2 August 2009 | MartinHafer
A nice little variation on the old Daniel Defoe story.
Douglas Fairbanks and his friends are yachting near a remote tropical island. On a lark, Fairbanks bets his friends that without any supplies, he can make a ideal life for himself. They agree to return later for him to check on his progress and so Fairbanks and his dog jump overboard--swimming to their new home.
Once on the island, Fairbanks seems excited by the prospect of creating his own home and civilizing the place. Soon, he has all the comforts of home and is quite happy--having rigged up all kinds of conveniences and really cool labor-saving devices. However, out of the blue arrives a man (who he of course christens 'Friday') and a young lady who has run away from an arranged marriage on her own island. Suddenly, his tropical getaway has become a rather crowded place! Overall, it's an amazingly interesting film considering that mostly it consists of Fairbanks doing a monologue. The gadgets helped but the script was well-written and interesting. Not a bad film at all, as it's unique and a nice variation on the old Daniel Defoe novel.
As you watch the movie, you may be a bit surprised by the nudity. While the film certainly isn't chock full of it, the film illustrates that in the days before the adoption of a strengthened Production Code in 1934, films were a lot more liberal in their sensibilities than we'd usually assume--much more so than even most films of the 1960s. The 1930s certainly was NOT a time of prudishness and repression--at least not the first part of the decade.
By the way, I have seen many silent Fairbanks films. However, with this sound film you can hear why he perhaps didn't make more talking pictures, as his voice is rather thin and high-pitched--certainly not the voice you'd expect from a matinée idol--as he was in the 1920s. But, despite this limitation, he was an amazingly spry man of nearly 50--moving about like a much younger man--almost like he did in the old days of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD and THE MARK OF ZORRO. This, by the way, turned out to be his second to last film.