Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1968. APJAC Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Michael Wilson, Rod Serling, based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. Cinematography by Leon Shamroy. Produced by Arthur P. Jacobs. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Production Design by William J. Creber, Jack Martin Smith. Costume Design by Morton Haack. Film Editing by Hugh S. Fowler. Academy Awards 1968.
Charlton Heston plays an astronaut whose spaceship has been in outer space for so long that the modern day Earth life he left behind is long gone for many thousands of years. His spacecraft has a crisis and he crash lands on a strange planet inhabited by talking apes and mute humans, where the apes are the ruling species and the humans used for experimentation and sport. When Heston shows up with the ability to speak, he causes a fury in the ape community that threatens the basis of their science and religious studies. Kim Hunter is terrific as the only sympathetic primate who cares for Heston’s right to life, even though she is outnumbered by bureaucratic ignorance everywhere she turns. Heston is his usual wooden hero self, but the film itself is full of passion and chilling social commentary; the events that take place in this film won’t leave you for days. The makeup design is nowhere near the skill that was put into the recent Tim Burton remake, but it is still extremely impressive for its time, and the innovative score by Jerry Goldsmith is outstanding (it sounds like what Ennio Morricone was going for in A Quiet Place In The Country but never quite made it). The ending to this sci-fi marvel is considered to be one of the most shocking and memorable in all cinema history. Followed by less impressive sequels and a short-lived television series.