The Planet of the Apes Chronicles

Compiled and Edited by Paul A. Woods
Plexus. London. 2001.
Pbk. 174 pages. £9.99.

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The Planet of the Apes Chronicles contains articles and interviews relating to all the Ape movies right up to Tim Burton’s 2001 ‘re-imagining’ of the franchise. No doubt the producers want Burton to provide the springboard for plenty more sequels in the same way as he set-up and ‘re-imagined’ Batman. It certainly looks like he has done the trick, so expect plenty more monkey business at a multiplex near you.

After reading about Gene Roddenberry’s skills at attributing total creative control over the Star Trek universe, it is interesting to see that the main creators of the first (and some would say best) Planet of the Apes movie believed they created the much-praised twist ending.

Wood and his contributors show that the film’s producer Arthur P. Jacobs, believed he invented that ending after taking lunch with Blake (Pink Panther) Edwards at the Yugo Kosherama Delicatessen, Burbank. Jacobs is quoted as saying:

“As we walked out, after paying for two ham sandwiches, we looked up, and there’s this big Statue of Liberty on the wall of the delicatessen. We both looked at each other and said, ‘Rosebud’.”
This Citizen Kane scenario sounds good, but co-writer Rod Serling’s claim sounds more convincing. After checking the many drafts by Serling, Gordon C. Webb shows that the idea developed slowly from a collection of similar twist-ending ideas. Indeed, Pierre Boulle’s novel, Monkey Planet, which was the inspiration for the film, contained the twist whereby the narrators of the story turn out to be monkeys. Such a twist couldn’t be executed on film as something cinematic and simple had to be contrived. What makes it most likely that Serling is most responsible for the Statue of Liberty ending is that he had already penned the cult TV series The Twilight Zone that always had a twist at the end. One of his scripts, I Shot an Arrow into the Air, even had astronauts crash land on Earth without knowing it. 

As a private joke Serling, obviously sick of constant re-writes, wrote an ending where the Statue of Liberty is found with a middle finger extended...

Not entirely happy with Serling’s efforts the script was re-written by Michael Wilson who made it more cartoonish and acceptable to a mass audience.

The book dutifully covers the four Ape sequels and even provides episode guides to the 1974 TV series and the 1975-76 animated TV series, plus there is a chronological history of the Apes cycle. At the very end there is a review of the complex machinations involved in bringing the 2001 Planet of the Apes to the screen.

Overall this is an excellent guide to the world of Apes pre-Tim Burton. In contrast to the original, the ending of Burton's version has been much criticised, ridiculed and someone even said it was copied from a comic book (but they retracted their statement saying they had merely made a humorous comment). Bet not too many people will fall over themselves to get the credit for this!

It is a pity 20th Century Fox would not allow the publishers to use artwork from the earlier Ape movies, fortunately, despite not having any pictures, it did not detract me from enjoying this tome about a pop phenomenon that will be around for many more years.

Nigel Watson 
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