Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, Linda Harrison
Fans of The Twilight Zone should easily comprehend what makes the original Planet of the Apes so great. Co-written, and spearheaded, by Zone capo Rod Serling, this post-apocalyptic action/adventure channels everything that made the show powerful: intelligent social commentary, rich characterization, nerdy genre touches, and a whopper of a twist ending that's as wild as it is thought-provoking. Not bad for a movie about damn, dirty apes, huh?
Charlton Heston stars as an astronaut who crash-lands in a world where humans are treated like filthy primates, caged up and used for entertainment purposes, while overgrown apes govern with an iron fist. The makeup work is cheesy, covering the actors in excessive body hair that begs more for a surplus of BIC razors than flea baths. And a subplot involving Heston's growing attraction to a sensitive female ape is pure camp.
But those aspects of Planet of the Apes only add to the film's enjoyment factor, masking its undercurrent of messages about the ills of oppression. Certainly not monkey business as usual.