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Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

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Escape from the Planet of the Apes
Poster3
Director Don Taylor
Production Company 20th Century Fox and APJAC Productions
Writers Paul Dehn
Released May 21st, 1971
MPAA Rating G
Runtime 97 min.
Continuity Movies

Primary Cast:

SynopsisEdit

Escape ship

Escape from the Planet of the Apes is the second sequel to the original Planet of the Apes and its premise is to reverse the plot of that movie. The film begins over two years after Taylor and Brent had disappeared in space, with a spaceship floating in the Pacific Ocean off of California and military personnel scrambling to rescue those on board. Three astronauts emerge from the wreckage, but when they remove their helmets, military personnel respond with shock, for the three are really apes. The space travelers are whisked away and placed in a cage inside the Los Angeles Zoo.

Cornelius and Zira, the simian ape couple from the first two ape films, fled from their doomed planet (just before the events in Beneath the Planet of the Apes) in the same spaceship used by Taylor in the first film, and traveled back through the same space/time portal and landed on late 20th Century Earth where they are received with fascination and fear from the people they meet. As military personnel and civilians struggle to understand how apes managed to commandeer Taylor's spaceship, Cornelius, Zira, and Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo) attempt to understand how they came to Earth’s past. The reason given for such leaps in scientific capability is Dr Milo, a genius ahead of his time who somehow rescued and repaired Taylor's craft from the Forbidden Zone. While the three chimps are held captive in the zoo, Milo is quickly dispatched by a depressed gorilla, leaving the couple to grapple with humanity's inherent fear of the unknown.

The middle part of the film showcases the couple's fifteen minutes of fame, in which the chimps are treated much like instant celebrities. Underneath all the posh parties, extravagant gifts, and barrage of speaking engagements works Dr Otto Hasslein (Eric Braeden), the US president's (William Windom) science advisor. Using every trick he can muster, Hasslein discovers that the chimps come from the future, that they used humans as experimental lab-rats, and that one day the Earth will be destroyed by militant gorillas. Cornelius and Zira have extensive knowledge about man's history, and describe how a plague killed all the dogs and cats which led to the enslavement of all the apes as pets, who eventually revolted against man. Far more disturbing to Hasslein is that Zira is pregnant. Hasslein's solution is quite simple: destroy the talking chimps and their offspring and thus prevent this future. Cornelius and Zira begin to see what Taylor saw in them, savages. However, Zira didn't want to lie and she was glad to tell them, Cornelius tells her that the humans are going to kill them. Helping Cornelius and Zira as much as they can are Dr Lewis Dixon (Bradford Dillman) and Dr Stephanie Branton (Natalie Trundy). When Cornelius accidentally kills an orderly, the couple, with the help of Lewis and Stevie, escapes from a military compound and seeks solace with kind circus owner Armando (Ricardo Montalban). Unfortunately, Hasslein is tenacious, and like King Herod in his search for baby Christ, he uses police and military units to search every zoo, pet shop, and circus for the talking apes. In the end, Cornelius and Zira are hunted down and brutally murdered, as is their baby. The coda, however, reveals that the talking apes' child is alive and well, living under the watchful eye of the animal-loving Armando. The film fades out as the baby chimp asks outloud "Mama? Mama??..."[1]

Cast And CrewEdit

Supporting Cast:

Apeonauts2

Locations:

Filming Locations:

  • Los Angeles Harbor, San Pedro, California
  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California
  • South of San Clemente, California, USA

Items:

Production Crew

Hassleinkills
  • Assistant Director ... Joseph 'Pepi' Lenzi, Joseph E. Rickards
  • Director of Photography ... Joseph Biroc
  • Editor ... Marion Rothman
  • Music ... Jerry Goldsmith
  • Orchestrations ... Arthur Morton
  • Sound ... Dean Vernon, Theodore Soderberg
  • Make Up ... Dan Striepeke, Jack Barron
  • Hair ... Mary Babcock
  • Creative Makeup Design ... John Chambers
  • Special Photographic Effects ... L.B. Abbott, Howard A. Anderson Co.
  • Art Directors ... Jack Martin Smith, William Creber
  • Set Decorators ... Walter M. Scott, Stuart A. Reiss
  • Art Illustrator ... Bill Sully

NotesEdit

  • The movie was novelized by Jerry Pournelle. The book is notable for having added names and background details on many of the minor characters who featured on-screen or in the shooting script, or even adding new characters to the story.

InconsistenciesEdit

  • In Planet of the Apes, only Dr Zaius knows about the history of humanity - at one point in the film Taylor calls him "the keeper of the terrible secret." In Escape, Cornelius and Zira have extensive knowledge about man's history. It's conceivable that after hearing Zaius' admission that he knew of man's past, they learned more from him; or that when Zaius handed over responsibility to the couple as he left with Ursus, that they were given custodianship of the secret history.
  • Zaius seemed to believe only that man had once been intelligent on the planet, not that Taylor had come from another world - he privately questioned Taylor about where his tribe of intelligent humans lived. In addition, both Taylor and Brent discovered that the planet of the apes was the Earth of their future, but neither saw Cornelius or Zira after their discoveries - so therefore the apes could not know they were from Earth's future. This information is conveniently attributed to the super-knowledgeable Dr Milo.

Behind the ScenesEdit

Paul Dehn's first outline for the third Apes film explained that Zira, Cornelius and a team of friends salvaged and repaired Talyor's ship and set off from Earth to find another suitable planet. They end up landing in Los Angeles in 1973, where they are initially threatened, but later feted by society, once their gift of speech is demonstrated. To add more drama, a plot device was created whereby the apes would fall out of favour and would have to flee for their lives. At this point, Dehn allowed that the friends of Zira and Cornelius might perish, but he was adamant that the couple themselves would survive.[2] The working title in the early stages of production was The Secret of the Planet of the Apes.

20th Century Fox considering hiring either Gene Kelly (Hello, Dolly!) or Gordon Douglas (Frank Sinatra movies Tony Rome and The Detective), before settling on Don Taylor - hired on the basis of the 1969 western Five Man Army.[2] Besides Arthur P. Jacobs, Roddy McDowall, and Kim Hunter, the other major veterans of the first films still on hand for the third film were art director William Creber and make-up genius John Chambers. Creber's job was simpler for this film; for in the first, he had to dream up an entire ape city, in the second he had to create a mutated New York city underground. For Escape he merely had to cope with present day Los Angeles. Oscar-winning make-up man Chambers performed more of a supervisory role than on the previous two movies. And, similarly, this film required only three simian chatacters.

Marvel escape1

There has been much fan speculation over the years about the 'missing scene' from the opening of Escape - a scene outlined in the script in which the Ape-onauts witness the destruction of their planet and begin to travel through time. On the basis of the evidence it seems likely this scene was in fact filmed, but cut from the final edit. The evidence being that an elaborate ship interior was constructed specifically for this scene (it wasn't used again in the movie, but the the interiors were re-used for the opening episode of the TV series a few years later, with alterations because the filming was taking place from the front of the ship rather than from the interior). A few photos also seem to show the apes being filmed in the cockpit, but they have their helmets on. Information given on the 2008 Blu-Ray release of Escape suggested that the scene was shot but that the producers preferred to hold the element of surprise until the apes removed their helmets on the beach, and that they also felt the scene might lead the audience to anticipate that this would be a standard science-fiction film when, in fact, it was primarily a love story - albeit between two apes.[2] If this scene (and others: see entries for General Brody, Hercules & Brunhilde) was filmed, there is good reason to suppose it may be released eventually, given the recent extended releases of Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. The Marvel Comics' adaptation of Escape was based on scripts rather than the finished film, and so included the scene. In fact, it inspired one of the best cover illustrations of the Marvel series (by Ken Barr). In the final screenplay (reprinted in the comic adaptation), the dialogue ran:

Astronaut 1 (Cornelius): "We made it."

Marvel escape2

Astronaut 2 (Milo): "So far. But one thing is for certain. Whoever wins the war, there'll be no place on Earth for us."

Astronaut 3 (Zira): "Where are we going?"

Astronaut 2: "Probably to our death. But just possibly -- The fools... they've finally destroyed themselves."

Astronaut 1: "My God, the Earth is no more."

Astronaut 3: "And we've escaped."

Astronaut 2: "We have, if we survive the shock wave."

400px|A fan-made reconstruction of the missing scenes


A scene in the first draft screenplay (as The Secret of the Planet of the Apes) hinted at the accelerated evolution of the primitive apes already occurring before the appearance of the ape-onauts. This was presumably intended to tie-in to the history outlined by Cornelius and prepare the way for the advanced ape society to develop in further sequels. Why, therefore, it was dropped from the final screenplay is not clear. In the scene, Armando shows Lewis and Stevie around his circus. Inside the big-top, he has three cages (there were only two in the movie):

Armando: (showing first cage) "Here we have put the bad-tempered and troublesome Nero. He gets headaches and, like his namesake... ideas. His brain is growing faster than his cranium."

Stevie: "It's endemic among young chimps--"

Lewis: "--and incurable."

Armando: (sadly) "I know. He will have to leave."

Nero slaps his aching head and pounds the floor of the cage.

Armando: (showing second cage) "Here we have bundled the rest of the troupe, including Heloise, Abelard and -- Salome, your god-daughter."

(When the police later arrive to look for Zira and Cornelius, the script notes that Nero is also no longer in his cage.) [4]


One further change, though perhaps a minor one, between the initial script and the final screenplay, dealt with the deaths of Zira and Cornelius. The original sequence of events had Hasslein shoot the baby chimp dead, followed by Cornelius shooting Hasslein, then throwing the gun into the sea, grief-stricken over the death of 'his' baby and also over having killed two humans. As the police bloodhounds reach the ship, Zira tries to run down the gangplank to escape but is savagely mauled by the dogs. The police shoot her 'to put her out of her misery'. Cornelius, now suicidal, pretends to still be armed and walks toward the police with a hand in his pocket. He is shot first by E-1, then, fatally, by police.


  • The film-makers shot the opening scenes of the apes 'splashdown' in their renovated space capsule off the Malibu Coast.[7]
  • Sal Mineo was offered the role of Dr. Milo at the recommendation of his friend Roddy McDowall. It was reported in late November 1970 that Arthur P. Jacobs had added the new ape character in a casting switch. It has also been suggested that the script was later re-written to kill the character off earlier than planned because Mineo found the makeup so uncomfortable,[8] but a screenplay dated 2 October 1970 already included Milo and depicted his death as it is seen in the movie. It is true, however, that Mineo suffered severe panic attacks brought on by the claustrophobic ape appliances. McDowall recalled seeing the terror in his eyes and warned the director he was going to have trouble with Sal, while Kim Hunter remembered, "We did have to hug Sal a lot. It was very, very difficult for him being confined in the appliances. He was not comfortable at all being a chimpanzee."[5] Milo's death scene was shot on 22 and 23 December 1970.[9]
  • More than on the previous Apes movies, Kim Hunter felt a sense of isolation whilst in makeup: "It was very peculiar, because Roddy and I were the only chimps. John Randolph, an old, old friend of mine, was in it, and I grabbed him and asked, 'Am I being paranoid, or something?' He said, 'The problem, Kim, is that I know in my head that underneath all that makeup, it's you, but I can't keep that in my mind all the time!' For some reason the human actors tended to keep us at arm's-length on that one because they couldn't quite ignore the barrier of the difference!"[6]
  • Accustomed as Hollywood residents were to watching movie crews at work on outdoor locations, the sight of an ape couple selecting fashions at Georgio's Dress Shop and Dick Carroll's Store for Men in the heart of Los Angeles was sure to cause problems. Surprised motorists were so rattled by the sight of an anthropoid duo promenading about the LA streets, that a several-car collision took place blocking traffic for many blocks.[7]
  • The crew took advantage of a day that the Museum of Natural History was closed to complete some additional sequences.[7]
  • Aside from the Los Angeles Zoo and other environs, portions of the Signal Hill oil fields were utilized for the exciting apehunt.[7]
  • The final showdown between the fugitive apes and Dr Hasslein's police took place among the rusting derelicts in LA Harbor at San Pedro.[7]

Arthur Jacobs was aware of disappointing returns from Escape when interviewed in December 1971: "I've tried to analyze why ['Escape' did not do as well as 'Beneath'], and I think there are three reasons. First, there were some who were disappointed in the second picture. Secondly, it's really not so much science fiction as the others were, and I think that was a letdown for some kids, even though it received better reviews and was I think a better film. It was an intimate picture, not a spectacle. Third, I think Fox took the attitude it was pre-sold, and therefore not spending too much money in selling it. However, it will gross about $10 million from its budget of less than $2 million. The fourth picture has great size and big spectacle, more than any of the others." [10]

TriviaEdit

  • In Planet of the Apes, as Taylor and the primitive humans are held in Zira's laboratory, a scene in writer Michael Wilson's script showed them being given building blocks in order to reach a banana hung from the ceiling of their cells. The scene was not included in the film, but the concept was recycled by Paul Dehn for Escape from the Planet of the Apes.[11]
  • This film received positive reviews similar to the original 1968 film Planet of the Apes. All other sequels to the 1968 original have received mixed to negative reviews.
  • The young chimp playing 'Baby Milo' was probably named 'Kelley', and was one of two chimpanzees imported to play the role, one of whom did not survive the trip, leaving the remaining chimp to play both parts.[12]
  • Arnold Mesches had worked for CBS as a courtroom artist in Los Angeles, covering such trials as the Manson killings and the Robert Kennedy assassination, when director Don Taylor came to pick up his step-daughter from a class Mesches taught in LA. Taylor asked Mesches if he would like to play a courtroom artist in a movie he was doing. Mesches, who thought “the original Planet of the Apes story was astonishing,” said 'yes', which led to his appearance in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. During the four or five days he spent on set, Mesches used his free time to sit and draw pictures of the cast and crew of the film; everyone involved wanted a drawing and they would purchase the drawings from him on the set to add to their own collections. “It was just fun,” Mesches said about his experiences during filming.[13]

QuotesEdit

Cornelius: Please do not use the word "monkey"! It is offensive to us. As an archaeologist, I had access to history scrolls which were kept secret from the masses, and I suspect that the weapon which destroyed Earth was man's own invention. I do know this: one of the reasons for man's original downfall was your peculiar habit of murdering one another! Man destroys man. Apes do not destroy apes!

Milo: We have returned to Earth nearly 2,000 years before its destruction. And there's another reason for us to keep silent: our human captors will not be edified to learn that one day their world will crack like an egg and burn to a cinder because of an ape war of aggression. Apes, at this instance in time, cannot yet talk. For the moment, we should follow their example.

Zira: Of course the female knows! We came from your future.

Cornelius: Where we come from, apes talk. Humans are dumb.

Chairman of the President's Committee of Inquiry: Does the other one talk too?

Cornelius: Only when she let's me.

Otto Hasslein: Now they've killed. And for that, they must be killed. It has to be done and done quickly before we start a stone growing that'll gather enough poison moss to kill us all!

Otto Hasslein: That's what I'm worried about. Later. Later, we'll do something about pollution. Later, we'll do something about the population explosion. Later, we'll do something about the nuclear war! We think we've got all the time in the world!! How much time has the world got?!! Somebody has to begin to care!

Otto Hasslein: Mr. President, the people must be told that the killers of today could become the mass murderers of tomorrow!

Related ArticlesEdit

External LinksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Overview of the Movie by Octavio Ramos Jr.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Planet of the Apes: 40 Year Evolution, by Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall (June 2008)
  3. 'Planet of the Apes' UK Issue #95 at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
  4. 'The Secret of the Planet of the Apes' at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive
  5. 5.0 5.1 Behind the Planet of the Apes
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chimp Life, by Tom Weaver & Michael Brunas - 'Starlog' (November 1990)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Finding the Future on the Fox Ranch!, by Sam Maronie - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #43 (16 August 1975)
  8. Escape from the Planet of the Apes Trivia at IMDb
  9. Sal Mineo: A Biography, by Michael Gregg Michaud
  10. 'Cinefantastique Planet of the Apes Issue' (1972) at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
  11. Final Shooting Script at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
  12. Planet of the Apes Revisited, by Joe Russo and Larry Landsman (2001)
  13. Rise of the Artist, by Severin Walstad - Gainesville.com (August 27, 2011)



Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes Beneath the Planet of the Apes Escape from the Planet of the Apes Conquest of the Planet of the Apes Battle for the Planet of the Apes

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