Planet Of The Apes (1968)
“I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man. Has to be.” –
In 1966 Franklin J. Schaffner had purchased the rights to what he thought would make excellent movie. Pierre
Boulle’s novel “La Planete des singes.” He peddled the idea to almost every studio in Hollywood, but nobody
wanted anything to do with his “Monkey Planet.” Studio executives thought the idea of talking apes would be
laughed at. A ray of light came when he presented his idea to both Arthur P. Jacobs and Charlton Heston. Both
signed on to produce and star in his movie. Now he had what he needed a huge star and some credibility. This
got him in the door with Fox and got him his chance. Once again there were hesitations. What if the apes looked
too fake? Could it be believable? A test scene was shot to test early ideas for the ape makeup. The test would
feature Heston, Edward G. Robinson as Dr. Zaius, and Linda Harrison as Zira. It worked. The makeup test
proved it could be done without looking cheesy. The movie was a go.
The next major hurdle would lie in the story itself. The Boulle novel featured the apes as a highly advanced
civilization with modern vehicles and cities. The early Rod Serling scripts followed these themes. However the
budget that Fox had assigned was not sufficient enough to handle both huge effects and a huge makeup tab.
The makeup was crucial to the success of the production. The apes had to be more primitive. Michael Wilson
was brought on board and together with Serling the two hammered out the finished screenplay with the apes
having a more technologically challenged society. With this and John Chambers makeup ready the production
began. The film with all it’s technological difficulties was completed on time and on budget.
The film would center around George Taylor (Heston) an astronaut who had given up on mankind and traveled
the stars to find out just what else the universe had to offer. He and his crew of three, one woman and two other
men, traveled to the deepest reaches of space in suspended animation. Something would go terribly wrong with
their spacecraft and it would crash-land off course on some unknown world. The three men would survive. The
woman died in her sleep a year or so prior to the crash. The three survivors would march across a hostile desert
before reaching a plush oasis with food and running water. A relaxing dip in the pond would lead to the group
loosing their clothes and their first meeting with a group of primitive humans. Was this the best this planet had to
A moments peace would be short lived. The humans would seem to be the hunted on this new world. As scared
tribesmen would run in every direction the astronauts would get their first look at the dominant species. Apes! A
desperate chase would ensue. One astronaut would be killed. Another netted. Taylor would end up shot in the
throat and knocked out.
He would awaken days later in a cage in some sort of animal hospital. He would be under the care of a kind
chimpanzee doctor named Zira (Kim Hunter). Zira had a kind heart toward the humans she worked with. She
believed humans could be civilized. A notion laughed at by her fellow doctors. She saw something in Taylor.
Taylor would try to communicate with Zira, but his throat injury would prevent him from speaking. This would have
gotten him attention because no other humans could speak. Taylor would be presented with a young woman,
Nova (Linda Harrison), for a mate. He would connect with her although she was a primitive. Zira would end up
naming Taylor “Bright Eyes” because of his advanced skills and blue eyes. She would show him off to both her
fiance Cornelius and her supervisor Dr. Zaius. Both would scoff at her notion that he was different than other
humans. Yet Dr. Zaius would recognize the dangers in a advanced human. He would soon plot Taylor’s demise.
Soon Taylor would steal Zira’s notepad and write his name. She then understood that he could communicate and
that he would be in danger.
Taylor would manage to escape. He would be chased throughout the Ape city and eventually be captured. That
is when he would seal his fate a utter his first words. “Get your paws off me, you damned dirty ape!” A human
had spoken. The apes were terrified. Taylor would be tried as a heretic. His fate would be experimental brain
surgery to find out what makes him tick. Dr. Zaius would see to it personally. He knew more than he would let on.
Zira and Cornelius would free both Taylor and Nova. Their only hope would be to reach Cornelius’s dig deep in
what the apes call “The Forbidden Zone”. A vast area of land that nothing lived in. The desert Taylor and his
group had traveled across days earlier. Once there Cornelius would show Taylor the artifacts he had found
proving an advanced civilization that preexisted before the apes. Zaius and his gorilla army would soon find
them. Taylor would manage to take Zaius hostage. At gunpoint he would reveal the truth. Man was indeed there
first and that he had destroyed his society. Taylor would agree to let Zaius free for his safe passage into the
forbidden zone. Zaius would agree. Both out of fear of man and with the hope that he would die in the desert. He
would bid farewell to his new ape friends and venture forth with Nova. Zaius would destroy all the evidence of the
This would lead to one of the greatest scenes in movie history. The half buried Statue of Liberty on the beach to
end the film. Taylor would then recite one of the most memorable lines in cinema history once he realized that he
was on Earth and that mankind had destroyed itself in some nuclear nightmare.
“YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!!”
“Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or
greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he
will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, for he is the harbinger of death.” – The Sacred Scrolls
1. During lunch periods and breaks in shooting the actors portraying a certain species would all hang out
together. Gorillas with gorillas, chimps with chimps, and orangutans with orangutans. Funny how that would
naturally happen since class and race diversion was a underlined theme in the film.
2. Although Charlton Heston’s character is listed in the credits as “George Taylor”, the name George is never
mentioned in the actual film. He is always called just “Taylor.”
3. Roddy McDowall often drove home in his ape make up to freak-out other drivers.
4. John Chambers’s ape make up was first used as an ape-faced alien in the popular science fiction TV show
“Lost in Space.”
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner
Written By: Michael Wilson and Rod Serling
From the Novel: “La Planete des singes” by Pierre Boulle
Charlton Heston as George Taylor
Roddy McDowall as Cornelius
Kim Hunter as Zira
Maurice Evans as Dr.Zaius
James Whitmore as President of the Assembly
James Daly as Dr. Honorious
Linda Harrison as Nova
Robert Gunner as Landon
Lou Wagner as Lucious
Woodrow Parfey as Dr. Maximus
Jeff Burton as Dodge
Buck Kartalian as Julius
Norman Burton as Leader of the hunt
Wright King as Dr. Galen
Paul Lambert as Minister
Diane Stanley as Stewart
AKA: Monkey Planet (1968)
Runtime: 112 Minutes
Sound: 4-Track Stereo
Released: February 8, 1968