In the tradition of Swiss Family Robinson comes this heartwarming family adventure that would go on to spawn two sequels.
Skip Robinson is a construction worker in Los Angeles who has his wife Pat, daughter Jenny, and son Toby. The smog and conditions of the big city have not only taken a toll on Skip, but on Jenny’s health as well. After one fateful day, Skip tells Pat that he’s had enough of the city and hopes she will agree with him as his plan is to get out of the city and move to the wilderness, where they don’t have to deal with their current conditions. Pat decides it would be a great idea and the Robinsons officially leave L.A. for property in the Rocky Mountains that once belonged to his uncle Jake.
They arrive at an abandoned cabin near a lake. They decided to build their own cabin and get used to their new surroundings. Despite running into some trouble with the wildlife, the family’s bonds are what help them get through the adjustment. They even meet Boomer, an elderly man who was Jake’s best friend at one point. The Robinsons learn that a bear they have encountered may be Jake’s old friend. Things start to unravel when Jenny falls ill again and the radio is busted, Skip must head towards to the ranger station, risking his life as he may encounter the wildlife that is in the area.
Inspired by the classic Swiss Family Robinson, this family adventure film is wonderful in the fact that we seen something rarely seen these days: a good ol’ tale of living in the wilderness at a time where we didn’t have cell phones or rely on streaming or TV for entertainment. The story of a family who decide to move out of Los Angeles and start a new life in the Rocky Mountains is both heartwarming and brings the sense of adventure that is the epitome of the classic days of cinema.
Led by former TV actor Robert Logan, this would be one of his most iconic roles in his long career. As Skip Robinson, we see him as a bitter construction worker who once he moves the family into his new surrounding becomes a happier man. What helps is that his counterpart is his wife Pat, played by Susan Damante Shaw, gives that emotional range where she can be extremely happy one minute and the next, all worried about her family.
Hollye Holmes and Ham Larsen round out the family as daughter Jenny and son Toby. Here, it is Jenny who gets more of the impact than Toby, who thrives on his surroundings, something bringing his curiosity to near dangerous levels. This includes a scene where the siblings are followed home by a pair of cougar cubs, which lead to Skip not only returning them but having a dangerous encounter with the mama cougar until the family dog comes to the rescue. George “Buck” Flower rounds out the core cast as Boomer, a friend of Skip’s late uncle who becomes the new family friend and the comic relief of not only this film, but its two sequels released in 1977 and 1979.
The Adventures of the Wilderness Family is both a very heartwarming and adventurous 1970s family film that shows that the power of family can overcome anything…even the wilderness.
WFG RATING: A+
Lionsgate presents a Pacific International Pictures production. Director: Stewart Raffill. Producer: Arthur C. Dubs. Writer: Stewart Raffill; story by Arthur C. Dubs. Cinematography: Gerald Alcan. Editing: R. Hansel Brown.
Cast: Robert Logan, Susan Damante-Shaw, Hollye Holmes, Ham Larsen, George “Buck” Flower.