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Blake Edwards (born William Blake Crump) was a director, writer and producer who was involved very early on in efforts to create a movie based on Pierre Boulle's novel La Planète des singes. Edwards was then more popularly known for creating the TV series Peter Gunn (1958-1961) and directing Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and later for his contributions to the successful Pink Panther films (which featured title sequence animations by the newly-formed DePatie-Freleng Enterprises). In interview, screenwriter Rod Serling later recalled that Edwards, at one point before Arthur P. Jacobs' involvement, was interested in producing as well as directing the project by himself: "The King Brothers had a notion about doing the Pierre Boulle book as a nickle-and-dime picture. I was convinced that it could be done and at the time, as I recall, I did a whole treatment for them, a scene-by-scene breakdown of how we would lick the problem. They ultimately discarded it because of the ape population. I never heard any more about it until I got a call from Blake Edwards, who was the next individual to get into it and who was going to produce and direct it. I was told by Blake to go, not to worry about money. It was going to be a big one. My earliest version of the script featured an ape city, much like New York. It wasn't carved out rocks with caves on the side of a hill. It was a metropolis. Everything related to anthropoid. The automobiles, the buildings, the elevators, the rooms, the furniture. The script was very long and I think the estimate of the production people was that if they had shot that script it would've cost no less than a hundred million dollars - y'know, by the time they created an ape population, clothed it and built a city for them to live in. Then Arthur Jacobs got into it, as I recall. Arthur said it could be done but not for that kind of money. So I redid it - with an eye toward a very special society, one that was semi-primitive, semi-civilized. I think I did about three drafts of the actual screenplay." [1] Other accounts have Arthur Jacobs and director J. Lee Thompson overseeing the project in late 1963, before Edwards' involvement.

Working in partnership with Jacobs by February 1964, Edwards was scheduled to direct the project when it looked likely to be made by Warner Bros., and screenwriter Serling was reporting directly to the two men. The iconic 'Statue of Liberty' ending to the eventual Planet of the Apes movie appeared in Serling-authored scripts from late 1964; Jacobs claimed that he and Edwards had been inspired by a Statue of Liberty on the wall of a delicatessan where they were discussing the movie, and that they suggested the idea to Serling;[2] Edwards himself claimed that he came up with the ending with artist Don Peters, stating "As I recall it was pretty much Don";[3] Don Peters claimed that it was his idea alone, because he first introduced the ruined Statue of Liberty scenes when he did the original publicity paintings for Jacobs; [4] associate producer Mort Abrahams maintained the idea came from Serling;[5] Serling himself said variously: "The book's ending is what I wanted to use in the film, as much as I loved the idea of the Statue of Liberty. I always believed that was my idea." "That's very possible [that the ending was a combination of about four or five people thinking the same thing at about the same time],"[6] but also that it was "In collaboration with Jacobs. Yes, it was a wild cinematic scene." [7]

In January 1965, Warner Bros. estimated the budget for such a movie would cost more than anyone in Hollywood or in Europe was willing to risk on a concept as unbelievable as a planet of talking apes. Edwards bowed out for other projects and the doomed Apes film was shopped around and rejected by the studios for a further twenty months. Eventually the tenacious Jacobs secured the involvement of writer Michael Wilson, actor Charlton Heston, and - on Heston's recommendation - director Franklin J. Shaffner, and produced the hugely successful movie finally released in 1968.[8]

NotesEdit

  • A fourth male astronaut was added to the Planet of the Apes draft script by Rod Serling in late 1964. His name was originally 'Blake', before being renamed 'Stewart' by February 1965.[9] This could likely be related to Blake Edwards' withdrawal from the project around the same time.

External LinksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 'Marvel Planet of the Apes, UK Issue 12' (1975)
  2. The Planet of the Apes Chronicles by Paul A. Woods (Page 33)
  3. The Legend of the Planet of the Apes by Brian Pendreigh
  4. The Legend of the Planet of the Apes by Brian Pendreigh
  5. The Planet of the Apes Chronicles by Paul A. Woods (Page 46)
  6. 'Cinefantastique Planet of the Apes Issue' (1972)
  7. 'Marvel Planet of the Apes, UK Issue 12' (1975)
  8. Franklin James Schaffner article at All-Movie Guide
  9. Rod Serling's Third 'Planet of the Apes' Draft

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