35. 'Planet of the Apes'
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One of my earliest childhood memories is of watching "Planet of the Apes"
during its first television broadcast in 1973. Charlton Heston starring as an
astronaut stranded on a planet ruled by talking apes blew my mind, and like much
of American youth culture, I became swept up in the ape-mania of the era. Having
been overshadowed by "Star Wars" a few years later, some people forget how big
"Planets of the Apes" really had been. In the early 1970s, when the movies
weren't on TV, or one of the two television spin-offs wasn't airing, you could
wear your "Apes" mask when reading your "Apes" comic books as you listened to
your "Apes" records while playing with various "Apes" toys and ingesting "Apes"
Find: Watch clip from 'Planet of the Apes'
Having spent years in development, with several directors and actors
attached, the film went into production in 1967 with Heston cast in the lead and
Franklin Schaffner directing. The script, co-written by Michael Wilson and
"Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling, took "Planet of the Apes" beyond the
standard kiddy-fare of other science fiction movies, infusing it with social
satire and political commentary. In the end, the cynical script was a brilliant
reflection of the politically tumultuous times in the United States, fitting in
perfectly with the new era of American film that was emerging in the late 1960s.
And the talking monkeys were really cool. — David Walker
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(Kim Hunter, Roddy Mcdowall, Charlton Heston in "Planet of the
Apes"/Moviestore Collection/Rex Features)