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Planet of the Apes 3: Escape

1971       Roddy McDowall

"Escape from the Planet of the Apes" is the third in the series of films stemming from the highly original and hugely profitable "Planet of the Apes," which producer Arthur P. Jacobs made for 20th Century-Fox in 1967.

The first film, based on Pierre Boulle's novel, "Planet of the Apes," took place in the distant future after human civilization as we know it had long been destroyed. The second, "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," continued chronologically, but in the third, Paul Dehn's original screenplay moves the period all the way back to the present day.

The simian scientists narrowly escaped the conflagrations that consumed the earth in the second film and now they travel, through a bend in time and in a handy spaceship, backward across the centuries to contemporary Los Angeles.

In "Escape from the Planet of the Apes," Kim Hunter, the only star to appear in all three films, is reunited with Roddy McDowall, who played her simian boyfriend in the first one, and her husband in this

one. Both stars, in their ape makeup, get to wear fashionable modern clothes for the first time.

For the new film, producer Jacobs has added a new ape character who, in a switch in casting, is played by filmdom's longtime favorite juvenile delinquent, Sal Mineo. These three are the only ape characters in the story. Actually, there is a fourth but he is a contemporary, non-intelligent ape in a zoo who tries in his confused way to befriend the brilliant visitors. He is played by Janos Prohaska who specializes in portraying apes on the screen.

Among the contemporary human characters are Bradford Diliman and Natalie Trundy, who play animal psychiatrists; Eric Braeden, who played a brilliant scientist in "Colossus, the Forbin Project," plays another scientist here; William Windom, who played a congressman on television for several years, goes all the way up to President of the United States in this film; Ricardo Montalban, who plays the owner of a circus, and Albert Salmi, seen as the government interrogator of the articulate simians.

"Escape from the Planet of the Apes" was directed by Don Taylor who was a leading actor before turning to directing. "Escape" is his fifth feature film. He has directed dozens of television shows, too.

Besides Jacobs, McDowall and Miss Hunter, the other major veterans of the original "Planet of the Apes" on hand for the third film are art director William Creber and makeup genius John Chambers. Creber's job was simpler this time around. For the first film, he had to dream up the vast Ape City. For the second, he had to create a mutated New York City entirely underground. For the current film, he merely had to cope with present-day Los Angeles. Makeup man Chambers' job was easier too, simply because he had only three simians to deal with. One new problem involved making a baby chimpanzee resemble Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall who are supposed to be its parents. Chambers, who worked with 20th Century-Fox makeup chief Dan Striepeke on the new film, won an Oscar for his original ape makeup for "Planet of the Apes," one of only two Oscars ever given to makeup men in the Academy's 43-year history. Click here for more

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Planet of the Apes 3: Escape

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