Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

G | 96-98 mins | Science fiction | June 1971

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Secret of the Planet of the Apes . The beginning of the film features only the titles “Twentieth Century-Fox presents an Arthur P. Jacobs Production,” after which the sequence of the spacecraft being towed to the beach and its occupants disembarking is shown. The rest of the credits then follow, with Roddy McDowall’s and Kim Hunter’s names appearing beside shots of them. The opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order.
       According to a modern source, directors Gene Kelly, Gordon Douglas, Noel Black and Paul Wendkos were considered for the project before Don Taylor was hired. Modern sources also note that producer Arthur Jacobs initially wanted to cast Henry Fonda as the president, but Taylor disagreed with him, fearing that Fonda was too well-known and would overshadow the other actors. Character actor William Windom was cast instead. In a Dec 1970 LAHExam article about the film’s shooting, Hollywood columnist James Bacon, who had a one-line speaking role in the film as “General Faulkner,” stated that Jack Berle, brother of Milton Berle, appeared in the same scene. His appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed, however. About Bacon’s performance, the May 1971 LAHExam review stated: “The face is his but the voice isn’t.” HR production charts include Moishe Guss and Sandy Kevin in the cast, but their appearance in the released film also has not been confirmed.
       According to studio publicity, exteriors for the film were shot on locations around Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, including the Beverly Wilshire Hotel; several upscale shops ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Secret of the Planet of the Apes . The beginning of the film features only the titles “Twentieth Century-Fox presents an Arthur P. Jacobs Production,” after which the sequence of the spacecraft being towed to the beach and its occupants disembarking is shown. The rest of the credits then follow, with Roddy McDowall’s and Kim Hunter’s names appearing beside shots of them. The opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order.
       According to a modern source, directors Gene Kelly, Gordon Douglas, Noel Black and Paul Wendkos were considered for the project before Don Taylor was hired. Modern sources also note that producer Arthur Jacobs initially wanted to cast Henry Fonda as the president, but Taylor disagreed with him, fearing that Fonda was too well-known and would overshadow the other actors. Character actor William Windom was cast instead. In a Dec 1970 LAHExam article about the film’s shooting, Hollywood columnist James Bacon, who had a one-line speaking role in the film as “General Faulkner,” stated that Jack Berle, brother of Milton Berle, appeared in the same scene. His appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed, however. About Bacon’s performance, the May 1971 LAHExam review stated: “The face is his but the voice isn’t.” HR production charts include Moishe Guss and Sandy Kevin in the cast, but their appearance in the released film also has not been confirmed.
       According to studio publicity, exteriors for the film were shot on locations around Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, including the Beverly Wilshire Hotel; several upscale shops in the Wilshire District and Beverly Hills, including Carroll & Co. men’s shop and Giorgio’s women's shop; the Los Angeles Zoo; and the L.A. County Museum of Natural History. The splashdown of the spaceship at the beginning of the picture was filmed off the Malibu coast. A modern source adds that the harbor sequences were shot in San Pedro and other scenes were shot in Rancho Park, near the Twentieth Century-Fox lot.
       Modern sources report that a sequence in which the apes are in their spacecraft and witness the destruction of the Earth was filmed but not included in the completed picture. Modern sources add Paul Bradly, Joe Gray and Robert Nichols to the cast.
       When “Zira” is drugged and answering the questions of “E-1” and “E-2”, her CIA interrogators, brief footage from Planet of the Apes , the first movie in the series, is shown to illustrate her answers, including a shot of actor Robert Gunner as astronaut “Landon,” upon whom a lobotomy had been performed, and the scene in which Zira kisses “Col. Taylor,” played by Charlton Heston. Actress Natalie Trundy, who played “Dr. Stephanie ‘Stevie’ Branton,” was the wife of producer Arthur Jacobs and appeared in different roles in four films in the “Planet of the Apes” series.
       Escape from the Planet of the Apes was a box-office success and garnered many favorable reviews. Several reviewers applauded the picture’s humor and social commentary, as well as the performances of Hunter and McDowall. The picture was the third in Twentieth Century-Fox’s “Planet of the Apes” series and continued the story line of the second picture, the 1970 release Beneath the Planet of the Apes , in which the gorillas battle a race of mutant humans living in the underground ruins of New York City (see above). At the end of that movie, a nuclear bomb is exploded, destroying the planet. In the next film in the series, the 1972 film ^Conquest of the Planet of the Apes , Cornelius and Zira’s baby, now named Caesar and portrayed by McDowall, is grown and leads the revolt of domesticated apes against their human oppressors (see above). For more information about the series, please see the entry below for the 1968 production Planet of the Apes . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 May 1971.
---
Box Office
29 Jul 1971
p. 103.
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1970.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 203-205.
Films and Filming
Oct 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1970
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1971
p. 3.
Hollywood Studio
Jul 1971
p. 38.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
23 Dec 1970.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
26 May 1971.
Section B, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
27 May 1971.
---
Motion Picture Herald
16 Jun 1971.
---
New York Times
29 May 1971
p. 10.
New Yorker
5 Jun 1971
pp. 102-104.
The Observer (London)
11 Jul 1971.
---
Variety
21 Jan 1971.
---
Variety
26 May 1971
p. 23.
Village Voice
1 Jul 1971
p. 54.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Arthur P. Jacobs Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art illustrator
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Creative makeup des
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Unit pub
Animals furnished by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Pierre Boulle.
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Secret of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date:
June 1971
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 26 May 1971
New York opening: 28 May 1971
Production Date:
30 November 1970--20 January 1971
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. & Apjac Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 May 1971
Copyright Number:
LP39195
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
DeLuxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
96-98
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1973, military personnel rush to a beach in Southern California when a spacecraft is found floating in the ocean. After the craft is reeled in and its three occupants, wearing helmets and spacesuits, disembark, the waiting officers salute them. Everyone is astonished, however, when the astronauts remove their helmets and reveal that they are human-sized chimpanzees who stand upright. After hustling the chimps to a military base, the soldiers are instructed to bring the apes to the Los Angeles Zoo infirmary to be studied in secrecy. In the morning, at the zoo, the chimps are put into a cage next to a depressed gorilla, and as they wait, the chimps—archaeologist Cornelius, his psychiatrist wife Zira and scientist Milo—who are from Earth's future and can talk, discuss their predicament. Milo theorizes that they were thrust backward through time to Earth’s past, even though they saw the Earth destroyed by a nuclear bomb, the result of a war in their own time of 3955. Milo advises his compatriots to remain silent, as apes of 1973 cannot speak. When zoologists Lewis Dixon and Stephanie “Stevie” Branton enter, the chimps act intelligently but remain quiet, and Zira easily masters the psychological tests given to her. When Stevie wonders why Zira does not grasp a banana placed before her, Zira blurts out that she loathes bananas. Overcome at hearing an ape talk, the zoologists hurriedly exit. Milo, Cornelius and Zira then quarrel over Zira’s actions, and as their tempers escalate, the enraged gorilla in the adjoining cage strangles Milo to death. The sympathetic Lewis and Stevie console Cornelius and Zira, making friends ... +


In 1973, military personnel rush to a beach in Southern California when a spacecraft is found floating in the ocean. After the craft is reeled in and its three occupants, wearing helmets and spacesuits, disembark, the waiting officers salute them. Everyone is astonished, however, when the astronauts remove their helmets and reveal that they are human-sized chimpanzees who stand upright. After hustling the chimps to a military base, the soldiers are instructed to bring the apes to the Los Angeles Zoo infirmary to be studied in secrecy. In the morning, at the zoo, the chimps are put into a cage next to a depressed gorilla, and as they wait, the chimps—archaeologist Cornelius, his psychiatrist wife Zira and scientist Milo—who are from Earth's future and can talk, discuss their predicament. Milo theorizes that they were thrust backward through time to Earth’s past, even though they saw the Earth destroyed by a nuclear bomb, the result of a war in their own time of 3955. Milo advises his compatriots to remain silent, as apes of 1973 cannot speak. When zoologists Lewis Dixon and Stephanie “Stevie” Branton enter, the chimps act intelligently but remain quiet, and Zira easily masters the psychological tests given to her. When Stevie wonders why Zira does not grasp a banana placed before her, Zira blurts out that she loathes bananas. Overcome at hearing an ape talk, the zoologists hurriedly exit. Milo, Cornelius and Zira then quarrel over Zira’s actions, and as their tempers escalate, the enraged gorilla in the adjoining cage strangles Milo to death. The sympathetic Lewis and Stevie console Cornelius and Zira, making friends with them, and caution them to reveal their ability to speak only to “the right people.” Later that afternoon, the President of the United States tells a group of advisors about the arrival of the apes in a long-missing U.S. spaceship, and orders the formation of a presidential commission of inquiry. The following day, Dr. Otto Hasslein, the president’s senior science advisor, joins the committee as Lewis presents Zira and Cornelius. When the two chimps speak, the committee and audience are both thrilled and horrified. Upon questioning, Cornelius and Zira reveal that where they come from, apes speak while humans are dumb, and Zira barely stops herself from saying that she dissects humans, instead correcting herself to say that she examines them. The pair skirts the question of where they come from, instead pleading that they are peaceful creatures and asking to be unchained. A standing ovation from the audience prompts the removal of their bonds, and the hearing is adjourned. In a nearby room, Zira insists to Cornelius that they must tell Lewis and Stevie the truth, and so reveals that not only are they from Earth’s future, they knew Col. Taylor, the human astronaut who originally piloted the craft that they salvaged and used. They state that they helped Taylor evade the militaristic gorillas, who hunted humans for sport, and that as a zoologist herself, Zira conducted experiments on living humans. Although Lewis and Stevie are shocked, they admit that what Zira did is no different than what they currently do to “dumb” beasts. The next day, Cornelius and Zira are ensconced at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, then outfitted in the latest human fashions. At a party that night, Lewis introduces Zira to champagne, which he calls “grape juice plus.” The following day, Zira speaks about women’s rights while Lewis takes Cornelius to a prizefight, which Cornelius calls “beastly.” Later that afternoon, Hasslein takes Zira to the Natural History Museum, where she faints upon seeing a stuffed gorilla. Hasslein assumes that her fainting spell was caused by shock, but the pragmatic Zira informs him that she is pregnant. Upon taking her back to the hotel, Hasslein deliberately gets Zira drunk on grape juice plus and secretly records her as she answers his questions about seeing the destruction of the Earth. She also reveals that the war was started by the gorillas, who were fighting an enemy never seen by the pacifist chimpanzees. Hasslein plays the recording for the level-headed president, who demands concrete proof of the apes’ ill intentions before destroying them. The president reminds Hasslein that Herod also attempted to slaughter the innocents, and questions him about whether they have the right to alter the future. Hasslein insists that Cornelius and Zira’s baby could be the beginning of the race of speaking apes, and persuades the president to allow him to use CIA agents to interrogate the apes. Lewis and Stevie accompany Cornelius and Zira to a secret military camp, where Cornelius caustically states that humans’ downfall comes from their habit of murdering one another rather than any aggression from the apes. Assuring Cornelius that the session is a fact-finding inquiry rather than “an interracial hassle,” Hasslein orders Cornelius sequestered while Lewis is forced to give Zira an injection of truth serum. While drugged, Zira reveals that she often experimented on live humans, even giving them lobotomies, and that she knew Taylor. When Zira’s revelations are relayed to the commission, they agree that while there is not conclusive evidence of the apes’ hostility, Zira’s pregnancy must be terminated, after which both apes will be sterilized. Back at the camp, Cornelius is fuming about Zira’s treatment when an orderly offends him and Cornelius slams the orderly’s tray into his face. Unaware that he has accidentally killed the youth, Cornelius leads Zira away and they escape. In the forest, however, Zira’s labor begins, and Cornelius decides to return for help. As he creeps along the road, Cornelius is horrified to hear a soldier tell Stevie that the orderly was murdered. Stevie, who has been informed by Lewis of the committee’s decree, believes Cornelius when he tells her that the killing was accidental, and takes him and Zira to a circus run by Armando, an animal lover who agrees to shelter the apes. As Zira cries in pain, Heloise, the circus’ chimpanzee, holds up her own new baby, Salome, “to show an expectant mother what to expect,” according to Armando. Soon Zira gives birth to a healthy boy, whom she and Cornelius name Milo. Later, Hasslein, suspecting that apes would hide among other apes, orders a search of all menageries and circuses. Lewis alerts Armando, who had hoped to take Cornelius, Zira and Milo to the circus’ winter quarters in a month’s time. Before they leave, Zira enters Heloise’s cage to say goodbye to her and Salome. Later that night, Lewis and Stevie take the chimps to a deserted area and, giving them provisions, instruct them to hide in a deserted oil tanker at a nearby harbor until they can return to Armando. Giving their human friends a kiss goodbye, Cornelius and Zira begin their trek, but during their journey, Zira cannot carry both Milo and her suitcase, and so dumps the suitcase in an oil derrick. The suitcase is discovered the next morning, and when Hasslein spots the harbor nearby, he drives there to investigate. As Hasslein searches the tanker, the military and police arrive, followed by Lewis and Stevie. The two zoologists watch in horror as Hasslein shoots and mortally wounds Zira, then shoots baby Milo multiple times. Cornelius uses the pistol given to him by Lewis to kill Hasslein before he himself is brought down by a hail of bullets. The distraught Lewis then comforts Stevie as they watch Zira stagger to the baby and toss its body into the ocean, then crawl to Cornelius before dying. A month later, as Armando’s circus prepares to move south, Armando goes to the cage of a baby chimp, which wears the St. Francis of Assisi medal that he had given to Milo. Petting the baby’s hand, Armando comforts him by saying, “Intelligent creature, but then, so were your mother and father.” After Armando walks away, the young chimp begins to cry out, “Mama, mama.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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