Confession: I’m not Swiss, but sometimes I carry one of their army knives. (That’s ok, my wife didn’t think that was funny either.)
This movie killed it at the box office and is one of the most successful family films ever made. It was also the highest grossing film of 1960, beating out movies like Spartacus and Psycho (you know, other family films).
Here’s a quick view of the cast:
- The father is played by John Mills, an Oscar-winning English actor and coincidentally the father of Hayley Mills. (I heard a rumor that he even made a cameo in Parent Trap but that could be a pack of vicious lies.)
- The mother is played by Dorothy McGuire. She starred in classic films such as Friendly Persuasion, Three Coins in the Fountain, and a terrific old thriller called The Spiral Staircase. (In fact, if you listen closely, you’ll hear John Mills make a crack about that film in this movie when he tells Dorothy she’ll have her own “circular stairway” in their tree house.)
- James MacArthur plays the eldest son, Fritz, and is probably most famous for his role as Danny in an old TV show called Hawaii Five-O. (If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Book ‘em, Danno” he’s the “Danno.” If you were born in my generation and have not heard that phrase, don’t worry, you’re normal.)
- The other two brothers, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran, were in a whole slew of Disney movies, and made several others together including action-packed canine thrillers like Old Yeller and The Shaggy Dog.
- The only other film I’ve seen Roberta in is Darby O’Gill and the Little People. I did, however, recognize the guy who plays her grandfather as the king in Court Jester. (Not that I’m a Danny Kaye fan or anything…)
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Now I could be wrong. I could be very wrong. And at the risk of sounding like the stereotypical ignorant American who is woefully oblivious to other cultures (which I am) I’m just going to say it: I don’t think those pirates are speaking a real language. It’s like the studio just grabbed a group of non-Swiss-looking dudes and said, “Just look really mad, spew out a bunch of gibberish, and no one will know you’re from Nebraska.”
But pirate languages are not what’s important. What’s important is what’s important. Here’s something important Roberta says to Fritz about what’s important:
It’s funny how you can change your mind about what’s important—what it is you really want. Take your parents—all of this time they’ve been wanting to get to New Guinea, and now when they really have their chance, they find out everything they want is right here.
Like the Swiss family Robinson, all of our lives can take unexpected turns. The answers to our prayers that come through the blessings of our Heavenly Father are not always just as we expect. It’s easy to see the hand of God in our lives when we look back, but that’s much more difficult to comprehend in our current circumstances.
We’ll never find joy in seeking a better future if we fail to recognize the present good. But if we understand and appreciate what’s really important, we’ll be happy and successful on whatever island we land.
“In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me…” — Isaiah 49:2