Man Friday

  • 1975
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Drama

Yet another variation of Defoe's classic Robinson Crusoe, MAN FRIDAY doesn't compare with the 1954 film, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE, which earned Dan O'Herlihy an Oscar nomination (which he lost to Marlon Brando for ON THE WATERFRONT). O'Toole is Crusoe and has already spent a dozen years stranded on an island when four natives, along with the body...read more

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Yet another variation of Defoe's classic Robinson Crusoe, MAN FRIDAY doesn't compare with the 1954 film, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE, which earned Dan O'Herlihy an Oscar nomination (which he lost to Marlon Brando for ON THE WATERFRONT). O'Toole is Crusoe and has already spent a

dozen years stranded on an island when four natives, along with the body of a fifth, arrive from a nearby island. They are in the middle of an elaborate native ceremony to bury the dead man when O'Toole arrives with a loaded pistol and shoots three of them. He spares Roundtree and names him Friday

(because that's what day it is) after Roundtree bows and darn near rolls over like a whipped dog. O'Toole believes his job is to make Roundtree a Christian, or kill him in the attempt. Roundtree soon realizes his captor is whacked out, so he does everything O'Toole wants, including the burial of

his compatriates. O'Toole teaches Roundtree to speak English and to play various sports, and Roundtree allows himself to be "civilized" or, at least, pretends he is. O'Toole beats Roundtree regularly, though he does his best to please O'Toole. Eventually Roundtree feels so put upon that he

volunteers to be executed rather than continue this servile situation. O'Toole hates the thought of being alone again, so he eases off and puts Roundtree on a salary by paying him gold coins he keeps in a large chest. Roundtree has no idea what these are worth and wonders. O'Toole gives him a

comparison and says that 2,000 of the coins would be about right to buy all of O'Toole's goods and his hut. A ship appears on the horizon, and O'Toole rejoices until he learns it's a slave trader. Cellier and Cabot come off the ship to meet O'Toole, and he overhears that they mean to kill him and

take Roundtree on the ship and later sell him as a slave. O'Toole and Roundtree get together to kill the two men and drive their crew out to sea. Now O'Toole and Roundtree try to leave the island by means of a crude raft, but they are soon tossed ashore again. Roundtree soon discovers something

very interesting; he finds the ship O'Toole arrived on. The black man dives underwater and brings up with him the 2,000 coins required to buy all of O'Toole's possessions. Now O'Toole becomes the slave. He must sleep on the sand, do all of Roundtree's bidding, and help build another raft. The

construction of the raft is finished, and the two men sail to Roundtree's island, where a great reunion celebration takes place. O'Toole, seeing this rush of warmth, indicates that he might like to become part of Roundtree's village, and the tribal council meets to consider his request. But as

Roundtree recounts all the indignities that O'Toole put him through, it is soon clear the tribe will not accept O'Toole because his presence could prove to be a perilous force to the tribe. O'Toole pleads with the tribe, but all his words fall on deaf ears, and the tribe takes him back to his

lonely island and leaves him on the beach to sit and read from the Bible. In the original ending (cut from the print), O'Toole's last scene shows him about to blow his head off with his musket, but that was deemed as too much of a down ending and excised.

The true-life story is supposed to have happened to a Scottish sailor who was abandoned for four years on a small island off the coast of Chile, then rescued. His journal was published in 1712 and served as the inspiration for Defoe's novel. The island was Juan Fernandez, though the people who

live on the island of Tobago claim that it was their land upon which Selkirk, the Scotsman, landed and lived for those four years. MAN FRIDAY is often too glib for its own good, and the script is to wordy, as O'Toole prates on and on. Two men on an island was better seen in HELL IN THE PACIFIC, in

which Toshiro Mifune and Lee Marvin faced off against each other.

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  • Released: 1975
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Yet another variation of Defoe's classic Robinson Crusoe, MAN FRIDAY doesn't compare with the 1954 film, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE, which earned Dan O'Herlihy an Oscar nomination (which he lost to Marlon Brando for ON THE WATERFRONT). O'Toole is Cr… (more)

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