Advertisements

Tag Archive: John Chambers


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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The taking of the U.S. hostages in Iran is one of the earliest events I remember, and it was the stuff of nightmares.  It was also the first big event I recall that started the daily newspaper counter, showing the days the hostages had been held.  What we didn’t hear on television were the stories of other Americans who had not been kidnapped but were stuck in Iran.

Based on actual events, Argo is the story of the Canadian Caper, the name given to a joint covert operation held by the governments of Canada and the United States whereby Canada sheltered six U.S. nationals who avoided capture as part of the larger group of hostages held under Ayatollah Khomeini.  Argo was the name of a fictional sci-fi movie concocted by CIA identity deception agent Tony Mendez.  If all would work as planned, he would sneak into Tehran, bringing new identification and other materials to create the new identities, then march the six hostages out in plain sight to the airport.

Editor’s Note: Check out our full review of Argo here.

Scene from Argo–the movie within the movie.

As told by Joshuah Bearman in a 2007 Wired Magazine article, nothing less than a stunning collaboration of unlikely Hollywood and entertainment names converged to create the ruse:  John Chambers, the Academy Award winning make-up artist for The Planet of the Apes, and Bob Sidell, the then Love Boat make-up artist who would go on to work on E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial.  Luckily a foundering production was under way that they could step into, a Roger Zelazny novel adaptation that had already seen concept drawings done by none other than Marvel Comics’ legendary artist Jack Kirby.  Chambers & Co. set up their offices in the facility just vacated by Michael Douglas, who had wrapped filming his own Oscar winner, The China Syndrome and began their work.

Several incredible stories have emerged from the international incidents of 1979 and 1980, not the least of which is the one-day presidential nominee Ross Perot, who led a successful rescue of employees of Electronic Data Systems from an Iran jail.  Perot’s story was most famously told in Ken Follett’s On Wings of EaglesArgo is another story of a similar effort.  The first movie preview is just out, and looks fantastic:

The preview alone really reflects some nice cinematography, art design, retro costumes, and make-up.  Will this be the big career defining next step for Ben Affleck?

Actual faked movie poster from the CIA concocted “film” Argo.

Affleck (Paycheck, The Sum of All Fears, Shakespeare in Love) directs and stars in the film, which is not surprisingly produced by George Clooney (the film has a lot of the look down from his movie Syriana), and Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Affleck.  Affleck plays Mendez along with an all-star cast: Alan Arkin (Catch 22, Gattaca, So I married an Axe Murderer, Edward Scissorhands), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), John Goodman (Roseanne, The Big Lebowski, Always, Community, The Artist), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Escape from New York, Deep Space Nine), Richard Kind (Spin City, Leverage, The Station Agent), and Tate Donovan (Memphis Belle, Magnum, P.I.).

Can anyone say Oscar contender?  Argo hits theaters in October 2012.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com