Robin Crusoe (Van Dyke) is a U.S. Navy pilot whose fighter jet fails during a routine mission, forcing him to ditch somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. He braves the perils of survival in a life raft — accompanied by an oddly comprehensive instruction manual — before being washed up on a tropical island. There he meets his Man Friday in Floyd the Space Chimp, and his Girl Friday, whom he names Wednesday (Nancy Kwan). But Crusoe's survival of the elements is nothing compared to surviving Wednesday's father, the headhunter chief Tanamashu (Akim Tamiroff)...
This film provides examples of:
- Accidental Marriage: During the victory celebration near the end, Wednesday gets Crusoe to dance with her. Cue her father saying, "Hey, wise guy do pretty good marriage dance!" During the ensuing argument (Robin is engaged, after all) he accidentally pushes Wednesday down, which she does not take well! Cue the chase and rescue sequence.
- Actor Allusion:
- Crusoe refers to himself as "Rob". And when he reads the Navy Survival Manual, the officious-sounding narration is provided by Richard Deacon (aka Mel Cooley).
- Just before bolting from being married to Wednesday, Crusoe sings part of the lyrics to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", a song from another Disney film Dick Van Dyke he was in.
- All There in the Manual/Great Big Book of Everything: The U.S. Navy Survival Manual, titled "Survival at Sea and Like It". While it really does address everything he encounters, it gets pretty bossy, and Crusoe eventually gets fed up with it and tosses it in the ocean.
- Apes in Space: Floyd the Space Chimp, an Ape In Space who was never found after he splashed down and was stuck on the island. He becomes Crusoe's Man Friday. When Crusoe is saved by a helicopter in the end, he makes them go back because he considers Floyd more important than him. When he gets back, he finds out everyone agrees with that.
- Bamboo Technology: Crusoe is positively Professor-like in his ability to build things from bamboo... although it helps that he found an old Japanese sub full of stuff.
- Coconut Meets Cranium: When he first gets to the island, and the rainstorm hits.
- Companion Cube: Played with concerning the survival manual. The viewers hear its voice as Crusoe reads it, but he talks back to it, it changes inflection, and when Crusoe eventually "drowns" it we hear it blubbing, which is definitely not written down.
- Credits Gag: See Sdrawkcab Name, below.
- Food Pills: Crusoe takes four at once of these while in a life raft in the ocean. He gets the hiccups.
- Framing Device: Crusoe begins and ends the movie writing a letter to his fiance, Jane, explaining why he didn't make it to their wedding. (see page quote)
- Island Help Message: Crusoe makes a big "HELP" sign when he first gets on the island. When he actually hears a helicopter, he runs out to it, only to discover he's forgotten to maintain it, and the coconuts are covered in sand.
- Monumental Damage: The statue/idol Kabuna goes through this when the pyrotechnics get out of control, ending with it "smiling" due to the damage.
- Mustache Vandalism: After being sorely tempted by Wednesday, then reminded by the myna ("Rawk! Remember Jane!"), Crusoe pulls out the picture of his fiance, Jane—only to find that the native girls have defaced it with a mustache, blacked-out teeth and goatee (or maybe it's a Van Dyke?).
- Recycled In Space: It's Robinson Crusoe, WITH A FIGHTER PILOT, as a comedy.
- Robinsonade, of course.
- Sdrawkcab Name: The story is credited to Retlaw Yensid.
- Tempting Fate: "My father doomed me when he named me Robinson."
- Too Important to Walk: Wednesday's despot father gets carried across the beach on a four-mook sedan chair like this.Wednesday: What Daddy doing now?
Crusoe: (through binoculars, sees a litter bearer stumble; Daddy whacks him with a club, and another litter bearer replaces him) Changing a tire.