Planet of the Apes (1968)

"Extraordinary"

Planet of the Apes (1968) Review


The monkey movie that started it all and the only memorable picture to come out of the laughable and sometimes unbearable saga of talking ape movies, Planet of the Apes still beats with a steady heart 30 years after its conception.

This memorable adaptation of the novel Monkey Planet, authored by Pierre Boulle (the same guy who wrote The Bridge on the River Kwai), was brought to life by the infamous producer Arthur Jacobs, who eventually oversaw the production duties for the entire Apes saga. No studio except Fox would touch the project with a ten-foot pole, despite the participation of Rod Serling, who co-authored the screenplay adaptation of Boulle's novel (and which led to 30 drafts), Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, and Kim Hunter (Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire), and the amazing ape makeup by first-timer John Chambers.

Heston plays George Taylor, who along with three fellow space travelers, is exploring the far reaches of the universe via a time-traveling space shuttle. Taylor and his crew end up crash-landing on a desolate planet and then set out across the desert plains to find someone or something on this strange New World. Heston and his crew eventually find a watering hole, jump in for a quick skinny dip, and encounter a race of mute humans foraging for food in a local cornfield. Suddenly, apes appear on horseback with rifles slung across their shoulders, and Heston's crew is captured during an ugly roundup of the mute humans.

During Heston's capture and torture, a sympathetic chimp named Kira (Kim Hunter) takes an interest in Taylor and nurses him back to health since Taylor took a shot in the throat and can't speak. When Taylor escapes from his cage, he is chased through the ape plaza and utters those famous words that shock the ape community. Kira and her husband Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), an anthropologist with his own theories about ape evolution, take up the defense of Taylor against an orangutan tribunal led by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) intent on either castrating or lobotomizing this "talking human." After judgment is passed (no dice, Chuck), Kira and Cornelius help Taylor and his new girlfried Nova (Linda Harrison -- the studio head's girlfriend who doesn't utter one word of dialogue in the entire film) escape from the clutches of the ape community. Together, the rag-tap group of apes and humans venture into the Forbidden Zone to discover Taylor's true destiny on this planet of talking monkeys.

Planet of the Apes has stood the test of time because of one key element: its script. Rod Serling and Michael Wilson, working on the script separately, managed to construct one of the most diverse and entertaining pieces of cinema to emerge from the 1960s. The combination of Serling's deft storytelling abilities shown so strongly in his work on The Twilight Zone with the real-life political experiences of Michael Wilson -- who was blacklisted by the Un-American Activities Committee in the 50s -- gave this first Apes movie everything a successful film needs: intelligent and meaningful dialogue, rousing action sequences, evolving character development, and a whopper of an ending.

In the end, the script would have fallen on its face without the acting abilities of Heston, McDowall, Evans, and Hunter to give the film its memorable movie characters that have left indelible impressions upon the viewing audience.

Our full Apes coverage:

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)Planet of the Apes (2001 remake)

The only real love... is monkey love.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner

Producer: Arthur P. Jacobs

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.