PLANET OF THE APES

(1968)
With Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Reviewed by JB

Oh, that wacky ape humor!     Based on Pierre Boulle's novel Monkey Planet, PLANET OF THE APES features a witty script by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, superb performances by Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans, and groundbreaking makeup by John Chambers that is still impressive today.

    Strange as it may sound, McDowell, Hunter and Evans all manage to project so much of their own humanity from behind the makeup, they are completely believable as apes. (Compare this casting to the later BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, which starred diminutive singer-songwriter Paul Williams and "Sheriff Lobo" Claude Akins). And long before Marky-Mark Wahlberg, star of the 2000 remake of this film, there was Chuck Heston, who, after establishing himself as the King of Biblical Epics (BEN-HUR, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS), went on to become an icon of futuristic thrillers in the sixties and seventies.  Heston's screen presence brings just the right amount of gravity to the film to allow viewers to buy the whole premise.  Several of Heston's lines have become sci-fi classics, thanks to Heston's delivery.  Who could forget  "It's a madhouse!  A maaaaadhoooussse!!" or "Get yer stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"?  And let us not overlook the lovely Linda Harrison as the mute human Nova.  Harrison was the favorite pinup gal of sci-fi geeks everywhere, several years before Princess Leah in a gold bikini came along.

      PLANET OF THE APES ends with one of the most iconic movie images of all time, on a par with King Kong on the Empire State Building or Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock.  If you haven't seen the film, I won't spoil the ending for you, but beware - the most recent DVD cover stupidly features this image prominently on its cover, proving the film's premise - humans are really dumb.  Followed by four sequels that followed the law of diminishing returns with uncanny mathematical accuracy. 5 - JB

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IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR GOOD MOVIE QUOTES

"He was a font of simian kindness.  The dear departed once said to me, 'I never met an ape I didn't like.'"