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.|
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".
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....
|This sea air is playing havoc with my hair.|
|Roddy McDowall without his Ape face.|
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."|
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?)|
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...|
|Ok Roddy, practically everybody else here is winning an Oscar and you're not.Get used to it. Now smile!|
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!"|