We’re taking a look behind the scenes of the 1968 sci-fi dystopian classic Planet of the Apes. We’re all quite familiar with the (somewhat nightmarish) faces of director Franklin J. Schaffner’s apes being menacing and authoritarian but have you ever seen them eating with chopsticks, or smoking with sunglasses? Well, now you can.
The film, an American science-fiction film directed by Schaffner, was based on a 1963 novel from Frenchman Pierre Boulle, originally titled La Planéte des singes. The film however added a little more Hollywood to the story. The film starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. It was the first in a series of five films made between 1968 and 1973, all produced by Arthur P. Jacobs and released by 20th Century Fox.
The franchise’s popularity encouraged producers and studios to reboot the films in 2001 and again in 2011 climaxing with 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes.
The original film tells the story of an astronaut crew who find themselves crashlanded on a strange and dangerous unknown planet. The deserted planet seems empty and foreboding but soon the crew find a society of cognitive and evolved apes who are clothed and have human-like speech. The crew later find that the apes have assumed the dominant role of the planet and find humans both mute and clothed in animal skin.
The behind the scenes photos of the production of such landmark films can often feel a bit glib, a touch pointless, or alternatively, a little self-important. Luckily, with these images, the ludicrous notion of the actors in ape masks doing menial or everyday tasks clearly triumphed over any need to seriously document the filming process.
Among the snaps taken are shots of Kim Hunter smoking a cigarette while getting made up as ape Zira. There’s also shots of Doctor Zaius (don’t sing The Simpsons song… don’t) actor Maurice Evans in a straw hat and showing that apes can chill to. There’s even a shot of the great Charlton Heston in a fabulous red dressing gown. All the shots were taken backstage at various film locations around L.A. in 1967.