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Planet of the Apes Revisited: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Classic Science Fiction Saga Paperback – August 11, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Apes fans, this is it: aside from an early '70s article that appeared in Cinefantastique, nobody but nobody's paid much attention to the making of the groundbreaking Planet of the Apes saga. The wait is over, though--and how. Unapologetic fanboys Joe Russo and Larry Landsman (and, later, Edward Gross) have been laboring over this exhaustive, fact-packed, behind-the scenes record of all five movies, the TV show, and the cartoon for the better part of 17 years. The effort shows, with countless on-set pictures, unprecedented access to the estates of Rod Serling, Roddy McDowall, and producer Arthur P. Jacobs, and extensive quotes from virtually everyone associated with the project, from screenwriters to actors to makeup artists to the special effects crew. (To give you an idea of the devotion we're talking about, Russo actually wrote his first "making of" Apes book back in the fifth grade. It was hand stitched with a plastic cover.)

Deserving of special note is Charlton Heston, who contributed not only the foreword for this book but scores of entries from his swaggering personal journals. ("A helluva long day, in the course of which I was finally brought to earth as Taylor. Having evaded clubs, whips, horsemen, crowds, they tripped me ass over teakettle into a thrown net and hoisted me high.... Upside down in a net, a man isn't worth much.") But even more interesting are the minutiae that inevitably emerge in any close examination of a production this complicated: that Marlon Brando had been considered first for the lead, that there were racial casting concerns in the wake of the Watts riots, even the fact that Planet of the Apes hit the small screen in an attempt to knock off Sanford and Son. This account may sprawl a bit in spots, with some quotes that overlap overmuch and minutiae that's awfully minute, but any fan who has even an ounce of Russo and Landsman's enthusiasm will be hard-pressed to complain. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of the 1968 sci-fi film classic Planet of the Apes and its four sequels (plus two short-lived TV shows) will be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive, authoritative and entertaining guide to late producer Arthur P. Jacobs's ape empire. With access to Jacobs's files, the authors detail the several drafts of each screenplay, chronicle day-by-day shooting schedules and create an exhaustive behind-the-scenes history of the epic series. During the book's 15-year gestation, the authors were able to interview virtually every actor, director, producer, writer, production designer, makeup artist and composer on each film. (Some of the quotes could have been tightened to avoid repetition.) Even those who are familiar with the series (or saw the 1998 AMC documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes) will glean new knowledge from amusing firsthand recollections of Roddy McDowall (who starred in four of the films, as well as the live-action TV show) and Natalie Trundy (Jacobs's widow, who acted in four of the films). Apes star Charlton Heston, who wrote the book's introduction, proves a sharp interviewee and allowed the authors to quote liberally from his daily journals. Likewise, memos from Rod Sterling (who scripted the original film and helped with the TV show) are illuminating. Made on ever-decreasing budgets, each film in the series turned a profit and remains enjoyable, both as pop entertainment and for its political, social commentary and allegorical treatment of race relations (particularly the violent Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and its Watts riots reenactments). Rare b&w photos throughout, with a 16-page color insert. Agent, Christopher Schelling. (Aug. 6)Forecast: Tim Burton's big-budget Planet of the Apes remake invades theaters July 27; its release will provide great publicity for this book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (August 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312252390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312252397
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Clearly a labor of love, POAR is jam packed with interesting interviews and interesting tidbits about the production of the first classic film and the well made sequels. This fine book corrects a lot of "myths" about the films (such as the fact that screenwriter Michael Wilson came up with the "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" scene and the fact that Rod Serling's original screenplay was a mess)and reminds us how groundbreaking this first science fiction film series was.
Although memories occasinally differ as to who did what (most notably about the twist ending of the first film. There has been some debate as to who came up with it although it clearly has Serling's fingerprints all over it),the authors have put together a terrific volume that works both as film history and puts the films in their historical perspective. Sure they're all entertaining (some to a lesser degree than others) but the first film (and to a lesser extent the sequels)works both as allegory and social satire in the tradition of Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
The book is stocked with rare photos (including a series of stunning photos from Lydia Heston's private collection)and great interviews. If you're an Apes fan this terrific book is a perfect companion to the DVD re-release of the films (and the making of documentary that aired on cable a couple of years ago). My only complaint is I would have liked to see a bit more of the Apes memorabilia reproduced perhaps even in a separate section.
What's surprising is the impact these films have had over the past 30 years. Although some of the participants would go on to bigger things (director Schaffner's classic Patton and Serling's stint as creator/host/writer on the uneven Night Gallery series), none of their efforts has had the impact of this fine series of films. Although it's taken over 15 years to for this fine book to finally see the light of day it was well worth the wait!
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Format: Paperback
Planet of the Apes revisited is a must for all fans of the classic film series. From the Introduction by Charleton Heston, right through to the final chapter on Tim Burton's "re-Imagining", the Authors manage to answer every question you could possibly have about the Ape Movies, TV series, and Cartoon series. This book was over 15 years in the making, so the Authors were able to interview just about everyone associated with the films, from the Stars to the Crew. Kim Hunter & the late Roddy McDowell provide great anecdotes, and the struggle of the late Arthur P. Jacobs (Producer of the original Series of Films) to get a Studio to MAKE the Movies is exhaustively documented.
Two small problems: 1)- Many of the pictures in the book aren't captioned, so you aren't sure who or what you're looking at; and 2)- The Authors briefly mention the Ape Comic Books, by Marvel and Malibu. I would have liked to see a chapter covering these books, as well as a chapter (or Two...), about other Ape ancillary products.
Ape fans will love this book, and when you're done reading it, you'll watch the Movies with a new appreciation.
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Format: Paperback
"Planet of the Apes Revisited" is by Joe Russo and Larry Landsman, with Edward Gross. The authors chronicle the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the "Planet of the Apes" films and TV series. The book also includes a chapter on Tim Burton's reimagined "Apes" film.
The book's intro notes that the authors had "complete and total access" to the archives of late "Apes" producer Arthur P. Jacobs; furthermore, many actors and behind-the-scenes talents were interviewed for the project. This in-depth research really pays off in this engrossing, well-written narrative. The book is enriched with many quotes from cast and crew and a wealth of photographs.
The authors frankly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each film, as well as controversies attached to them. A particularly interesting part of the book is the account of the test reel in which Edward G. Robinson played Dr. Zaius. The book also discusses the music of the films, and includes episode guides to both the live-action and animated TV series. This book is essential reading for true "Apes" fans. Funny, fascinating, and even poignant, it made me want to watch all of these marvelous films again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book from Amazon in 2002 and I have just finished reading it for the third time cover to cover. I find it to be a great companion to the DVD "Behind the Planet of the Apes." Many of the people mentioned in this book are featured in that filmed AMC documentary -- people like Associate Producer Mort Abrahams, Fox Studio boss Dick Zanuck, makeup specialist John Chambers, the various directors, and of course, the actors, Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter, Natalie Trundy and the gorgeous Linda Harrison, who played Nova.

This book, of course, goes into far more detail -- all the wonderful details we Ape fans need to know, including discussions on plot changes, how the idea for the Statue of Liberty scene came about, how the movie originally came to be made, and so on. The authors are true Ape fans just like you and me, and the book was written from that perspective, by three fanatics who grew up loving the five Ape movies.

The book also brings back wonderful memories of a simpler and special time in the late 60's, early 70's (at least from a child's perspective). The book quotes extensively from Charlton Heston's personal journals. His entries are fascinating, especially those daily entries from when the movie was being made. In a few early entries, Heston wrote that he didn't believe the film would ever get made!

A great story in the book is about that famous trial scene when the three orangutan judges did the "see no evil, speak to evil" thing, and the editors almost took that out of the movie. There is even some controversy over how the most famous ending (and greatest ending of a movie, in my opinion) came about. If you are a Planet of the Apes fan, you must have this book. Enjoy it.
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