Miss Robin Crusoe (1953): Frenke’s Female-Centered Version of Robinson Crusoe

Eugene Frenke produced and directed Miss Robin Crusoe, a low-budget adventure film, starring Amanda Blake, George Nader and Rosalind Hayes.

Featuring a female castaway, this is one of many screen variations of Daniel Defoe’s seminal 1719 novel, “Robinson Crusoe.”

The film is narrated by its protagonist.

On September 28, 1659, a ship founders, and the captain’s daughter, cabin boy named Robin Crusoe (Amanda Blake), and sailor named Sykes reach a deserted island.

When Sykes tries to force Robin to show her appreciation, she flees up a hill. In the ensuing struggle, he falls over a cliff and is killed.

She soon settles in, building herself a tree house, praying to God for saving her from the terror of the seas. She also prays for protection from any hostile creatures that would threaten her.

Taking the flintlock in her possession, Robin begins exploring the rest of the island; she even goes skinny dipping by the lake.

When a group of savages shows up with two women captives, she watches from hiding as they execute one. She then rescues the other (Rosalind Hayes), and the two fight off the men with her flintlock. She names her new companion Friday, after the day of her rescue.

The two women become friends and Robin soon starts wearing the same native dress as Friday.

In December, Royal Navy officer Jonathan (George Nader) washes ashore. Robin’s experiences with sailors and her cruel father have embittered her against men, and she is hostile and suspicious.

When Jonathan learns that she is repairing a longboat that can hold only two, he suggests that the “fittest” take it and send help back for Friday. Robin, however, insists she and Friday will use the boat. Eventually, Robin overcomes her prejudice against him, and they spend the night together.

She awakens to find out that he has stolen the longboat and is sailing away. When he returns, she sets out to kill him. Before she can shoot him however, the savages return and capture Friday. Robin and Jonathan rescue her, but are surrounded.  When all seems lost, Robin admits she wants to marry Jonathan.

A warship appears and bombards the attackers, enabling the trio to steal an outrigger canoe and reach the safety of the ship.

Miss Robin Crusoe had the working title “Miss Robinson Crusoe,” but when producer Franke attempted to register that title, there were objections raised by Óscar Danciger, who had recently completed a film called Robinson Crusoe in Mexico, and MGM, which was planning a film starring Spencer Tracy.

The director originally slated to helm was E. A Dupont.

Shot in Pathécolor in Palos Verdes, California, in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Although Miss Robin Crusoe was a low-budget film, its score is by the noted film composer Elmer Bernstein

Like many others in Hollywood during the witch hunt for Communists by the House Un-American Activities Committee, he found it hard to work; he had not been blacklisted, but wass “graylisted.” He later claimed: “I wasn’t one of the big wheels of the Communist Party or anything, but I’d done enough left-wing things that between about 1953 and 1955, the major studios would have been very loathe to employ me.”

Bernstein was forced to take B-level work, such as this film, Robot Monster and Cat-Women of the Moon.

Cast
Amanda Blake as Miss Robin Crusoe
George Nader as Jonathan
Rosalind Hayes as Friday

Credits:

Produced, directed by Eugene Frenke
Screenplay by Richard Yriondo, Harold Nebenzal; story by Al Zimbalist, based on Robinson Crusoe 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe
Narrated by Amanda Blake
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Virgil Miller
Edited by Merrill G. White, Thomas Pratt
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release date November 1953
Running time 74 minutes

Note:

TCM showed the movie on May 18, 2021.