Cinema: Marooned on the Red Planet

Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Break out the ray guns, boys! Here comes a horde of little green men? On the contrary, here comes a pleasant surprise: a piece of science fiction based on valid speculation, a modest yet provocative attempt to imagine what might happen if, in the next decade or so, a U.S. astronaut were spaceshipwrecked on the red planet and found himself, as Robinson Crusoe found himself 300 years ago, alone and desperate in a wild new world.

The wreck is credibly contrived. While circling Mars on a reconnaissance mission, the astronaut (Paul Mantee) changes course to avoid a...

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