Feb 25, 2016

Swiss Family Robinson

When I was a kid in the 1960s, most books were gender-coded, but both boys and girls received copies of Gulliver's Travels and the Johann David Wyss classic Swiss Family Robinson (1812) for their bookshelves.  Boys were expected to read it for the shipwreck and savages, and girls for the family setting up housekeeping on the desert island.

I didn't like it much. I had bad memories of The Book of Cute Boys that my father threw out the window.

 At least there was no heterosexual fade-out kiss -- the family encounters another shipwreck survivor, an "American cousin" whom no one bothers to fall in love with.  But there was little homoromance, either, with no one on the island but family.

But the tropical setting provided some beefcake potential, so I kept a close watch on the various film and tv versions.  Unfortunately, many of them upped the role of The Girl to create a heterosexual romance.

1. Swiss Family Robinson (1975-76). The  tv version with Adam-12 hunk Martin Milner and up-and-coming bodybuilder Willie Aames. No girl-craziness, but everyone was fully clothed throughout.

2. Swiss Family Robinson (1960).  The Disney version with James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk (left), and Kevin Corcorran.  Muscular physiques everywhere, but both Fritz and Ernst swoon over a girl.

3. The New Swiss Family Robinson (1998) is set in the modern era and adds a French-speaking jungle girl (Yumi Iwama), who kidnaps older brother Shane (John Asher of Weird Science).  They dive Tarzan-and-Jane style into the lagoon, kiss, and plan a wedding.

But at least younger brother Todd (Blake Bashoff expresses no interest.

4. Stranded (2002), with Jesse Spencer as Fritz.  Nuff said.

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