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Tag Archive: Charlton Heston


Review by C.J. Bunce

For the fifth time, writer, editor, and researcher J.W. Rinzler has gone behind the scenes of pop culture’s biggest films for an in-depth look at the creative process.  Following his “Making of” books for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the Indiana Jones films, Rinzler has tackled one of the most iconic of all science fiction franchises in The Making of Planet of the Apes, released this month from Harper Design books.  At last fans of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, have a definitive, exhaustive look at the film from interviews with the cast, creators, and everyone else involved with the movie from its source in a Pierre Boulle novel to film idea to Rod Serling draft script to casting Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson in lead roles, then switching to Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, and Roddy McDowall.  Readers will get an immersive, inside account of studio politics and deal making leading to the ultimate production of the film, and from marketing the film to its enduring legacy.  We’ve included a 16-page preview of the book below, courtesy of the publisher.

Planet of the Apes is best known for its surprise ending and the groundbreaking makeup work by John Chambers.  Both topics are thoroughly covered in Rinzler’s account.  Through initial sketches, concept designs, storyboards, and rare photographs, readers will see the building of the climactic finale from the ground up, as executives, producers, and cast struggled to determine what would be the final scenes of the film.  Heston’s character Taylor did not survive in many of the draft screenplays (and he wasn’t called Taylor).  And Rinzler reaches back to film archives to trace the steps that led to John Chambers’ final designs for the chimps, the orangutans, and the gorillas–and why baboons were ruled out.  Beginning with techniques used to create the animated facial characteristics for the Cowardly Lion in MGM’s 1939 epic fantasy film The Wizard of Oz, Chambers expanded his own methods and created several iterations of the prosthetic masks and makeups before arriving at the designs we saw on film.

The Making of Planet of the Apes includes a spectacular two-page, detailed image of the specifications for the “ANSA” spacecraft that the three astronauts crash at the beginning of the film.  Perhaps the most eye-opening information about the film came from the late Charlton Heston’s personal archives.  He made detailed diary entries that reflect events during the filming process including scenes, discussions, concepts and people that he approved of and those he didn’t.  His entries, contemporary and recent interviews, and information from Fox and Warner Brothers’ studio archives, and records at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fill-in the blanks, building a meticulously complete account of the production.

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space-ghost-coast-to-coast

Originally a Hanna Barbera character that became the impetus for the animated superhero TV genre that took off in the 1960s, Space Ghost got his own reboot in the 1990s as a has-been superhero hosting his own late night talk show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.  Originally airing on Cartoon Network and later Adult Swim, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast was a series with its very own style of humor, featuring the animated superhero interviewing real-world guests via a television monitor to the right of his desk.

Oddly surreal, Space Ghost often spent more time talking about himself than showing any interest in his guests.  His guests often seriously looked as if they had no idea what the series was about, and seemed genuinely irritated–as if they expected to be interviewed on a real entertainment show.  Cringeworthy moment after moment became the hallmark of the series, yet it all worked for fans of oddball animated TV.  If you want to look at human nature in a different way, and see what celebrities have a sense of humor and who can think on their toes, this may be the series for you.

coast-to-coast-crew

Now you can stream all the episodes here at the Adult Swim website for free.  The Bee Gees, Weird Al Yankovic, Jim Carrey, Alice Cooper, Billy Mumy, Mark Hamill, Lassie, Catherine Bach, Jimmie Walker, Bill Nye, Goldie Hawn, Charlton Heston, Steve Allen, Michael McKean, Tom Arnold, Bob Costas, Conan O’Brien, Tenacious D, Willie Nelson, and William Shatner all appeared in Space Ghost’s interview seat, plus many others.

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Planet of the Apes movie poster

Those original “damned, dirty apes” that launched a nearly 50-year franchise that shows no signs of stopping are coming back to the big screen this summer for a limited screening release.  Fathom Events is partnering once again with Turner Classic Movies and Twentieth Century Fox to bring Planet of the Apes to your local theater.  Astronaut Taylor, played by Charlton Heston, and the best apes of the movie series, Roddy McDowell’s Cornelius and Kim Hunter’s Zira, will dazzle once again in what the American Film Institute has voted to their best sci-fi/fantasy Top 100 list as the #59 most thrilling movie of all time, with one of the top twelve film scores–by the master composer Jerry Goldsmith–of any genre, ever.

If you haven’t seen the original, be prepared for one of the best pay-offs in all of science fiction.  Oh, and that quote… although we think we hear Heston call ’em “damn, dirty apes” we appreciate the AFI correcting the grammar to “damned, dirty apes,” listing Heston’s line as the #66 most memorable movie quote of all time.

Old Planet of Apes 1968 poster

As usual, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz will provide a contextual introduction to the film.  Here are the dates, details, and how to get tickets for one of four local screenings:

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Expendables team

Review by C.J. Bunce

What you want to see in a giant ensemble movie is probably different than what you’d expect to see in any other movie.  Above all, you’re probably after sheer entertainment—whatever that means to you—and you’d likely judge the movie using a different standard than what you’d expect to see in the next Academy Award nominee for Best Picture.  These ensemble movies are plentiful enough today that they deserve their own sub-genre in the “Action” tab on streaming Netflix or Amazon Prime (what used to be the “Action” aisle in Blockbuster or Movies To Go).

We’re talking about those movies that crammed in every star that could be found, showcases where studios would show off their current talent, but always big in scope and always a box office draw.  A comedy like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World!, disaster movies like Airport ’76, Earthquake, and The Towering Inferno, epic Western films like The Magnificent Seven and How the West Was Won, and biblical efforts like The Greatest Story Ever Told.  Each offered some of the best stars of the day, sometimes full of current stars, sometimes full of has-been stars.

Expendables Ford and Stallone

The Avengers franchise seems to have turned around the ensemble film with its many lead actors in leading roles, or at least reinvented the sub-genre, but they still don’t have the sheer volume as past ensemble cast films.  The Avengers suffers like many past efforts—with so many actors, how can you please every movie watcher with so little time to devote to each actor?  Ultimately it’s all about finding a good balance.  None of these films ever get a nod for filmmaking perfection, and many would hardly even rate a 5 on a 10 star scale, but that doesn’t mean they don’t often result in good, old fashioned entertainment.  Which brings us to The Expendables 3.

Remember the joke about Rambo, The Terminator, The Transporter, Zorro, Jack Ryan, and Mad Max walking into a bar?  Probably not.  It would probably not be that funny.  But it would be fun to see.  It’s that visual that is enough to make The Expendables 3 work.

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