Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Johan David Wyss' novel Swiss Family Robinson had been in print for nearly fifty years before the first film version was made by RKO in 1940. Thomas Mitchell is top-billed as the patriarch of the Robinson family, who, as in the book, are shipwrecked on a tropical island and compelled to bring the edicts and values of civilization to their tiny patch of the world. To give the story a bit of topicality, screenwriters Walter Ferris, Gene Towne and Graham Baker contrive to depict the Robinsons as refugees from a foreign war (Napoleonic rather than Hitler-inspired). Produced independently by The Play's the Thing Productions and released by RKO, Swiss Family Robinson was completely withdrawn from circulation on the occasion of the 1960 Disney remake. Side note: The 1940 version represented the feature film debut of Orson Welles, who functioned as offscreen narrator.
against-all-odds, disaster, family, family-in-danger, island, pirate [seafarer], sea, sea-disaster, shipwreck, storm, survivor, swashbuckler, wilderness
High Production Values