Robinson Crusoe. 1954. Mexico. Directed by Luis Buñuel. Screenplay by Buñuel, Hugo Butler. With Dan O’Herlihy, Jaime Fernández, Felipe de Alba, Chel López. English language version. DCP. 89 min.
His reputation burnished by the international success of Los olvidados, Buñuel and his regular producer, Oscar Dancigers, created both English and Spanish versions of the Defoe novel drawn from a script by blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Hugo Butler. Resisting Dancigers’ desire to cast Orson Welles in the part (Buñuel thought he looked too well-fed), the director settled instead on one of Welles’s Macbeth co-stars, the eccentric and appropriately slender Dan O’Herlihy. As Friday, Buñuel cast Jaime Fernández, the younger brother of Mexico’s most prominent actor-director, Emilio Fernández. Photographed in color by Alex Philipps under difficult conditions in the southwestern state of Colima, the film is both an allegory of imperialism and a deadpan comedy of reaction. O’Herlihy received an Oscar nomination for his performance and the film was the biggest commercial success of Buñuel’s Mexican period.