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 Posted:   Feb 27, 2015 - 4:42 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Among my favorite APES memories...these Power Records adaptations of the films which had to suffice in between on-TV airings of the films but which were memorable in their own right. In retrospect, I think it was admirable that they didn't soften BENEATH and ESCAPE's downbeat endings. Not many franchises can boast numerous downbeat endings these days.



I also liked the APES series, which were aired as movies during the course of a week when I was about 12 or so:

Treachery and Greed on the Planet of the Apes
Forgotten City of the Planet of the Apes
Life, Liberty, and Pursuit on the Planet of the Apes(!)
Back to the Planet of the Apes
Farewell to the Planet of the Apes

IMdb lists these telefilms as having a 1981 release date. Were they ever in theaters in the US? I don't recall that ever happening, or was it when they debuted in that form on TV?

 
 Posted:   Feb 27, 2015 - 8:50 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

I'm not trying to pigeonhole PLANET OF THE APES into "satire" only, just discussing what motivated the interest of Michael Wilson, Schaffner and Heston. Arthur P. Jacobs envisioned and sold the film as a mass-audience entertainment--a movie for everyone, and that's what it turned out to be. In fact, it's my personal belief that one of the reasons the first PLANET OF THE APES film has stood the test of time is that it's simply great entertainment (if that's all you're after) and if you chose to look at it very close, there's more there than just mere entertainment.

Here is Pauline Kael's review from the February 17th, 1968 "New Yorker." At that time, she was one of the country's toughest film critics and her mostly positive review of PLANET was a surprise to many. I think she nailed what's good about the movie and what's not so good. I don't completely agree with her -- the movie is art on certain levels -- but I don't think in her negative comments she's too far off. PLANET was a lucky production (unlike Jacobs' DOCTOR DOLITTLE), all the planets aligned just right to make it a success. It's not as good as it could have been (and it's my favorite movie, but I still say that), but it was risky material and could have easily been a disaster (for proof of that, I offer the Tim Burton "re-imagining," and to a lesser degree, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES).

"Apes Must Be Remembered, Charlie"

"'Planet of the Apes' is a very entertaining movie, and you'd better go see it quickly, before your friends take the edge off it by telling you all about it. They will, because it has the ingenious kind of plotting people love to talk about. If it were a great picture, it wouldn't need this kind of protection; it's just good enough to be worth the rush.

"Adapted from a novel by Pierre Boulle, 'Planet of the Apes' most closely resembles George Pal's 1960 version of H.G. Wells' 1895 novel 'The Time Machine.' It's also a little like 'Forbidden Planet,' the 1956 science-fiction adaptation of 'The Tempest,' though it's perhaps more cleverly sustained than either of those movies. At times, it has the primitive force of old 'King Kong.' It isn't a difficult or subtle movie; you can just sit back and enjoy it. That should place the genre closely enough, without spoiling the theme or the plot. The writing, by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, though occasionally bright, is often fancy-ironic in the old school of poetic disillusion. Even more often, it is crude. But the construction is really extraordinary. What seem to be weaknesses or holes in the idea turn out to be perfectly consistent, and sequences that work only at a simple level of parody while you're watching them turn out to be really funny when the total structure is revealed. You're too busy for much disbelief anyway; the timing of each action or revelation is right on the button. The audience is rushed along with the hero, who keeps going as fact as possible to avoid being castrated or lobotomized. The picture is an enormous, many-layered black joke on the hero and the audience, and part of the joke is the use of Charlton Heston as the hero. I don't think the movie could have been so forceful or so funny with anyone else. Physically, Heston, with his perfect, lean-hipped, powerful body, is a god-like hero; built for strength, he's an archetype of what makes Americans win. He doesn't play a nice guy; he's harsh and hostile, self-centered and hot-tempered. Yet we don't hate him, because he's so magnetically strong; he represents American power -- the physical attraction and admiration one feels toward the beauty of strength as well as the moral revulsion one feels toward the ugliness of violence. And he has the profile of an eagle. Franklin J. Schaffner, who directed 'Planet of the Apes,' uses the Heston of the preposterous but enjoyable 'The Naked Jungle' -- the man who is so absurdly a movie-star myth. He is the perfect American Adam to work off some American guilt feelings or self-hatred on, and this is part of what makes this new violent fantasy so successful as comedy.

"'Planet of the Apes' is one of the best science-fiction fantasies ever to come out of Hollywood. That doesn't mean it's art. It is not conceived in terms of vision or mystery or beauty. Science-fiction fantasy is a peculiar genre; it doesn't seem to result in much literary art, either. This movie is efficient and craftsmanlike; it's conceived and carried out for maximum popular appeal, though with a cautionary message, and with some attempts to score little points against various forms of establishment thinking. These swifties are not Swift, and the movie's posture of superiority is somewhat embarrassing. Brechtian pedagogy doesn't work in Brecht, and it doesn't work here, either. At best, this is a slick commercial picture, with it's elements carefully engineered -- pretty girl (who unfortunately doesn't seem to have had acting training), comic reliefs, thrills, chases -- but when expensive Hollywood engineering works, as it rarely does anymore, the results can be impressive. Schaffner has thought out the action in terms of the wide screen, and he uses space and distance dramatically. Leon Shamroy's excellent color photography helps to make the vast exteriors (shot in Utah and Arizona) an integral part of the meaning. The editing, though, is somewhat distracting; several times there is a cut and then a view of what we have already seen from a different angle or from much higher up. The effect is both static (we don't seem to be getting anywhere) and overemphatic (we are conscious of being told to look at the same thing another way).

"The makeup (there is said to be a million dollars' worth) and the costuming of the actors playing the apes are rather witty, and the apes have a wonderful nervous, hoping walk. The best little hopper is Kim Hunter, as an ape lady doctor; she somehow manages to give a better performance in this makeup than she has ever given on the screen before."


 
 Posted:   Feb 27, 2015 - 11:55 AM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

BATTLE, which anyway you cut it is a substandard entry in the series, is absurd because it asks us to accept that in two thousand years the apes never change their clothing styles.

The ape's costumes in Battle didn't have the little embossed graphics they had in the later movies!

smile

 
 Posted:   Feb 27, 2015 - 2:01 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

I've come to the conclusion that there's a huge flaw in the original APES series, one that kind of ruins the last three films (ESCAPE, CONQUEST and BATTLE) -- for me at least. If you know anything about the development of the first film, you know that John Chambers based his makeup design on the idea that these were advanced apes, well on their way to a human form.

Have to be honest with you here and say I have NEVER heard this explanation officially and I'm pretty well versed in the original Apes movies and have been for years.

I know there was some fan speculation a few years ago that was along the lines you're suggesting but in all my (pretty extensive) reading about the making of the original Apes movies I have never seen anyone connected with the movies - let alone Chambers himself - supporting your theory.

The suggestion that Chambers' prosthetics were intended to represent "evolved" apes is also inconsistent with the reveal of the apes in the first two movies where there is instant recognition that our astronaut heroes are looking at simians (in particular Beneath where Brent actually says "it's a city of apes"). This then makes the reveal at the start of aEscape to be entirely consistent with Zira, Cornelius and Milo being instantly recognised as chimpanzees.

Can you point me to your source for Chambers saying his make up was designed to be next-generation apes?

 
 Posted:   Feb 27, 2015 - 2:05 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

I've come to the conclusion that there's a huge flaw in the original APES series, one that kind of ruins the last three films (ESCAPE, CONQUEST and BATTLE) -- for me at least. If you know anything about the development of the first film, you know that John Chambers based his makeup design on the idea that these were advanced apes, well on their way to a human form.

Have to be honest with you here and say I have NEVER heard this explanation officially and I'm pretty well versed in the original Apes movies and have been for years.

I know there was some fan speculation a few years ago that was along the lines you're suggesting but in all my (pretty extensive) reading about the making of the original Apes movies I have never seen anyone connected with the movies - let alone Chambers himself - supporting your theory.

The suggestion that Chambers' prosthetics were intended to represent "evolved" apes is also inconsistent with the reveal of the apes in the first two movies where there is instant recognition that our astronaut heroes are looking at simians (in particular Beneath where Brent actually says "it's a city of apes"). This then makes the reveal at the start of aEscape to be entirely consistent with Zira, Cornelius and Milo being instantly recognised as chimpanzees.

Can you point me to your source for Chambers saying his make up was designed to be next-generation apes?


I always assumed they were evolutionarily advanced apes in POTA's and were not supposed to represent modern day animals. Clearly they evolved physically just like homo sapiens.

 
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