk plays Ernst Robinson, the second eldest son. Ernst tries to be the brains of the family whilst Fritz seems to be the muscle. It was amusing once the two brothers competed with each other for Roberta’s affection.

Speaking of which, Janet Munro plays Roberta, the granddaughter of the sea captain whom Fritz and Ernst rescue from the pirates. Roberta started off disguising herself as a boy in order to prevent the pirates from knowing who she was. Fritz and Ernst are surprised when they find out Roberta’s a girl.

Kevin Corcoran plays Francis Robinson, the young boy of the Robinson family. I didn’t mind him when I was watching ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ as a kid, but watching him lately, he can be annoying. He could be more annoying than little Anakin Skywalker was in ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’. 😐 Incidentally, the film’s director is Ken Annakin. Get it? ‘Annakin’!!! Ha, ha! Aw, forget it!

There are quite a number of animals featured in this film. This includes two Great Danes, once owned by the former sea captain of the wrecked ship; a baby elephant that Francis adopts and calls ‘Rocky’, a zebra and a tiger who I am sure must be Shere Khan patrolling the jungles of the island. 😀

The pirates are led by Sessue Hayakawa as Kuala, the pirate captain. Now, when watching the film on Disney+, it came with a ‘content advisory warning’ saying that it had negative depictions of people or cultures. This relates to the pirates being of Asian and ethnic origins outside of ‘whites’.

Now, I don’t know whether the 1960 film is a faithful adaptation of the original book and I’m not sure if things are historically accurate in the film, but there must’ve been pirate groups who were Asian, weren’t there? Didn’t the third ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film have a Asian pirate group?

The film also features Cecil Parker as Captain Moreland, the sea captain grandfather of Roberta. I was amazed to discover from my parents that Cecil Parker was in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 film ‘The Lady Vanishes’. I could tell it was him from recognising the voice once my parents told me who he was.

I enjoyed watching the 1960 ‘Swiss Family Robison’ film on Disney+ lately. Even though the film has a cultural insensitivity about it concerning the pirates, I found this to be an entertaining adventure film. I also laughed a lot when the pirate captain threw a bomb over his shoulder in the film’s climax.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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