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Tag Archive: Roddy McDowall


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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A month ago here at borg.com we discussed looking outside the comic book medium for the artwork of your favorite comic book artists.  You don’t need to look too far outside of comic books to find the next great artwork from fan-favorite cover artist Ryan Sook.  Every year just in advance of San Diego Comic-Con, comic book stores are stocked with the annual update to The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.  First published in 1970, the 1,200 page log of nearly every comic book published to-date arrives at its 48th volume this summer, dated 2018-2019.  Known as the go-to guide for prices for a generation of collectors, Robert M. Overstreet’s book of prices and thumbnail photos is also a source to glean what’s happened in the past year by way of comic book trends.  It features its own hall of fame for comic book legends, plus full-color sections highlighting some of today and yesteryear’s best covers.

For this year’s comic book store exclusive hardcover edition, Gemstone Publishing tapped Ryan Sook to create a cover to commemorate 50 years of Planet of the Apes films.  Sook reached beyond the original to reflect imagery from throughout the Planet of the Apes movie saga– a great homage to the original shocking environment as Charlton Heston’s astronaut Taylor arrives in the future horrifying world of human scarecrows, with General Ursus leading the charge and the creepy denizens in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the return to the past by spaceship for the apes in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, to the militant world and apes under arrest in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, culminating with the eagerly-awaited first appearance of The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  The familiar image of Roddy McDowall behind John Chambers’ Oscar-worthy make-up takes center stage–McDowall connects all of the films alternately as Cornelius and Caesar (and later as Galen in the TV series), and here he cleverly blocks the identity of the planet.

You can only purchase this edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide in comic book stores, so put in a call to Elite Comics to make sure you get a copy when this new edition arrives in July.

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Holy Contributing to the Delinquency of Minors, Batman!  Those fans of the late Adam West’s Batman and Burt Ward’s Robin and their classic camp TV version of the DC Comics superheroes can get a nostalgic fix of the good ol’ days in Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show, designed by Rian Hughes with text by Y.Y. Flurch (actually Joe Desris–Y.Y. Flurch is an in-joke to the name of an author on a book in the series).  Celebrating the five decades since the Batman series premiered in 1966, Batman: Facts and Stats is a technicolor treat for your favorite Bat-fan.

Batman: Facts and Stats is not an in-depth look at the series–it’s more of a “gift book” formatted hardcover–8 inches by inches, it’s a nicely designed scrapbook full of images from the show and selected trivia.  Did you know Robin delivered more than 400 “Holy…” lines throughout the series?  From Holy Barracuda! to Holy Priceless Collection of Etruscan Snoods!  The book is populated with real-world references and in-world curiosities.  You’ll learn behind the scenes information about the Batmobile, Batcopter, and the Batcycles, and photos of many of Batman’s wonderful toys, like the years ahead of its time mobile crime computer, the inflatable duplicate Batmobile, and the Bat-phone.

Only one actor donned the suits of villainy for each of the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Joker (Cesar Romero), and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), but you’ll see plenty of different Catwomen (Star Trek and The Bionic Woman’s Julie Newmar, Barnaby Jones and Mission: Impossible’s Lee Meriwether, and St. Louis Blues’ Eartha Kitt) and Mr. Freezes (Oscar winner George Sanders, director Otto Preminger, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven’s Eli Wallach).  Like many 1960s television shows (think Lost in Space and Star Trek for starters), Batman featured a host of guest stars, with everyone from Vincent Price to Cliff Robertson, Shelly Winters to Liberace, Roddy McDowell to Zsa Zsa Gabor, and so many others.  But what five characters appeared in all 120 episodes of the series?  Batman: Facts and Stats will get you up to speed on plenty of Bat-trivia.

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Gary Gerani, Topps editor for hundreds of classic trading card series returns with a new book in Abrams ComicArts’ unprecedented series of hardcover books recounting the  classic Topps “non-sports” trading cards.  This time Gerani looks at the entire collection of Planet of the Apes images featured throughout three series chronicled on cardboard by Topps in Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series.

In nearly 500 pages Gerani includes the fronts and backs of all 44 cards from the original 1969 Topps set documenting the original film starring Charlton Heston, all 66 cards based on the 1975 television series (featuring Roddy McDowell and Star Trek’s Mark Lenard), and all 90 base cards, 10 sticker cards, and 44 chase cards from the 2001 reboot film directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg.  If you’re a Planet of the Apes fan, a fan of either of these incarnations of the several adaptations of Pierre Boulle’s 1963 science fiction novel Monkey Planet, or a POTA completist, you’ll learn something new about the franchise now spanning nearly five decades.

    

Although you’ll get exactly what you’d expect–full color images of the fronts and backs of the cards, Abrams’ trademark bubble gum cover and wax pack wrapper jacket, and promotional images–the real insight is found in Gerani’s knowledge as a Topps and Hollywood insider.  Working directly on the second and third series and working with the creators of the original series, Gerani provides an understanding of the business of designing a trading card series, the challenges (like celebrity image licensing restrictions), and high points (like finding that perfect image for a card that fans will love).  Many cards use photos taken on the shooting set, so they give different vantage points to the actors and sets than found in the films.

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Announced at this year’s Toy Fair Funko’s new line of Batman action figures from the 1966 TV series will be making their way to stores this summer with Entertainment Earth beginning to take pre-orders now.  These figures are from Funko’s classic Kenner-style retro line, the perfect styling for the campy show.

The best in the line is this showcase set featuring the Batmobile, boxed with the Batman and Robin figures:

Pre-order the Batmobile set now here.  The line also includes Batgirl in Yvonne Craig’s purple costume (above), plus Catwoman (played in the series by Eartha Kitt, Julie Newmar, and Lee Meriwether), two Mr. Freeze versions (played in the series by George Sanders, Otto Preminger, and Eli Wallach), King Tut (played by Victor Buono), and Bookworm (Roddy McDowell).

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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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Jimmy Stewart Lindbergh Spirit of St Louis

It’s the second time TCM and auction house Bonhams have teamed up to offer screen-used and production-made costumes, props, and other relics from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  A November auction, TCM Presents: There’s No Place Like Hollywood, will feature a large private collection of rare items from Casablanca, including the piano featured prominently in the film where Sam plays “As Time Goes By.”  A lesser seen piano from another scene in the film sold in 2012 for more than $600,000.

One lot features a mannequin display with costume components worn by Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, said to have been used in several scenes in the film.  Many of the costumes and props appear to be the same lots that have been featured in other auctions in the last few years, including various dresses from the Debbie Reynolds collection of items offered by auction house Profiles in History.

Casablanca piano

Costumes from several classic films are on the auction block, including a Clark Gable jacket from Gone With the Wind, Marilyn Monroe’s saloon gown from River of No Return, Jimmy Stewart’s Charles Lindbergh flight suit from The Spirit of St. Louis, Faye Dunaway’s dress from The Towering Inferno, a Jane Russell costume from The Outlaw, and a John Wayne Union Army coat from Rio Lobo and The Undefeated.  Sci-fi and fantasy fans aren’t forgotten in the TCM auction, as there will be costumes worn by Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall in Planet of the Apes, a background crewmember astronaut jumpsuit from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a test dress for Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and a Saruman staff and Aragorn sword from The Lord of the Rings films, both from Sir Christopher Lee’s personal collection.

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