Some 35 years after the classic Planet of the Apes
evolved into one of the biggest films of the year, 20th Century
Fox is launching a new 2-disc collector's edition on DVD.
David Hughes unearths 35 things you might not know about the
The film was adapted from a 1963 novel by Frenchman Pierre
Boulle, author of the book which inspired another classic
film, The Bridge on the River Kwai.
The book may have been inspired by a chapter in Swift's novel
Gulliver's Travels in which the hero visits a land
ruled by horses, and by George Orwell's Animal Farm,
in which the world is ruled by animals.
Although the film's apes lived in a relatively primitive society,
the apes in the book were civilised, living in a futuristic
society with cars, helicopters and aircraft all super-sized
For the film, the idea of civilised apes was deemed too expensive,
and the decision was made to create a relatively primitive
society for the apes.
Actor Charlton Heston, Oscar-winning star of Ben-Hur
and El Cid, committed to the film within an hour of
hearing the pitch, on 5 June 1965.
The earliest scripts were written by Rod Serling, the creator
and writer of many episodes of The Twilight Zone.
Among the other writers who worked on the project were Charles
Eastman, Don Peters and Michael Wilson, who had won an Oscar
adapting another Pierre Boulle novel, The Bridge on the
Planet of the Apes producer Arthur P Jacobs had previously
made such Hollywood classics as Goodbye, Mr Chips and
the original Doctor Dolitte.
Heston and Jacobs were laughed out of almost every studio
in Hollywood before 20th Century Fox embraced the idea of
a movie which reversed the roles of humans and apes.
In order to convince the studio that the make-up would not
look ridiculous, Heston filmed a make-up test with actors
Edward G Robinson (Double Indemnity) and James Brolin,
the current Mr Barbara Streisand.
When the time came to make the movie, Edward G Robinson decided
not to play Dr Zaius because he found the make-up too gruelling;
instead, actor Maurice Evans took the part.
On 20th Century Fox's list of possible directors was Blake
Edwards, who directed Breakfast at Tiffany's and the
best of the Pink Panther movies.
Before Charlton Heston signed to play the hero, John Wayne
was among those considered by the producers.
Bond girl Ursula Andress was originally considered for the
role of Nova, the beautiful but mute human female ultimately
played by Linda Harrison, studio boss Richard Zanuck's girlfriend.
Planet of the Apes was filmed almost entirely on location
in the Arizona desert, in the middle of summer, with temperatures
exceeding 100 degrees making the costumes and make-up even
more excruciating to wear.
The famous courtroom scene was inspired by a 1920's court
case in which a Tennessee schoolteacher was arrested for teaching
Darwin's theory of evolution, a case which later became the
classic film Inherit the Wind.
Actor Roddy McDowall (Cornelius) made a number of Super-8
films during his months on location, some of which can be
found among the extras of the latest edition of the DVD.
Actress Kim Hunter (Zira) spent so long in ape make-up that
Charlton Heston did not recognise her when, after several
months of filming, he saw her out of make-up for the first
McDowall and Hunter researched their roles by observing the
chimpanzees at Los Angeles Zoo.
The film had the largest make-up budget in Hollywood history,
exceeding $1 million - more than one sixth of the entire budget.
Two scenes were almost cut prior to release: Heston's nude
scene, and a shot of three apes in the courtroom arranging
their hands in a parody of the 'three wise monkeys' image
(hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil).
A scene which revealed that Nova was pregnant with Taylor's
child was allegedly cut because one of the studio executives
found the idea of sexual relations between a civilised and
a primitive human distasteful.
Released on 8 February 1968, Planet of the Apes grossed
$26 million at the box office - more than four times its production
budget of $5.8 million, making it one of the biggest hits
of the year.
Breaking box office records in New York, Los Angeles and London,
Planet of the Apes was 20th Century Fox's highest-grossing
and most profitable film of 1968.
The film was widely acclaimed by critics, with Variety
setting the tone on 1 February 1968 with a long review which
began with the words 'Planet of the Apes is an amazing
As with the same year's other science fiction masterpiece,
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, even the critics
who derided the film on first viewing subsequently admitted
they had misread, underestimated or made errors of judgement
in their initial reviews.
Planet of the Apes received two Academy Award nominations,
for costume design and original music; although it won neither,
the film won a special Oscar for John Chambers' make-up.
Four theatrically-released sequels were made between 1970
and 1974: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (once again
starring Charlton Heston), Escape from the Planet of the
Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle
for the Planet of the Apes.
In 1974, a television series based on the franchise amassed
fourteen one-hour episodes, several of which were subsequently
turned into TV movies.
In 1975, an animated television series, Return to the Planet
of the Apes, ran to 13 half-hour episodes before being
In 2001, Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth and Estella Warren were among
the stars of a big-budget "re-imagining" of Planet of the
Apes, directed by Tim Burton.
original Planet of the Apes continues to be referenced
in shows ranging from The Simpsons to Buffy the
Vampire Slayer, and in films from Mrs Doubtfire
to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
An episode of the comedy show Saturday Night Live featured
Charlton Heston falling asleep in his dressing room and awaking
to find the show being run by apes.
Planet of the Apes is also the subject of the most
popular joke in Internet history - veteran astronaut John
Glenn's return to space in 1998 provoked the suggestion that
everyone should dress in ape costumes when he returned to
A line from Planet of the Apes - "Get your stinking
paws off me, you damn dirty ape" - was recently voted the
most memorable movie dialogue line of all time.
thanks to David
Cox at DSA
Century Fox's Planet of the Apes Special Edition 2-disc
DVD collection is available to buy from 26
the Planet of the Apes special edition 2 disc collection
on DVD by clicking here
the Planet of the Apes movie collection on DVD by clicking
Planet of the Apes - The TV series on DVD by clicking
the 2001 Planet of the Apes movie on DVD by clicking