by Lee Payant
Director of Photography Quinto Albicoco
Art Director Robert Luchaire
Music by Robert Mellin & Gian-Piero Reverberi
The Paul Whiteman Orchestra
conducted by Gian-Piero Reverberi
Film Editors Borys Lewin & Helene Plemiannikov
Carriere, Pierre Reynal & Jacques Somet
Sound Engineer Georges Mardiguian
Executive Producer Claire Monis
Directed by Jean Sacha
Produced by Henry Deutschmeister
in 1964, this Franco-London Films production was originally
made in French and the show was first aired in Germany in
October 1964 under the title 'Robinson Crusoe' as four x 90-minute
episodes by co-producers ZDF. Overdubbed in English, it was
syndicated in America in the same year before being bought
by the BBC, first appearing on UK television screens in 1965.
London Films made 3 different 'cuts' of the show - a 4-part version,
a 6-part version and a 13-part version to accommodate the different
broadcasting requirements of countries buying the series. Certain
scenes were shot with different actors for the German cut and some
extra scenes were filmed, e.g. Wooseley's niece, the Blind man and
Jenny do not appear in the French or English versions. Starring Austrian
actor Robert Hoffman as Daniel Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe, with Fabian
Canalos also appearing in the last four episodes as 'Friday', the
island scenes of the 13 x 25 minute episodes were shot mainly in the
It continued to be transmitted sporadically at various times for many
years after which the tapes were 'lost' - apparently dumped into a
skip by mistake during a clear-out of old material. Fortunately, the
'English' version was still to be found deep in the archives of a
French television library 15 years later and have now been restored
and released, first on video and latterly available on DVD.
Possibly the most memorable thing about the series is the haunting
theme tune and soundtrack by Robert Mellin and Gian-Pero Reverberi,
quite amazing for a fairly low-budget production. Strangely, the French
version has a different musical score, by George Van Parys, which
contains a lot of harpsichord and is arguably less evocative. Neither
does the French version have the wonderful conversational narration
of Lee Payant (actually born in Seattle, U.S.A. in 1924), Robinson
Crusoe's charming 'English' tenor voice for the greater part of the
series, apart from sequences involving direct dialogue from Hoffman
himself, usually in flashback sequences or in conversation with Friday.
Payant ran a popular Paris 'left bank' cafe, L'Abbaye, with his lover
Gordon Heath until his death in 1976.
Robert Hoffman ...............Robinson Crusoe
Lee Payant .....................Voice of Robinson Crusoe (English
Fabian Cevallos ..............Friday
Jacques Berthier .............Robinson's father
Phillipe Ogouz ................Rodney
Phillipe Bruneau .............Robinson's friends in York
Guy Mairesse .................Captain of the Guard
Alain Nobis .................... Jeremias B.Wooseley, the lawyer
Robert Dalban ................ Captain Darrick (parts 4/5)
Jacques Dynam .............. Bush, second mate on Darrick's ship
(part 5) Luc Andrieux .................. Kasir, the fishmonger (part
Additional Cast of German Cut:
Erich Bludau ......................Robinson's father
Jane Marken ......................Jenny, the Crusoe's housekeeper
Oskar von Schab ................Jeremias B. Wooseley, the lawyer
Claudia Berg ......................Wooseley's niece
Paul Chevalier ....................Blind man
Michael Chevalier ...............Narrator
|The series is
based on Daniel Defoe's classic novel written in 1721 which itself
was based on the true survival story of Alexander Selcraig (a.k.a.
Selkirk) from around the turn of the century. Robinson Crusoe's island
locations were filmed at Playa del Ingles at the southern end of Gran
Canaria. The Moroccan 'slave' scenes were filmed further along the
coast at Playa de Maspalomas and Maspalomas. The village of Cruz de
Tajeda, located inland, was used for the 'Brazilian' scenes. The 'English'
locations (York and Hull) were shot in Normandy, France. Sadly, as
Hoffmann explains in his interview, many of the then remote and secluded
locations in the Canaries used for filming have since been urbanised
and constructed on. However, you can actually visit the real original
'Robinson Crusoe' Island, Juan
Fernandez Archipelago, book a tour of the island and even a holiday
Hoffmann, born 30th August 1939 in Salzburg, Austria, is
by far best known for his debut performance in the title role of this
cult series, but has also appeared in many other film and television
productions Germany, Italy, France and occasionally the UK, notably
as the U-boat Captain in the 1980 film "The Sea Wolves" starring Gregory
Peck, Roger Moore, David Niven, Trevor Howard and Patrick Macnee.
He also appeared, briefly, in the epic US television series 'Dallas'.
In 1997 he was interviewed for the V.I.P show when the Robinson Crusoe
series was eventually released on video. This interview is contained
in the 2007 Network DVD release of the series.
In 1997 the complete series was released on 4 volumes of VHS video
by Network thanks to Tim Beddows who tracked down the only known English
language prints to a French film vault. However, these were only 16mm
prints - original 35mm prints used by the BBC between 1965 and 1982
had been lost and no other 35mm prints survived.
In 2006 the 4-part German version was released on DVD by Concorde
Home Entertainment using restored 35mm prints. In 2007 Network released
the series on DVD as a two-disc set with extra features including
a merchandise gallery, the first episode of the original French series
with Portuguese subtitles and an alternate musical audio track (overdubbed
for US and UK broadcast), and an image gallery which includes stills
from the 'missing' German scenes.
1966 a 7-inch single of the theme tune (Main Theme from Robinson
Crusoe / Adrift) by the Franco London Orchestra was released by
Philips records (BF 1470) in the UK and an LP record of George van
Parys' original score was released in France by Petit Menestrel
Records (ALB 405). Subsequent re-releases by Philips included 'Theme
from Robinson Crusoe / Adrift' (March1967 - Philips BF 1562) and
'Main Theme from Robinson Crusoe / Adrift' (August 1969 - Philips
BF 1806). An LP was also released in Germany by Polydor records.
In 1990 Silva Screen released the music from the English dub of
the series by Robert Mellin and Gian-Piero Reverberi on CD, the
tracks being taken from tapes kept by Robert Mellin in Italy. An
extended version was released in 1997, as more tapes were found
at Franco London Films in France.
CD SLEEVE NOTES FOR THE 1997 EDITION by Mark Ayres, 2nd September
The master tapes from which this CD has been compiled came from
two sources. Composer Robert Mellin had two reels which he loaned
to Silva Screen Records in 1990 and from which the original CD was
mastered. Earlier this year  another four reels came to light
at Franco London Films. To understand what these reels contained
it is necessary to describe the production process. "The Adventures
of Robinson Crusoe" was scored from a library of cues provided by
the composers, with cues written for various moods and situations,
re-cut to suit the individual episodes.
The music cues were recorded at various sessions, with safety copies
made of the tapes - two of which found their way into Mr. Mellin's
possession. From the original masters, copies were made and the
copies edited to form play-in tapes of edited cues for individual
episodes. Many passages of music were used more than once. When
the edited reels were completed, further safety copies were made
of the edits, and it is those safety reels that have now come to
light, the previous masters are still lost. In compiling this CD,
I spent many hours listening to the tapes (over two hours of material),
over and over again, in order to pick the best copy of each section
of music and to work out how the music was written before it had
I then re-edited the tapes to reconstruct the original cues. The
source tapes were at least third generation and more than thirty
years old, nevertheless they were in very good condition, but technical
resources in 1963 were not what they are now and there were many
small electrical clicks and pops evident in the masters, some more
irritating passages of continuous interference and evidence of chewed
tape on the masters being copied to the safeties!
To re-master the music, I manually removed most of the clicks and
pops using Sound Designer software running on an Apple Mac Computer
before re-compiling the master in Pro Tools using various software
from Digidesign and Waves to de-noise and re-equalise the music.
The main criteria involved removing artefacts added after the recording
of the original master but to leave the original sound intact. As
a result, you will occasionally hear some soft clicks; minor distortion
and dropouts caused by worn tape, but these should not detract from
the enjoyment of this wonderful music from a classic series.
1. (First shown 12th October 1965)
The year is 1697 and, while passenger on the 'Esmeralda' sailing from Brazil
to Guyana, the ship is hit by a terrible storm and Robinson Crusoe finds
himself to be the sole human survivor, shipwrecked on a desert island off
the coast of South America.
2. (First shown 19th October 1965)
Crusoe builds a shelter in a tree and finds a solution for the lack of food
and encounters his first companion, a dog that also survived the wreck.
He spends much of his time reminiscing about his youthful activities in
3. (First shown 26th October 1965)
Robinson recalls leaving home and travelling to Hull to seek a ship. The
remains of the 'Esmeralda' are washed near the shore and he busies himself
salvaging as much as possible before it sinks.
4. (First shown 2nd November 1965)
Robinson finds a hoard of treasure aboard the wreck, although it is not
much use to him. He recalls his first sea voyages and finds a cave which
becomes his new home.
5. (First shown 9th November 1965)
Attempts at making furniture prove to be less than successful. Crusoe's
memories take him back to his first real voyage and the events that resulted
in him being captured and placed in slavery.
6. (First shown 16th November 1965)
A fire in his cave destroys all he has created. While rebuilding his home
he recalls how he escaped from slavery and the events that led him to become
owner of a Brazilian banana plantation.
7. (First shown 23rd November 1965)
Robinson's recollections relate how he came to be aboard the ill-fated 'Esmeralda'.
He makes a disastrous attempt to enlarge his living quarters and starts
to construct a canoe with which to escape the island.
8. (First shown 30th November 1965)
Robinson becomes adept at making items such as baskets, pottery and bread.
He explores his island and discovers another ship that has run aground from
which he salvages more useful items.
9. First shown 7th December 1965)
Robinson and his animal companions 'celebrate' his third year on the island
with a banquet. Having had rather too much to drink, he returns to the wreck
to try and find more rum. He falls asleep and wakes to find that the ship
has floated away from his own island.
10. (First shown 14th December 1965)
Robinson finds himself on a new island and this time sees footprints in
the sand, discovering that the island is visited by fierce cannibals! He
rescues one of their planned victims and names him 'Friday' after the day
of the week.
11. (First shown 21st December 1965)
Despite Robinson's attempts to educate Friday in how to be 'civilised',
Friday does not seem to be enamoured by the idea of becoming a manservant
and runs away.
12. (First shown 28th December 1965)
Friday returns to Crusoe, much to his relief, having blamed himself for
the departure of his only companion. Some other, more unwelcome, company
arrives on the island - mutineers!
13. (First shown 30th December 1965)
Friday and Robinson fight and manage to defeat the murderous mutineers and
eventually make their escape from the island. Returning to England, they
start writing the story of their adventures.