"You damn dirty apes!" That's just one of the inadvertenty
hilarious lines from PLANET OF THE APES that's taken on a comedic
context over time. No one back then seemed to realize how over-the-
top Charlton Heston's acting style was, but it shows now, particularly
in this "Mystery Science Theater 3000" wannabe that was taken for a
film masterpiece in its time, actually winning one Oscar (for makeup,
no less) and being nominated for a couple others. It also spawned
multiple sequels like Beneath the Planet of the Apes,
Escape From the Planet of the Apes, Return of the
Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Escape from the
Return of the Planet of the Apes, Planet of the
Apes: The Next Generation, Police Academy of the
Apes... the list goes on.
Heston is an American astronaut who spends a few thousand
light years in space with his three companions and ends up on a planet
not too dissimilar from Earth. The thing is, on this planet humans
can't talk or think and the guys in the gorilla masks are the dominant
species. Heston's companions are killed or turned into vegetables by
the apon is imprisoned. He surprises them all with his
gift of speech, making two primate scientists (Roddy McDowall and
Kim Hunter) believe Heston is the missing link between ape and man.
Believe me, we movie critics have been thinking the same thing for
When the two apes present the idea before a judicial
counsel (the head ape being Shakespearean actor Maurice Evans),
it is received as heresy, for all good monkeys know God "created ape
in His image." But Heston has already seen a cave that contains
evidence that humans were originally the dominant species, before
apes ever gained the ability to speak and run for president. And he
takes them there, holding up a baby doll and yelling, "If humans
couldn't speak, then how do you account for this TALKING DOLL?!"
And how do you account for your acting ability, Mr. Heston?
The absolute most laughable scene comes with the movie's
surprise conclusion. I won't reveal the details except to say it involves
Heston falling to his knees on a beach and yelling "God damn you all
to hell!" several times in succession. The movie is atrocious and
should only be viewed by those members of society who like to
watch bad movies and laugh at them.
What makes PLANET OF THE APES even more amusing
is that it was supposed to function as some sort of social irony, a
condemnation of fundamentals who reject the theories of evolution.
But let me tell you, if Darwin could see the ape masks and hear the
rotten dialogue exchanges (HESTON [to female ape]: May I kiss you
before I go? APE: But... you're so... ugly.), he'd convert to creationism
on the spot. Luckily for us, science-fiction movies have evolved over
time to the point at which some of them are actually good.
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Hicks