One of New York City’s largest theatres, the Ziegfeld, is showing the original Planet of the Apes (1968) beginning this Friday March 28 for 5 straight days. Click here for more info.
As everybody must now know it is the story about four astronauts, after hurdling through space for over 2,000 years, who land on a planet where humans are mute and unintelligent and apes are their masters. Of the space travelers, only Charlton Heston as Taylor survives but he is shot in the throat by a band of gorillas who are the hunting humans. Taylor is taken to Ape City along with a woman he dubs Nova (Linda Harrison) where he tries to convince a sympathetic psychologist Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) and her archeologist financee Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) of his intelligence. When he regains his speech he proves his superiority but is thwarted by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) who has always been aware of man’s reputation as “the harbinger of death.” The film climaxes in the Forbidden Zone with Taylor proving that the apes evolved from humans. He goes off with Nova only to discover the horrible truth—the planet of the apes is actually Earth whose civilization was destroyed by man.
I interviewed the lovely Linda Harrison for my first book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema and below are some of her memories about working on the movie:
“Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, and Maurice Evans were great people and fabulous troupers. I’m not just saying that but they were pros. They had a difficult time with all that make-up. And they had to report to the set at 3:00AM! As for Charlton Heston, he was an idol of mine since I was a teenager and saw him in Ben-Hur. I thought, ‘My God, he is the most wonderful man in the world!’ And then a few years later to be co-starring with him was delightful, to say the least. It wasn’t in my nature to fawn over celebrities but I told Charlton that he was my idol. He was so nice and responded, ‘Thank you very much.’ He had a quiet quality about him and was very courteous with me. He encouraged me to favor the camera. I was a newcomer in many ways—which may have helped my character. I’m sure Heston had his doubts about me, however, he never showed them. He treated me more like a child than an adult and not much was discussed between us, in character or off. When you idolize someone like I did, you tend to submit rather than assert yourself. Again this worked in our roles and the relationship between us, as Taylor and Nova.”