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A random thought about Dick Van Dyke

Posted at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2009 by Euan Kerr

There has been a lot of talk on our station today about children's books, and for some reason it's created the book equivalent of an earworm for me.

Years ago I was in a Woolworth's store in Edinburgh when I came across a paperback copy of "Robinson Crusoe USN" in the remainder bin. It was one of those really cheap paperbacks with the painted edges.

What attracted me was the picture on the cover of Dick Van Dyke with his trademark look of goofy surprise on his face, (This isn't it, but it's close.) I had seen "Mary Poppins" and even the wretched excesses of the Van Dyke fake cockney accent in that film weren't able to immediately feeling this book could be fun.

The book was the novelization of the 1966 Disney movie of the same name.

I've never seen the film, and from the reviews I have read I haven't missed much, but I have to say I laughed and laughed when I read the book. It's the story of a US Navy Pilot who is marooned on what he thinks is a desert island, and finds he's not quite as smart as he thinks he is, particularly after he befriends a chimp. These things amuse 8 year olds.

The thing I realize now though, is such was the power of the Van Dyke grin, that I feel as if I have seen the film.

As I say, it's just a thought. And I can't get Dick Van Dyke's grin out of my head.

Here is a clip from the classic French adaptation of Robinson Crusoe which played many time on the BBC when I was young. It traumatized us all!

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