Updated: February 22, 2014
PLANET OF THE APES COLLECTIBLES #02
The original Planet of the Apes (1968) was a modern classic, mixing
science-fiction concepts with a powerful allegory to create an epic
that touched a generation. Beyond that — and it's important to
remember this was in the days before Star Wars — it gave birth to
four theatrical sequels (1970's Beneath the Planet of the Apes,
1971's Escape from the Planet of the Apes, 1972's Conquest of the
Planet of the Apes and 1973's Battle for the Planet of the Apes),
two television series and original Marvel Comics continuations of
At the time that Planet of the Apes was released, science-fiction
was a four-letter word no studio executive in his right mind
willingly embraced. When producer Arthur P. Jacobs first became
captivated by Pierre Boulle's original novel in 1963, there was no
Star Trek, no 2001: A Space Odyssey and no Star Wars. With the
exception of Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still,
there had barely been any intelligent science-fiction films that
attempted to deal with issues affecting humanity. Creatively, the
Hollywood community thought science-fiction was a dead-end fit only
for teenagers and drive-ins.
But Jacobs believed, and that belief turned Hollywood and its
limited vision on its ear. Planet of the Apes was deemed an instant
classic. It proved that audiences wanted to be challenged, that they
were willing to journey to an upside-down civilization — provided
they were given characters to identify with and a story that could
somehow provide a reflection and an illumination of their own lives.
Planet of the Apes serves as a motion-picture classic that has more
than withstood the passage of time. It has touched the imagination
of two generations and will move on to a third in the years to come.
Apes rule, indeed!
This classic adaptation of Pierre Boulle's allegorical novel stars
Charlton Heston as an astronaut stranded on a planet where
intelligent simians rule, and humans are the animals. Franklin J.
Schaffner (Patton) directed this acclaimed blockbuster written by
Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) and Michael Wilson (blacklisted
Oscar-winner for The Bridge on the River Kwai). Roddy McDowall
(Fright Night), Kim Hunter (the Academy Award-winning Stella of A
Streetcar Named Desire) and Shakespearean great Maurice Evans also
star, working under groundbreaking makeup effects that defied
categories to win a special Oscar. If you're wondering about the
stunning Linda Harrison, who played Nova, she went on to marry 20th
Century Fox head Richard D. Zanuck.
The leader of a rescue mission sent to recover the first film's
missing astronauts becomes entangled with a subterranean race of
mutated, telepathic humans on the verge of all-out war with the
simian species. Original stars Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans return,
with Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison in cameos, opposite human
lead James Franciscus (Marooned). Also appearing are the
character-actor greats Victor Buono (What Ever Happened to Baby
Jane?), Gregory Sierra (John Carpenter's Vampires, TV's Sanford and
Son) and James Gregory (TV's The Wild Wild West and Barney Miller),
who, as the gorilla general Ursus, memorably declares, "The only
good human is a dead human!"
Cornelius and Zira (the returning Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter)
manage to escape their decimated planet and travel back through time
to 20th-century Los Angeles. Initially treated as honored guests,
they find themselves increasingly persecuted by the human race — and
ultimately forced to flee from an insidious plot against them.
Starring as sympathetic human scientists are cult-favorites Bradford
Dillman (The Mephisto Waltz, Piranha) and Natalie Trundy (in the
most prominent of the three different roles she would play in the
four sequels). Sal Mineo (Rebel Without a Cause), M. Emmet Walsh
(Blade Runner, Blood Simple) and veteran actor William Windom (the
Night Gallery classic "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar")
provide able support.
Caesar (Roddy McDowall), the grown son of Cornelius and Zira, finds
himself trapped in a world where domesticated apes are treated as
pets and as servants by human rulers. Faced with a life of
subservience, he abandons his more peaceful inclinations and sets
out to ignite an ape uprising — and a violent revolution against
humankind. Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan) also
stars. Look quick for Gordon Jump (TV's WKRP in Cincinnati) as an
auctioneer. Directed by J. Lee Thompson (the classic 1962 Cape Fear).
Following the ape revolt of Conquest, Caesar (Roddy McDowall) takes
on the role of peacekeeper between the humans and the apes — but
finds himself forced into a battle of wits with a militarist gorilla
(the prolific Claude Akins, immortalized in the Twilight Zone
classic "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"). Meanwhile, human
survivors try to seize control of the planet, setting the stage for
a potentially apocalyptic battle. Watch for cameos by Lew Ayres (the
1970s Battlestar Galactica) as Mandemus and legendary filmmaker and
actor John Huston as The Lawgiver. And, yes, that's future director
John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) playing "Jake's Friend."