Friday, March 7, 2014

Doll-A-Day 66: Oscar Week:Planet of the Apes Zira, Cornelius, and Dr. Zaius, by Sideshow

  Today we conclude Oscar Week with three dolls.These dolls were made by Sideshow around 2004.

  If you're a reader of this blog you'll know that Planet of the Apes is one of my obsessions.It has been since I was a kid.

They're supposed to have so many points of articulation, but they are still kind of hard to pose sometimes.

  These Sideshow dolls, (The male Apes collectors would probably prefer I call them 'figures'!) are some of the best that have been made. (The best are the Hot Toys dolls, but those are so far out of my budget that I'm about as likely to get one as Taylor was of getting back to his own time.) They are miles above the Hasbro dolls that came out around the 30th anniversary in 1998.The reason the Sideshow dolls are so good is because they are much more to scale than the Hasbro dolls, (with their giant heads and accessories. Zira's pencil is about the size of her arm.If it had really been that big Taylor could have held his own against Julius's club quite easily.),and more realistic and detailed.Also, they aren't just made to look like any general apes from the movies, but are specific likenesses of the actors who played the characters, in the make ups that were sculpted specifically for them. No other characters wore these specific appliances.
Dr. Zaius by Sideshow. The costumes are pretty detailed and fairly accurate.



Dr. Zaius,played by Maurice Evans, a Shakespearean actor best known as Samantha's dad 'Maurice' on "Bewitched".

Zira, played by Oscar winning actress Kim Hunter. Kim won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Stella in "A Streetcar Named Desire".
Dr. Zira


Kim Hunter




Cornelius




Hard as it may be to believe, for people who haven't seen the movie, it is actually easy to tell who's who in that make up. For example, Roddy McDowall as Cornelius in Planet of the Apes....
...as opposed to Sal Mineo as Milo in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
Or Roddy McDowall as Caesar in the last two Apes movies.

Or come to think of it,even Roddy McDowall as Cornelius in Escape From the Planet of the Apes.They changed the hair and didn't put those 'I haven't slept in a looong time' black rings around his eyes.The earlier hair was more ape like,darker, shorter, and sort of dry looking and not so blow dried.

This sea air is playing havoc with my hair.
Roddy McDowall without his Ape face.
  Planet of the Apes was based on the novel "La Planete des Singes" by French author Pierre Boulle.  The French title actually translates to "The Planet of Monkeys",which is incorrect. The primates in the novel and the movies, are all apes, not monkeys. That kind of mistake in the Apes movies could get you killed with a dinner tray...


  Boulle was well known for his novel "Bridge on the River Kwai", which had been made into a very successful movie in 1957. Boulle didn't think  "La Planete des Singes" had the same cinematic possibilities, and wasn't one of his better books. Producer Arthur P. Jacobs thought so though, and bought the movie rights shortly after the novel's publication.
  Jacobs shopped the idea to several studios, all of whom turned him down flat. He began to work up a presentation,including a book full of paintings of what the film might look like. He asked "Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling to write a script. Serling outdid himself.: He wrote 30! (By the way, someone has produced a faux Twilight Zone episode by editing scenes from Planet of the Apes,(and turning them black and white), and adding actual Rod Serling TZ voice overs. It's on the internet somewhere.It's quite good.) **UPDATE: Found it! It's on the website Forbidden Zone. You can see it HERE.** The final script was written by Michael Wilson, although the famous ending is Serling's.
  Jacobs' next move was to acquire a star for his movie, one that would make the studios sit up and take notice. After talks with Jacobs,Oscar winning actor Charlton Heston agreed to play the lead human character and suggested a director.With all this on his side Jacobs managed to persuade Twentieth Century Fox head Richard Zanuck to produce the film.It seems to have helped that Zanuck was totally unaware of all the political overtones in the movie.
  The largest challenge to the making of the movie was of course, how do you make talking apes? Make up artist John Chambers was hired to develop the ape 'appliances'. Chambers had developed prosthetic limbs  for soldiers injured in World War 2 before becoming a make up expert.His most well known work, apart from the Apes make up, is probably Mr. Spocks pointy Vulcan ears on Star Trek.

 One million dollars of the movie's final five million dollar plus budget was for make up.Early on the make up applications for the lead apes took 5 hours. They managed to eventually cut it to 3. Kim Hunter had very sensitive skin and had to add an hour or two at the end of her day to have the make up carefully taken off.(In typical male fashion, Roddy McDowall ripped his appliances off.)
  The time in the make up chair wasn't the only hard part of being an ape.Some of the actors found the make ups very claustrophobic. They had to smoke with cigarette holders, in part to get the things to reach their mouths deep within the make up,and partly because the make up was flammable. They had to look in a mirror to eat lunch so they didn't tear their 'face' off. (They were actually told not to eat anything that required alot of chewing, so the make up didn't come loose. According to John Chambers this order was ignored, and the ape cast came into the make up room after lunch to get their faces reattached, with their chin pouches full of 'leftovers'.)The make up, combined with the heavy costumes proved to be a bit much in the hot summer weather in California and Arizona.I recall reading that Maurice Evans fainted from the heat and fell off his horse. (After the first couple,subsequent Apes movies were filmed in cooler seasons.)
"What will he find out there Doctor?"   "Several sequels Zira."
  It was all worth it though. The film is considered a classic. It also became a massive merchandising success.There was Planet of the Apes everything in the stores. I own a large selection of merchandise myself. I'm only kicking myself for trying to act my age (at 12 and 13!) and not buying the dolls and playsets. (That treehouse is pretty cool...) It was perfectly ok for me to own the models, board game, and puzzles,(Which I did...do.), but not the dolls. I have since tried to make up for it. Ken has bought me most of the Mego Apes, plus I have the Hasbro ones and these Sideshow dolls...uh, figures. (Sorry guys.)
  Planet of the Apes was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Original Music Score, and  Best Costume Design. It lost both, but did win an Honorary Oscar for the make up.

John Chambers, left, accepts his Oscar from Walter Matthau and an unidentified companion.What are you laughing at John? His tux probably cost more than yours.(Well. He couldn't get his off the rack, now could he?)
 'Honorary', because at the time there was no category for make up. An Oscar for make up had only been given out one other time, another honorary Oscar, for The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, in 1964. There were no other Oscar winners for make up until 1981, when a Best Make Up category was finally created.
  Roddy McDowall, appeared in 4 Apes movies and an Apes TV series (albeit a short lived one.). He was cheated out of his one chance at an Oscar. He was the favourite to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Cleopatra (1963). Twentieth Century Fox somehow submitted him in the wrong category, 'Best Actor', instead of Best Supporting Actor, and his nomination was disqualified.
I dreamed I was being presented with this giant Oscar, and I was wearing a skirt...
I always wondered why he never won a juvenile Oscar, as he was so fussed over as a child actor.He surely would have won for How Green Was My Valley(1941).(Roddy was under contract to Twentieth Century Fox as a child actor. When casting was being done for How Green Was My Valley and Roddy's screen test came on, casting director Lew Schreiber told the director, "You don't want to see this kid. He's wall eyed." He still got the part.) It won almost everything else that year.

Ok Roddy, practically everybody else here is winning an Oscar and you're not.Get used to it. Now smile!
 In doing research for my post this week,on the Judy Garland/Dorothy doll and Juvenile Oscars I found out why he never won a Juvenile Oscar. They were very lax about giving out Juvenile Oscars in the first place, and during most of World War 2 they just sort of forgot about them. Story of his life.
   As long as I can remember I've found apes so interesting.They're so close to humans. Humans and chimps share between 96 and 99 % of the same DNA. Chimpanzee babies' intelligence grows at the same rate as human babies until they reach somewhere around 2 years old. As a kid I used to watch all the Jane Goodall TV specials and wanted to do what she did, living amongst the chimps and studying them. So I always found the whole 'what if?' idea of the Apes concept fascinating. I was 6 when the original movie came out. I don't know when I became aware of them. I just know I had wanted to see the movies for ages before they were shown on TV when I was in 6th grade, (I was 11 or 12.) From then on they have been one of my favourite things. I am nerd enough to have made an Apes scrapbook around age 12, and I still have it. (Ok, it's a combination Apes/Roddy McDowall scrapbook.)Ken happened to have made one when he was a kid too. I always tell him that if we ever get a divorce, I get custody of his Apes scrapbook!
"What are you doing Zira?"  "I think I lost a contact." "Oh! Those things are the Devil's pawn!"
  That concludes Oscar Week. See you tomorrow for Skipper Saturday.

4 comments:

  1. I was always scared to watch that show when I was a kid. They did an awesome job on these sculpts.

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    1. You should see the repaints some people have done. They're even more amazingly realistic. Hmmm. You were afraid and I was obsessed. I wonder what that says about us. I do have one kid who eats with her fingers alot...

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  2. It's Evie anonymous again. I'm so happy to find someone else who likes Roddy McDowall. He seems so underrated as an actor and I always thought he was wonderful. He was so modest and unassuming and yet he could play roles that could make you love him, or chill your blood, depending on the role. You can see him on all of those 70's shows in character roles like "Columbo" or "McMillan and Wife" and he's always interesting and different from any other actor before or since.
    I wonder if an Oscar mattered to him? It would have been nice if he had been awarded one. We'll never know unless he talked about it in an old magazine interview since he never published his memoirs. He said he knew too much about all his actor/actress friends to write an autobiography. Though I would have loved to read that book had it been written...I admire him for not doing a tell-all. How many celebrities/actors today would show the same class?
    I like "Planet of the Apes," and I understand geeking out on a 70's post apocalyptic sci-fi movie. My obsession was "Logan's Run" and I like it still despite the fact that it's thought rather silly nowadays. At least your obsession is considered a classic.

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    1. Still makes me a nerd though! Actually Roddy has been my favourite actor since I was 7 years old. I would think the Oscar would have meant a lot to him, since he loved the acting profession and movies (as a fan) so much. He was very underappreciated though, you're right. If you want to check out a really good Roddy site, the best is http://xmoppet.org/index.html Logan'r Run was an interesting enough concept that it has been ripped off several times. That should make you feel good!

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Thanks in advance for your comments.