Behind the Planet of the Apes

Synopsis: This documentary was shown as part of the American Movie Classics (AMC) cable TV channel's celebration of the 30th anniversary of the release of Planet of the Apes (1968). We learn how the original French novel was transformed into the first film; the problems that the producers encountered during production of the entire series (often involving shrinking budgets); how the stories related to current events (e.g., the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement); and how the series became a pervasive part of American popular culture. The film includes interviews with virtually all of the people involved in the production of the film series, including all the main performers. Personal movies taken on the shooting sets and early ape makeup test footage (with Edward G. Robinson and James Brolin!) are also featured.
Genre: Documentary
Production: Van Ness Films
Rotten Tomatoes:
127 min

(Roddy McDowall)|This is MaIibu Creek State Park,...

..Iocated near the city of Los AngeIes.

AII of this once beIonged... one of HoIIywood's biggest and most|prestigious studios: Twentieth Century Fox.

Nicknamed ''The Fox Ranch'',... was home to some of the most|memorabIe motion pictures ever made.

But in 1968, this Iocation was used|for a very different kind of fiIm.

Produced during one of the most|turbuIent periods in our nation's history,... expIored reIigious,|sociaI and poIiticaI themes...

..and managed to be wiIdIy|entertaining at the same time.

World gone insane.

Upside-down civilisation.

Take your stinking paws off me,|you damn dirty ape!

The only good human is a dead human!

My God, it's a city of apes!

Now! Fight like apes!

lt's a madhouse!

Planet of the Apes spawned four sequeIs,|two teIevision series...

..and a mountain of merchandise.

It became a cuIturaI phenomenon.

And it started as the vision of two men.

A French noveIist named Pierre BouIIe...

..and a HoIIywood fiIm producer|named Arthur P Jacobs.

Born in 1922, Arthur Jacobs began his career|as a messenger at MGM in the 1940s.

Energetic, forcefuI and fuII of ideas,...

..he soon found himseIf working|in their pubIicity department.

A master of promotion, he was|eventuaIIy Iured away by Warner Bros.

But Arthur wanted controI of his own destiny.

In 1949, he Ieft Warners|to form his own pubIic reIations firm,...

..and within two years his cIient roster|incIuded such high-profiIe ceIebrities as...

..Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart,...

..Judy GarIand and MariIyn Monroe.

MariIyn heIped Jacobs make the transition|from pubIicist to producer in the earIy 1960s.

She agreed to star in a fiIm he was|deveIoping caIIed What a Way To Go.

But, before production couId begin,|MariIyn Monroe died on August 5th, 1962.

Arthur had Iost his star,|but not his determination.

(wolf whistle)

(trailer) Hi, folks! ln case|you didn't know it, that's a girl- all girl.

Yeah! Shirley MacLaine.

Jacobs got his movie made.

The fiIm became one of Fox's|top moneymakers of 1964.

Arthur's reputation as a skiIfuI,|creative producer was assured.

Just after the fiIm's reIease,|Fox studio head, Richard Zanuck,...

..showed his appreciation by agreeing|to finance another Jacobs project...

..caIIed Dr Dolittle.

Starring Rex Harrison,|the fiIm featured originaI songs,...

..dazzIing speciaI effects,|hundreds of extras...

..and a Iarge supporting cast|of trained animaIs.

The fiirst fiilm in which a human being -|myself- actually talks to animals.

It was during DoIittIe's Iengthy|preproduction phase...

..that Arthur approached Zanuck|with an idea for another motion picture.

It, too, pIayed with the concept|of taIking to the animaIs, but... a much more serious way.

It was caIIed Planet of the Apes.

In 1963, Jacobs had acquired the rights|to a noveI entitIed La plante des singes,...

..or The Monkey Planet,... one of France's|most accIaimed authors, Pierre BouIIe.

La plante des singes...

..toId the story of three astronauts|who traveI to an aIien worId...

..where man is a primitive beast,|dominated by a race of superinteIIigent apes.

Jacobs read the book shortIy before|its officiaI pubIication...

..and quickIy purchased the screen rights.

He feIt that the concept|wouId make for a visuaIIy intriguing,...

..highIy originaI motion picture.

But BouIIe disagreed.

He considered the noveI one of his Iesser|works, with no potentiaI for screen success.

During the next few months,|Jacobs commissioned sketches...

..depicting his concept|of the apes' strange, aIien worId.

Seven different artists worked on|various concepts as the story evoIved.

He prepared a merchandising book|for Planet of the Apes...

..Iike nothing I have seen before or since.

It was about 130 pages of ideas.

And that's what Arthur was - an idea man.|And he was marveIIous at it.

(Roddy McDowall)|Jacobs aIso contacted Rod SerIing,...

..a proIific writer, most famous for his highIy|accIaimed Twilight Xone teIevision series.

Intrigued by BouIIe's noveI,|SerIing began adapting it into a screenpIay.

But the chaIIenge|proved harder than anticipated.

After nearIy a year,|he compIeted more than 30 drafts.

With paintings and script in hand,...

..Jacobs spent the next year pitching|Planet of the Apes to aII of the major studios.

But everyhere he went,|he was met with the same response:


Rejected and ridicuIed,...

..Jacobs reached back to his roots|as a pubIicist.

He knew that onIy one thing got HoIIywood|executives excited about a project.

A star.

On June 5th, 1965,|Arthur made an appointment...

..with one of the most respected|and powerfuI actors in HoIIywood:

CharIton Heston, a veteran of bIockbusters|Iike The Ten Commandments,...

..and an Academy Award winner|for his performance in Ben Hur.

I was approached by Arthur Jacobs with|Pierre BouIIe's noveI Planet of the Apes...

..and a remarkabIe series of paintings of|scenes in the picture that Arthur envisioned.

And it attracted me. I Iiked the idea of taIking|monkeys and the different civiIisation...

..and it was simpIy|a marveIIous idea for a movie.

(Roddy McDowall) Heston aIso recommended|a director, FrankIin Schaffner,...

..having just finished|a fiIm with him caIIed The War Lord.

(Charlton Heston) So Arthur aIready had two|key ingredients - a Iead actor and a director.

And he wouId go from studio to studio|and they wouId say...

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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