Franklin J. Schaffner’s PLANET OF THE APES (1968) w/ Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, and Kim Hunter airs on TCM tonight (Sun 9/7/14) at 8 p.m. (ET).
While it can’t compete with the CGI realism of the recent APES films, PLANET OF THE APES is one of the most memorably fun sci-fi films ever made. Heston’s alpha male scenery chewing never found a better home on movie screens than it does here (BEN-HUR included, in my opinion), and Kim Hunter gives an Oscar-worthy performance, even though she’s rendered barely recognizable by John Chambers’ Academy Award-winning make-up.
Ted Post’s BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970) follows at 10 p.m. The second installment in what would become a five-film series stars James Franciscus and Kim Hunter, with David Watson replacing McDowall as Cornelius. Charlton Heston briefly reprises his role of Taylor, though I suspect he regretted that decision when he saw the final film.
The concluding voiceover narration by Paul Frees is worth the price of admission, particularly if you didn’t pay anything to get in. This is a depressingly terrible film, which makes the course correction the series did with the brilliant ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971) even more amazing. Sadly TCM is not airing ESCAPE tonight, but you can watch it on Amazon (not Netflix, unfortunately).