Planet of the Apes Franchise
The Planet of the Apes is a movie franchise that grew out of the original, 1968 film adaptation of Pierre Boulle's 1963 sci-fi, dystopian fantasy novel, La Planète des singes (Monkey Planet).
The story of the original film, The Planet of the Apes (1968), revolves around three astronauts who crash land on a strange, but surprisingly Earth-like, planet.
The stranded astronauts find that they have landed in a dystopian world where apes are dominant and humans are poked, prodded and brutally enslaved.
The movie franchise has thus far spawned 7 '60s & 70's films:
- Planet of the Apes (1968)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
- Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
1 remake of the original film:
- Planet of the Apes (2001)
1 prequel which is set to be released in August 2011:
1 live action television series:
- Planet of the Apes (1974)
1 animated television series:
- Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975-1976)
If you are a fan of science fiction, science fantasy, and/or dystopian sci-fi... the Planet of the Apes franchise should be right up your alley.
Read Pierre Boulle's Fascinating Novel
If you liked the original Planet of the Apes (1968) film, you will
absolutely love Monkey Planet. I read this book when I was 12 years old,
and I have re-read it at least three times since then.
Monkey Planet is a story within a story about an old couple on vacation, Jinn and Phylis. They are on a peaceful cruise (space cruise), and they happen to find a message in a bottle. The message in the bottle tells the story of humankind....
The couple themselves is a plot twist and the story of humankind is not to be missed....pick up a copy of Monkey Planet to read the entire story.
Rise of The Planet of The Apes is Coming!
In summer 2011, a Planet of the Apes prequel will be released - the title is Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and I will be standing in line at midnight on opening day - Will you be there as well?
The story is set in present day San Francisco, where humankind's tampering with genetic engineering inadvertently leads to the development of intelligence in apes. Caesar is an ape who grows up amongst humans - in a testing facility, of course...
When Caesar is exposed to a new drug, he begins to exhibit human level intelligence. He starts to see the potential and beauty of the world... then he begins to realize the dark side of ape existence.
Caesar begins to rage against the machine, and the result is the beginning of the end of the dominance of human civilization, and the beginning of the rise of the apes...This is dystopian science fiction at its best!
The franchise is legendary for its use of makeup to turn real actors into apes...however, the human characters made an impact as well.
"Colonel Taylor" - Charlton Heston
Taylor is an astronaut who crash lands on a mysterious planet. Initially, there are three other astronauts as well, Landon, Stewart, and Dodge - Stewart is the only female, but she does not survive the crash. Taylor is the captain, and he and the other three astronauts decide to go out and discover the strange planet.
During their discovery, Taylor and the other three happen upon a lush, green forest inhabited by primitive looking humans. As he attempts to make contact with the humans, they suddenly begin to scatter in fear.
Not knowing what to else do, Taylor and his crew scatters with them. To his horror, he sees that they are being chased by intelligent gorillas on horseback, with guns and nets. The gorillas are capable of speech, and they hunt the humans for sport.
Eventually, Taylor is captured by the apes. His two astronaut friends are lost to him, and he is chained up and thrown in a cage with other humans, while intelligent apes poke and prod him. What happens next is one of the greatest science fiction stories ever told...
Before the filming of the the original Planet of the Apes (1968), Charlton Heston was already a bona fide Hollywood super star.
Heston had been a film actor since the early 1940s, and he is well known mainly for playing the title roles in biblical epics such as Ben Hur (1959), and The Ten Commandments (1956).
Charlton Heston died in 2008, he was 84 years old.
"Landon" - Robert Gunner
One of the three surviving members of the crash landing - IMHO, his fate is the worst of all...
Before the film, Robert Gunner had a few (4 or 5) television appearances, The Planet of the Apes was his last film. He died in 1982, not much else is known about this actor.
"Dodge" - Jeff Burton
One of the surviving members of the crash landing - As the only black man in the film, his fate is highly predictable.
Jeff Burton's career had a little more color than that of Robert Gunner. Burton had many roles before The Planet of the Apes, and many afterwards.
I can remember him clearly from The Night Gallery, and from Bewitched. IMDB credits him with appearances in The Partridge Family, Nanny and the Professor, and the 1973 blaxploitation film, Coffy among many others.
Jeff Burton's last role was in a film called Street Sisters (1974), a horrid blaxploitation wannabe film about the life of a hard-working prostitute mom - he played the grandfather in the film. (what a way to go out...) Jeff Burton died in 1988.
"Stewart" - Diane Messina Stanley
Stewart was the only female astronaut, and non-surviving member of the crash landing - she didn't survive the hibernation period, and only Landon seemed to be even slightly bothered by her death.
As an actress, Diane Stanley only had 3 roles to her credit. However, her Hollywood career proved much more successful than those of her two other astronaut co-stars (excluding Charlton Heston, of course).
Diane Messina Stanley, as she later came to be known, was the producer and writer for many highly recognized television shows including: Knot's Landing, The Young and the Restless, The Facts of Life, and more recently, Strong Medicine.
Diane Stanley is still active in Hollywood today, as her last project was consulting producer of the popular TV show, Army Wives.
What's Your Favorite Planet of the Apes Line?
Ape Cast & Characters
The makeup of the Planet of the Apes franchise was groundbreaking in its day. The actors endured hours of time sitting in makeup chairs, and they were subjected to stifling days under the hot California & Arizona Sun in full ape costuming & heavy makeup .
"Cornelius" - Roddy McDowell
Cornelius is a scientist who, along with his wife Dr. Zira, help Taylor to escape from the clutches of the unjust ruling orangutans and beastly gorillas charged with police and military powers.
Cornelius is really a hen-pecked husband who chooses to go along with his wife's passion for humans, and dangerous desire to seek the truth. He is more like the Dana Scully to Zira's Fox Muldar, than a true believer. Just as with Scully and Muldar, as time passes, he becomes compassionate to the cause and he realizes that The Truth Is Out There.
Roddy McDowall, well...who in the world doesn't know Roddy McDowall? I guess these days, not many people, huh? McDowall was a true TV Star who was in everything over his 6 decade plus years in Hollywood. He started out as a child actor and he ended up with more than 250 TV and film projects to his credit.
Roddy McDowall was one of my favorite actors, and I remember him well for his roles in other science fiction and psychological thriller-ish roles like The Twilight Zone, The Night Gallery (Rod Serling's other series), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Martian Chronicles, and The Invaders (those all cry out for fan page lenses as well, don't they? hmmmmm....)
McDowall starred in other projects as well, like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Tales of the Golden Monkey, etc. However, sci-fi fans remember him fondly in those type of roles.
Later in life, he went on to do tons of voice acting for animated series, and big budget films like A Bug's Life (1998), but he went out as big a flame as he came in...he was still working steadily when he succumbed to a lung cancer in 1998.
RIP Roddy McDowall. Thanks for the memories...
"Dr. Zira" - Kim Hunter
Dr. Zira is smart enough to know that all that is taught in the form of a "holy book" is not necessarily true, she is a scientist, a bleeding heart liberal who cares about ethical treatment of all intelligent beings, a compassionate female, a gutsy broad....and an ape! A Chimpanzee to be exact.
She is married to Cornelius, and she takes matters into her own hands when it seems that all of the other apes in her world are corrupt, evil, or too scared to do the right thing.
In a weird, time warp, time travel, kind of whacked out way...her progeny is responsible for the rise of the apes and their dominance and eventual subjugation of humankind.
Kim Hunter was a remarkable actress who had nearly 150 television and film roles to her credit. The Planet of the Apes is probably the film she is most remembered for by modern audiences, but her performances in the classic film, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951 Oscar Winning Performance) and the masterfully thrilling film noir sleeper, The Seventh Victim, definitely seals her inclusion in the list of classic Hollywood's most talented actresses.
She was blacklisted when director Elia Kazan (he is one of my favorites, I was slightly miffed to learn that he was a snitch) ratted her out to the House Un American Committee for suspected communism (America's other Historic Witch Hunt). However, this action did not slow her down a bit... she kept going strong throughout the decades, right up until her death in 2001.
"Dr. Zaius" - Maurice Evans
Dr. Zaius is the chief antagonist in the film (the big meanie in the movie). He is responsible for maintaining validity of ape history, and the advancement of their society (which he does by discouraging technological advancement), he despises human beings because he believes that we allowed technology to destroy our world, and he particularly despises the astronauts because it is suspected that he knows the truth.
Dr. Zaius is especially bothered by Dr. Zira, and all those who would doubt established ape history, and try to bring science and compassion into the discussion of ape and human existence. He declares Zira and Cornelius' actions (helping Taylor & vigorous efforts to learn the truth) as being heretic and he condemns them as treasonous outlaws to be punished for their crimes.
Dr. Zaius lets on to Taylor that he is well aware of the truth, and he intends to keep his people in the dark to preserve their tainted belief system
Maurice Evans was a legendary actor of stage and screen. He had more than 60 roles to his credit, but I remember him most from Rosemary's Baby as the nice doctor who died attempting to help that dingy Rosemary (Excellent Film, but she was unforgivably dumb!), and I remember him well for being Samantha's theatrically winded father on Bewitched.
One odd tie-in with his Bewitched character to his Planet of the Apes Character: Both characters were bigots with an immense hatred toward humans. Remember, Maurice (character's name on Bewitched) hated Daren because he was a human, and Dr. Zaius despised all humans because they were human. hmmmm.......
Maurice Evans passed away on Mach 12, 1989.
The Kiss That Shook The World
Favorite Planet of the Apes Sequel Film Poll
The four sequels following the original Planet of the Apes were not nearly as good as the first film, but they were a must-see, and a must-have for die-hard apes fans like myself (I have a copy of each).
Beneath The Planet of the Apes
This is by far the worst of the sequels - Even I had trouble liking this film. Another ship lands in search of Taylor and the crew, another dude gets a shot at Nova and misses it, we find that Zira and Cornelius have not been put to death for their crimes against Ape nature...in fact, they are so carelessly unguarded,til they help the second astronaut escape as well...But, the mother of all horrible movie cheeziness...was the mutant, underground, bomb worshiping human beings in the Forbidden Zone. Wow, that was just....Wow.
Escape From The Planet of the Apes
This one is my favorite! I know, it's corny...but whateva! The apes Zira & Cornelius manage to repair Taylor's ship (I know, I know, I know...) and time warp back their way to present day Earth (1974 was then present day). They are discovered and soon become well loved by people all over the world (of course, it is the apes land in the United States).
Cornelius and warns Zira to hide the fact that they come from a world where apes are dominant. An astute scientist (Eric Braden...Victor Newman from the Young and The Restless y'all) is suspect of their history anyway. His plan is to destroy the intelligent apes for the good of mankind - of course, he's right, (just as Dr. Zaius was) but....we really like Zira & Cornelius....
*the picture above is a still from Escape from the Planet of the Apes - Zira is shown in Human Clothing
Conquest of The Planet of the Apes
In the not too distant future, all cats and dogs are killed in a global pandemic, so...chimpanzees are used in their place. As you might expect, they are more advanced than cats and dogs (because...chimps are...) and they are used almost like slaves by humans - more like servants than slaves. One particular slave/chimp decides that he doesn't want to take it anymore, and human history is changed with the snap of a finger - and with the help of some humans with bleeding hearts - you know how there are some people who love animals more so than humans (will we ever learn?).
Battle for The Planet of the Apes
I cannot give away too much of the details of this film without ruining the ending of the last film...but...This is the story of the ape who led a revolution - suffice it to say that some of the apes and humans toy with the idea of living together in harmony....(yawn).
The Planet of the Apes - Live Action TV Series
The live action television series was pure heaven! It was weekly exposure to one of my favorite movies. The series followed the same premise as the film, except this time, there are two surviving astronauts.
series stared Ron Harper and James Naughton, but best of all... Roddy
McDowall is in the series as well. MdDowall stars as a chimpanzee named
Galen who discovers the truth about ape history. A Dr. Zaius-like
orangutan gets wind of the discovery and condemns the chimp, and the
astronauts to death.
Galen and the two astronauts escape and go on the run, and the TV series is all about their adventures. Just like the animated TV series, there were only 13 (or 14) episodes of the live action TV series produced.
Return to the Planet of the Apes - Animated TV Series
The short lived animated series followed the story of Monkey Planet
(Pierre Boulle) more closely than the film. If the "feel" of this series
seems vaguely familiar (as it did to me) it is because the animator was
also responsible for the Johnny Quest series (so says IMDB).
Check out the Return to the Planet of the Apes intro video beneath this passage - I wasn't exactly crazy about this series, but viewing the video actually brought back some good memories for me.
Police on August 24, 2014:
Poor ranking of the franchise!! The first 2 were both outstanding!! The rest were horrible!! Beneath should have been the last apes movie!!
Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on May 04, 2011:
Great hub on the Planet of the Apes. I love the first one and the most recent remake.