For Reel

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
October 2, 2015, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ken Annakin
3 Stars
Swiss Family RobinsonIn the third act of Swiss Family Robinson, the eponymous clan fends off the attacks of hordes of non-white pirates through a series of carefully contrived booby traps. It’s as bizarre a sequence as any in Disney’s history–look, for instance, at the glee in which a young boy (Kevin Corcoran) throws a coconut grenade at an approaching enemy, or his excitement to see his allies crushed to death. What’s particularly unusual is that the picture approaches these sequences as characteristic of family bonding, where the unit is gathered together in the spirit of strengthening their relationships by defeating their foes. Very little has changed tonally from a previous scene in which they dressed in bright colors and rode animals, and yet now they are leaving corpses in their wake. While it might be a stretch to get too sociopolitical in discussing the issues of race at play and, in particular, the way the film demonstrates colonialism (Corcoran hops on a tortoise immediately after stepping foot on the island, as if claiming his territory), the film has some camp pleasures to be had in its utter irresponsibility regarding such issues. Dorothy McGuire, one of the most interesting actresses of the 1940s, is unfortunately wasted (she is a woman and this is a Disney movie after all), but John Mills is solid as the patriarch.

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