"Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" An outstanding science-fiction film that spawned four sequels, an animated cartoon series, a live-action TV series, bubble-gum cards, Halloween masks, and a rash of plastic models. Massive marketing notwithstanding, the original film is
still quite an achievement. Heston plays the commander of a lengthy outer-space mission that is interrupted when the spaceship crashes on an unknown planet. He and two other survivors make their way through an arid wasteland into a lush forest where they observe what appears to be a tribe of Stone
Age humans. A bizarre horn cries, and the sounds of hoofbeats and gunfire are heard, sending the savages running into the woods. The confused astronauts are shocked to see that the armed horsemen are actually gorillas wearing leather uniforms. Welcome to the planet of the apes, where they wear the
clothes and do the talking, and we have reverted to our (natural?) savage state.
PLANET OF THE APES is a success on many levels, with a witty, intelligent script by Rod Serling and a suitably hot-tempered, athletic performance from Charlton Heston. Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter are highly effective as a sympathetic ape scientist and doctor, respectively, with John Chambers's
superb latex makeup allowing them a full range of expressive facial gestures. (Chambers won a special Oscar for his work.) None of the sequels (BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES, CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES) lived up to the
original and, partly in reaction to all the marketing push, the "Apes" series eventually spiraled into self-parody. leave a comment