“Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”
One of the most iconic lines in science fiction history, uttered by one of Hollywood’s biggest stars…time for some “Apes” talk!
With “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” in theaters, time to look back at the original film – a classic science fiction film that has one of the most shocking endings in motion picture history!
“And Unusual And Important Motion Picture!”
First of all, I LOVE THIS MOVIE POSTER. I mean, talk about trying to get a LOT of words on a single one sheet! But it speaks to what an “unusual” and unique film “Planet Of The Apes” was when it was released!
“Planet Of The Apes” is widely considered to be one of the seminal films in science fiction history – and now that the franchise has been resurrected so well, let’s look at the classic beginning…starting with the film’s trailer:
You probably already know the plot: three Astronauts crash land on a desolate planet, where they forage for food and shelter until they discover they are not alone…
The Astronauts are shocked to find they’ve landed on a world that is run by Apes! This sequence is just the first of many shocking reveals in the movie, expertly directed by Franklin J. Shaffner! The “roundup” of humans is a brutal, brilliant set piece in the film, as the Astronauts realize they have landed in hell…
The filmed roundup, slaughter and “photo ops” in the film evoked the atrocities of Vietnam at the time – in fact, throughout the movie there are pointed references to the current political climate in the country at the time…
After capture, the Astronauts are put in chains – until the “Scientist” Apes realize that there is something “different” about these human specimens…
“Planet Of The Apes” Trivia!
There is a ton of great trivia about this film, which was shot in the desert over one of the hottest summers ever…there was barely any time for an Ape to rest!
I love that shot – the makeup was a long and arduous process, and it couldn’t be taken off! That’s more than the movie’s star could say…
A Shirtless Charleton Heston!
Yep, this iconic movie star was happy to go topless for most of the film…more about that in a moment, thanks to the great website IMDB.com and these fascinating “Ape” facts!
It was a tough shoot in the Arizona desert. Not just for the actors in the ape make-up but also for Charlton Heston who spends most of the film half-naked, being brutalized by the elements and the simians. As Heston noted in his autobiography:
“Even rubber rocks hurt!”
Here’s some fascinating trivia: during breaks in filming, actors made up as different ape species tended to hang out together, gorillas with gorillas, orangutans with orangutans, chimps with chimps. It wasn’t required, it just naturally happened!
Actor Roddy McDowall recommended to his co-stars in makeup that they should frequently add tics, blinks and assorted facial gestures to add a sense of realism and keep the makeup from appearing “mask-like”. McDowall reportedly became a “merry prankster” with the makeup, driving home with his make-up on, shocking other drivers on the freeway!
All the Ape actors and extras were required to wear their masks even during breaks and in between shots because it took so much time to make them up. Because of this, meals were liquefied and drunk through straws.
Charlton Heston was sick during much of the film with the flu. Rather than wait for him to get better, the producers felt that his hoarse voice added something to the character of Taylor, and they kept filming…
According to Heston’s diary, after filming the scene where Taylor and Nova are forcibly separated, he wrote that he was feeling like hell while shooting because of his illness, and felt even worse “every time that damn fire hose hit me”.
The Brilliant, Shocking Ending!
The first time you see this film, you are stunned by the shocking ending…I won’t reveal it here, but it is a brilliant finale to one of the greatest science fiction films ever made…
Promoting On The Tube!
As the film became a cultural sensation, savvy movie marketer’s took advantage – here is a photo showing “Apes” riding a London subway to promote the film’s opening in England!
Simian Beauty Contest!
Of course, there were multiple sequels, each a bit more outrageous – culminating in this “beauty contest” hosted by LA radio personality and “Laugh-In” Announcer Gary Owens to celebrate “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes!”
Even as the movie series sputtered out in the mid-70’s, Charlton Heston went on to do a number of other classic science fiction films, such as his “last man on earth” epic “The Omega Man.”
You can read more about this classic film by clicking on my story here:
And of course, there was even more Charlton Heston sic-fi in the 70’s…
“Soylent Green Is People!”
And of course Heston was in one of the great 70’s sic-fi films “Soylent Green” as well!
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