Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970)(20th Century Fox)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

AKA: Planet of the Apes Revisited (1970), Planet of the Men (1970)

20th Century Fox

Directed By: Ted Post
Written By: Paul Dehn and Mort Abrahams

Cast:
James Franciscus as Brent
Kim Hunter as Zira
Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius
Linda Harrison as Nova
James Gregory as Ursus
David Watson as Cornelius
Natalie Trundy as Albina

Released: May 26, 1970.
Budget: $3,000,000.
Gross: $17,489,000
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Color: Color
Sound: Stereo


Written By: Ken Hulsey

As is the case with all highly successful films, "If you make a lot of money you have to make a sequel." Beneath the Planet of the Apes would suffer troubles from the moment of it's conception. First problem, Charlton Heston wanted nothing to do with the production. He had originally felt that the story had ended properly with Taylor on the beach in the first movie. Without Heston there wouldn't be a picture. The studio fought like mad to get Heston to give in. Finally he did, but the only way he would do it is if Taylor died at the beginning of the film. The studio countered with Taylor disappearing in the first scene, then dying at the end of the picture. Heston agreed under those guidelines. Next problem, Money. Fox had just suffered a horrible year at the box office. Budgets for all productions were slashed, including Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The films original budget would hardly cover the cost of the makeup alone. Corners had to be cut and in the end it showed in the final product. Extras in crowd scenes can be clearly seen with rubber ape masks instead of the award winning makeup. This could have been a monumental film had there been enough money. Still I feel the film is a classic, considering what was made with so little resources.

The film begins almost exactly where the last ended, with Taylor and Nova on horseback riding into the forbidden zone. Just as promised, after a few minutes, Taylor falls through an invisible wall and we don't see him again until the end of the film. Nova is then left dazed to wander in the desert.

We are then introduced to Brent (James Franciscus) who is, unfortunately, the next Earth-man to visit the future. His ship, like Taylors crashes and out of the two man crew, he is the only survivor. This second ship was sent out to find out what happened to the first. As luck would have it they both would follow the same bend in time and would end up in the same place.


As luck would also have it, Nova would find Brent and his crashed ship. Brent can't communicate with her very well, but does find that she is wearing Taylor's dog-tags. He tells her to go find Taylor. Unfortunately Nova has no idea where that is. What she manages to do, is take Brent to Ape City to find Zira and Cornelius. Brent is shocked to find that he is on a planet ruled by apes. The two chimpanzees are shocked to find another talking human. The shock quickly wears off and they promise to help each other find Taylor.

The Gorilla Army is preparing for war. A recent drought has dwindled down the apes food supply. Scouts had reported strange encounters in the forbidden zone. The logic, if there is something out there then it must eat to survive. So, go take it's food by force.

Brent and Nova manage to get captured on their way out of the city. The two of them are brought to Zira for cleaning and she helps them to escape being used as target practice for the Gorilla Army. They both flee the city and stumble upon an old abandoned subway station. Brent then too realizes where and when he is. He takes it a lot better than Taylor did.

The Gorillas run into a wall of mentally projected images on their campaign. A wall of fire with a vision of their Law Giver covered in blood blocks their path. They soon realize this is an illusion and continue on.

Brent and Nova are lured into the remains of what used to be New York City. Once there they fall under the mind control of the cities mutant residents. With their mind powers the Mutants try to make Brent kill Nova. After he refuses, he is brought before them to extract information about the ape army. Brent knows nothing. After tiring of picking his mind the Mutants imprison Brent with Taylor. The two share pleasantries and then are forced to fight to the death with mind control.


The apes attack the city. The mutants have no weapons to fight the apes, save one "The Alpha Omega Doomsday Bomb." The apes quickly take control of the city and the bomb.

Brent and Taylor manage to escape their cell while the ongoing battle distracts the mutants. Once outside the trio is confronted by a gorilla soldier. Brent and Taylor charge him. He shoots. Nova is killed. Before she dies she utters her only spoken word, "Taylor." The two then proceed to the church where the bomb is kept. They try to take control of the weapon, but fail. Brent is gunned down, then Taylor is shot after killing Ursus. With his last bit of strength Taylor detonates the bomb ending life on Earth.


Trivia:

1. Burt Reynolds was the first choice to play John Brent
2. Orson Wells was offered the role of General Ursus. He passed.
3. This is the only Planet of the Apes film not to feature Roddy McDowall.
4. There was a scene originally planed with a half-human/half-ape child.
5. Before the idea of the "Doomsday Bomb" the ending of the film was to feature Taylor, Brent, and Nova escaping the mutants to return to Ape City. Once there, along with Zira and Corneilus, they would set all the humans free and a new mixed society would begin. This idea would be used in the opening scene from "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" that featured a Lawgiver teaching a group of both human and ape children.

See Also: Planet of the Apes (1968) / Planet of the Apes (1974)(TV) / Actress Profile - Linda Harrison

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