Recently I watched a new to me movie, which reminded me of one of my favorite movies as a kid, Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson. As I was raised to do, I read the book first and loved it, and then was introduced to this live action classic from 1960. Loosely based on the 1812 novel by Johann David Weiss, Disney acquired the rights to the Swiss Family Robinson in the 1940s after seeing an RKO produced version of the story.
The Swiss Family Robinson film is an adventure story laced with quite a bit of comedy, as well as a bit of romance, and lots of action. What I remember most from watching this movie when I was young is how awesome the treehouse was that the family built on the deserted island. This of course has been replicated in multiple Disney Parks around the world, including Disneyland from 1962 – 1999, the Magic Kingdom from opening day on October 1, 1971 and is still currently open. Disneyland Paris also opened with their version called La Cabane des Robinson, which is still open, and Tokyo Disneyland opened their Swiss Family Treehouse in 1993.
Aside from the awesome treehouse, Swiss Family Robinson always conjures up memories of the animal races the family had on the island, especially the ostrich. Right along with that memory is that of the climactic battle with the pirates at the fort. Those homemade coconut bombs looked so cool when I was a child (disclaimer: we do not condone the making of coconut or any other kinds of bombs. Don’t try any of this at home kids).
This film was extremely successful in its day, making back ten times over its original $4 million budget. In today’s dollars adjusted for inflation that $40 million take would be closer to $400 million, which makes it one of the most successful live action family films to this day. The Swiss Family Robinson is the first Disney live action movie to be filmed in the widescreen Panavision as opposed to CinemaScope. The movie stars John Mills (Disney Legend and father of also Disney Legend Hayley Mills), Dorothy McGuire (who also starred in Summer Magic and Old Yeller), James MacArthur (played in other Disney movies The Light in the Forest, Kidnapped, Third Man on the Mountain, and in several episodes of the Wonderful World of Color before his most famous role of Danno in Hawaii Five-0), Janet Munro (who starred with Sean Connery in Darby O’Gill and the Little People, as well as Third Man on the Mountain, and a few episodes of the Wonderful World of Color), along with Disney mainstays and also Disney Legends Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran.
I picked up the Swiss Family Robinson movie on dvd not too long ago when it was being offered on the Disney Movie Rewards website. It is still available on Amazon as well as a few other places for less than $10, or for rent through Amazon for $3. I haven’t watched it in years and intend to revisit it this week. If you haven’t seen it, or if it has been a while, I highly recommend watching this Disney classic and visiting the Swiss Family Treehouse the next time you’re in one of the three remaining parks you can.Follow us for more updates: