The Unofficial Oral History of Planet of the Apes, Vol. 1: 1963–1973

BearManor Media. May 2024. 472p. ISBN 9798887714851. pap. $35. FILM
Nearly 25 years after Russo, Landsman, and Gross published Planet of the Apes Revisited, the trio has created the definitive oral history guide to the Apes film franchise. This first volume covers 1963 to 1973, from the publication of Pierre Boulle’s novel, Rod Sterling, and blacklisted writer Michael Wilson’s work on the screenplay, to the creation of the Oscar-winning makeup. It also includes the story about the film becoming a hit and how four additional theatrical sequels followed. It’s fascinating to read that Roddy McDowall based his ape character’s walk on Groucho Marx; Kim Hunter had to take Valium when sitting in the makeup chair; and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes modeled its battle scenes on the 1965 Watts riots. It also contains 126 pages of photos. The second volume will include the 1974 TV series, Tim Burton’s 2001 re-imagining, and the new film franchise that began in 2011.
VERDICT This comprehensive, authoritative, and entertaining oral history offers insights from dozens of actors, writers, directors, producers, makeup artists, stunt people, composers, and cinematographers working on the five films. It’s an essential purchase for fans of sci-fi films and the franchise that rivals James Bond in popularity and longevity.
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