Some 35 years after the classic Planet of the Apes evolved into one of the biggest films of the year, and one of the biggest franchises in history, David Hughes unearths 35 things you might not know about the original movie


• The film was adapted from a 1963 novel by Frenchman Pierre Boulle, author of the book which inspired another classic film, The Bridge on the River Kwai

The book may have been inspired by a chapter in Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels in which the hero visits a land ruled by horses, and by George Orwell's Animal Farm , in which the world is ruled by animals

• Although the film's apes lived in a relatively primitive society, the apes in the book were civilised, living in a futuristic society with cars, helicopters and aircraft all super-sized for apes

• For the film, the idea of civilised apes was deemed to expensive, and the decision was made to create a relatively primitive society for the apes

• Actor Charlton Heston, Oscar-winning star of Ben-Hur and El Cid , committed to the film within an hour of hearing the pitch, on 5 June 1965

• The earliest scripts were written by Rod Serling, the creator and writer of many episodes of The Twilight Zone

• Among the other writers who worked on the project were Charles Eastman, Don Peters and Michael Wilson, who had won an Oscar adapting another Pierre Boulle novel, The Bridge on the River Kwai

Planet of the Apes producer Arthur P Jacobs had previously made such Hollywood classics as Goodbye, Mr Chips and the original Doctor Dolitte

• Heston and Jacobs were laughed out of almost every studio in Hollywood before 20th Century Fox embraced the idea of a movie which reversed the roles of humans and apes

• In order to convince the studio that the make-up would not look ridiculous, Heston filmed a make-up test with actors Edward G Robinson ( Double Indemnity ) and James Brolin, the current Mr Barbra Streisand

• When the time came to make the movie, Edward G Robinson decided not to play Dr Zaius because he found the make-up too gruelling; instead, actor Maurice Evans took the part

• On 20th Century Fox's list of possible directors was Blake Edwards, who directed Breakfast at Tiffany's and the best of the Pink Panther movies

• Before Charlton Heston signed to play the hero, John Wayne was among those considered by the producers

• Bond girl Ursula Andress was originally considered for the role of Nova, the beautiful but mute human female ultimately played by Linda Harrison, studio boss Richard Zanuck's girlfriend

Planet of the Apes was filmed almost entirely on location in the Arizona desert, in the middle of summer, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees making the costumes and make-up even more excruciating to wear

• The famous courtroom scene was inspired by a 1920's court case in which a Tennessee schoolteacher was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution, a case which later became the classic film Inherit the Wind

• Actor Roddy McDowall (Cornelius) made a number of Super-8 films during his months on location, some of which can be found among the extras of the latest edition of the DVD


• Actress Kim Hunter (Zira) spent so long in ape make-up that Charlton Heston did not recognise her when, after several months of filming, he saw her out of make-up for the first time

• McDowall and Hunter researched their roles by observing the chimpanzees at Los Angeles Zoo

• The film had the largest make-up budget in Hollywood history, exceeding $1 million – more than one sixth of the entire budget

• Two scenes were almost cut prior to release: Heston's nude scene, and a shot of three apes in the courtroom arranging their hands in a parody of the ‘three wise monkeys' image (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil)

• A scene which revealed that Nova was pregnant with Taylor 's child was allegedly cut because one of the studio executives found the idea of sexual relations between a civilised and a primitive human distasteful

• Released on 8 February 1968 , Planet of the Apes grossed $26 million at the box office – more than four times its production budget of $5.8 million, making it one of the biggest hits of the year

• Breaking box office records in New York , Los Angeles and London , Planet of the Apes was 20th Century Fox's highest-grossing and most profitable film of 1968

• The film was widely acclaimed by critics, with Variety setting the tone on 1 February 1968 with a long review which began with the words ‘ Planet of the Apes is an amazing film”

• As with the same year's other science fiction masterpiece, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey , even the critics who derided the film on first viewing subsequently admitted they had mis-read, underestimated or made errors of judgment in their initial reviews

Planet of the Apes received two Academy Award nominations, for costume design and original music; although it won neither, the film won a special Oscar for John Chambers' make-up

• Four theatrically-released sequels were made between 1970 and 1974: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (once again starring Charlton Heston), Escape from the Planet of the Apes , Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes

• In 1974, a television series based on the series amassed fourteen one-hour episodes, several of which were subsequently turned into TV movies

• In 1975, an animated television series, Return to the Planet of the Apes , ran to thirteen half-hour episodes before being cancelled

• In 2001, Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth and Estella Warren were among the stars of a big-budget “re-imagining” of Planet of the Apes , directed by Tim Burton

• The original Planet of the Apes continues to be referenced in shows ranging from The Simpsons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer , and in films from Mrs Doubtfire to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

An episode of the comedy show Saturday Night Live featured Charlton Heston falling asleep in his dressing room and awaking to find the show being run by apes

Planet of the Apes is also the subject of the most popular joke in Internet history, as veteran astronaut John Glenn's return to space in 1998, provoking the suggestion that everyone should dress in ape costumes when he returned to Earth

• A line from Planet of the Apes – “Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape” – was recently voted the most memorable movie dialogue line of all time


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