…that the Captain ran into the storm and abandoned ship with everyone bar the Swiss Family Robinson.
While it may be dated (who cares?), I always sit there with a smile on my face watching this 1960 adventure movie. Before I go on…there might be some spoilers ahead. Just so you know.
Pirate Chief Kuala (Sessue Hayakawa), is not only to blame for the family’s new home on a magnificent island (I did a post on their house (here) a while back) but for introducing us to Fritz‘ (James MacArthur) future love interest (and Ernst‘s (Tommy Kirk) crush too. You see, they’re a bad bunch these pirates and have taken Captain Moreland (Cecil Parker) and his “cabin boy” Roberta (Janet Munro) captive. Fritz and Ernst, meanwhile, have embarked on some brotherly bonding and are exploring their new island home. Coincidentally and conveniently, they come across a pirate fist-fight and in the commotion manage to free Roberta. There flees the leverage for a handsome (or should I say pretty) ransom. That also means that we haven’t seen the last of our pirates.
Our trio have an adventure and discover the island along with the fact that Roberta is a girl (and the daughter of Captain Moreland). Of course we’d be disappointed if there wasn’t some romance and I admit, it really is sweet.
Of course there can’t be an end without another pirate showdown. After all: “The pirates know you took their prisoner. They also know you are someone on this island. Do you think they are likely to forget about that?”. It really is a fun ending with coconut bombs, rolling logs and a single family taking on a whole lot of pirates.
We know what to expect just before those credits roll but we also know that it is a family movie after all. A great one of learning to survive, that plans unexpectedly change and that romance can be found in the most unusual of places. Yes, every now and then you have to look past the absurd, or the things that somehow just don’t fit in properly, but if you remember that this is Walt Disney escapism and 1960s pirate fun, you’ll enjoy it.
John Mills and Dorothy McGuire are Father and Mother, with Kevin Corcoran completing the family as son Francis.