The film was based on Daniel Defoe's classic novel Robinson Crusoe, an idea that Walt Disney came up with himself. This is the only film in which Disney received a writing credit (under the pseudonym "Retlaw Yensid").
While flying a routine mission for the U.S. Navy, an emergency causes Lieutenant Robin Crusoe to eject from his F-8 Crusader into the ocean. Crusoe drifts on the ocean in an emergency life raft for several days and nights until landing on an uninhabited island. Crusoe builds a shelter for himself, fashions new clothing out of available materials, and begins to scout the island, discovering an abandoned Japanese submarine. Scouring the submarine, Crusoe discovers an astrochimp named Floyd, played by Dinky.
Using tools and blueprints found in the submarine, Crusoe and Floyd construct a Japanese pavilion, a golf course, and a mail delivery system for sending bottles containing missives to his fiancee out to sea.
Soon after, Crusoe finds that the island is not entirely uninhabited when he encounters a beautiful island girl, whom he names Wednesday. Wednesday recounts that due her unwillingness to marry, her chieftain father, Tanamashu, plans to sacrifice her and her sisters to Kaboona, an immense effigy on the island with whom he pretends to communicate.
The day Tanamashu arrives to the island, Crusoe uses paraphernalia from the submarine to combat Tanamashu, culminating in the destruction of the Kaboona statue.
After the battle, Crusoe and Tanamashu make peace. But when Crusoe makes it known that he does not wish to marry Wednesday, he is forced to flee to avoid her wrath. Pursued by a mob of irate island women, Crusoe is spotted by a U.S. Navy helicopter and he and Floyd narrowly escape with their lives. Large crowds turn out for their arrival on an aircraft carrier deck, but Floyd steals all the limelight.
- Dick Van Dyke as Lt. Robin Crusoe
- Nancy Kwan as Wednesday
- Akim Tamiroff as Tanamashu
- Floyd as Himself
- Arthur Malet as Umbrella Man
- Tyler McVey as Captain
- Peter Renaday as Pilot
- Peter Duryea as Co-Pilot
- John Dennis as Crew Chief
- Nancy Hsueh as Native Girl 1
- Victoria Young as Native Girl 2
- Yvonne Ribuca as Native Girl 3
- Bebe Louie as Native Girl 4
- Lucia Valero as Native Girl 5
- Richard Deacon as Survival Manual Narrator
- Ron Veto as Native
Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. premiered on June 29, 1966. Because the U.S. Navy cooperated in the film by allowing the producers to film on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, Walt Disney arranged the world premiere of the film to be shown on the ship to its crew as the only guests.
The film had its theatrical release on July 29, 1966. It was paired with the live-action short Run, Appaloosa, Run!. Upon its initial release, critics gave mostly negative reviews of the film. However, because of Dick Van Dyke's popularity, the film proved to be a financial hit grossing over $8 million at the box office. It was re-released to theaters in 1974.
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