No, this isn’t the version with Mark E. Mark.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Charlton Heston as George Taylor

Roddy McDowall as Cornelius

Kim Hunter as Zira

Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius

Linda Harrison as Nova

Robert Gunner as Landon

Jeff Burton as Dodge

Screenplay by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, based on
the Pierre Boulle
novel
.

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
.

Buy just this title from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Buy the entire series from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past movie reviews, including the 2001
remake
, can be found here.

Premise

Something goes wrong aboard a spacecraft, and a few
human astronauts
land on a world where humans are the least evolved
simians.

High Point

What Taylor finds.

Low Point

There are two serious contenders, depending upon what
type of geek you
are. The film geek in me is bothered when I see
someone using the old
Panavision lenses to pan across landscapes, as they
tend to involve a
lot of distortion that breaks the illusion, as
happened here in many
of the opening sequences. The science geek in me
wonders how they
could have concluded the planet had no moon just
because they hadn’t
seen it yet; without a moon, a planet with Earth’s
gravity would have
an unbreathable atmosphere, and there wouldn’t have
been any tides as
we saw and heard about later on. The language geek in
me is trying to
figure out why Taylor didn’t clue in to the fact that
these apes spoke
English.

The Scores

It’s an adaptation, which hurts the
originality a bit, but
it’s a good one. There were some changes, most of
which seem designed
to make things play better visually. (For example, in
the novel,
Taylor convinces his captors that he is intelligent by
carving a proof
of the Pythagorean Theorem into the wall of his cell.
This works even
for readers who don’t know what that proof is, as
they’ll recognise it
as a sign of intelligence. In a typical audience
today, I doubt there
would be more than a handful of people who recognise
it as more than
random geometry.) I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects involving the spacecraft and the
explosion were
done well enough. The makeup, which looks a bit stiff
around the lips
today, was a remarkable achievement in its day. (This
is, in my
opinion, the only area in which the 2001 remake was
superior.) I give
it 4 out of 6.

The story had a few nagging issues listed in
the Low Points,
and did have a tendency to be a little bit preachy at
times. Beyond
that, there’s a lot of symbolism here that is played
out subtlely,
including Taylor’s reversion toward the violence he so
hates when
cornered, and the similarity between the Ancient
Scrolls and our own
religions. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was a difficult chore in this
film. Heston played
Heston, as he generally does. Harrison did well with
her unevolved
character, right down to the awkward and lopsided
smile. The others
had a very difficult time, as they were forced to act
with most of
their faces obscured. Still, the hunched gaits and
other examples of
body language were well done. I give it 4 out of 6,
due to lack of
variety from the lead who had to carry the film.

The emotional response was fairly strong.
Even without the
famous ending, it’s an interesting movie, but the
ending really
clinches it. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production was well done, given the
limitations of the
lenses. Those problems, thankfully, only appear in
the beginning.
Most of this involves great direction of makeup-laden
actors, and a
general move to closer and closer shots as Taylor
starts to feel
increasingly isolated and self-motivated. I give it 5
out of 6.

Overall, it’s a classic, and for good reason.
Worth checking
it. If you don’t know how it ends, go watch it now,
before you read
any comments. This is one that’s too often spoiled in
casual
conversation. If you can, rent or buy it without
talking to a human
clerk, just in case. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, the 1968 Planet of the Apes
receives 33 out of 42.

Next Week

Next week’s review will be of Primer, a small
independent film that deserves far more mainstream
attention than it has received.