Robinson Crusoe On Mars — the most serious (and seriously underrated) sci-fi film made between Forbidden Planet (1956) and Planet of the Apes(1968) — makes its overdue video debut on this laserdisc in exemplary fashion. The wide-screen transfer (in standard play, for easy freeze-framing) faithfully reproduces the Death Valley locations that director Byron Haskin used to fill in for the Red Planet. There’s also informative commentary (on a second audio track) from the stars, writer Ib Melchior, and Haskin himself and, on side four, excerpts from the original screenplay and a production design sketchbook. Thanks to solid craftsmanship from all concerned, Defoe’s castaway story adapted just fine to an alien world. And the film’s animal costar, Barney the Woolly Monkey, is one of the few simian actors who doesn’t seem to have learned to scratch at the Actor’s Studio. A-
Posted January 17 2015 — 10:36 AM EST
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