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Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Monkeyshines & Gorilla Warfare

Frenchman Pierre Boulle gave the world his longest lasting legacy in 1963 when he published the short novel "La Planete des Singes," which became "The Monkey Planet" upon its translation to English. Boule, who also authored the novel that served as the basis for the 1957 film Bridge Over The River Kwai, revealed a particularly shocking version of the future in his 1963 book, one which would continue to captivate the imaginations of science-fiction and adventure fans for decades to come. As all Monstervision aficionados are surely aware, his novel depicted a future in which apes have evolved to the point where they are actually Earth's dominant species, completely controlling and enslaving humans.

In 1968 Twentieth Century Fox released Planet of the Apes, their massively popular big-screen adaptation, and a bona fide industry was born as the public flocked to see humans on the short end of the evolutionary stick. In the wake of the film's astonishing success, Fox wasted no time in launching a series of sequels.
But The Planet of The Apes exploitation machine didn't stop at theatrical sequels, of course, so American consumers were treated to an avalanche of lunch boxes, action figures, coloring books, paperback novelizations and Halloween masks. In addition, there was an animated version created for Saturday morning television and even a short-lived (14 episodes) live-action tv series starring Roddy McDowall shown on network TV in 1974.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), fourth in the series' five films, takes place in the early 1990's and stars Roddy McDowall as Caesar, the son of Cornelius (also played by McDowall in the earlier movies) and Zira. In the preceding film, Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971), Zira and Cornelius flee the destruction of the earth in the 23rd century and travel by spacecraft back in time to the Los Angeles of the 1970's. Once savvy scientists realize that they were actually talking apes from the Earth's future, however, and not merely trained apes from another planet, chaos erupts and only young Caesar, their newborn son, survives, aided by sympathetic circus owner Armando (Ricardo Montalban). With Armando's help, Caesar stays hidden for almost 20 years, finally emerging in "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes," in which the pair returns to a large city to hang some posters advertising Armando's circus. Caesar learns that humans, in the wake of a mysterious virus that has killed all the Earth's dogs and cats, began to turn simians into pets to replace their now-dead dogs and cats. Unfortunately for the apes, the humans soon realized that the simians' superior learning abilities make it easy for them to be trained as servants. Determined to win the freedom of his fellow apes and disgusted by the humans' callousness, Caesar gives new meaning to the term gorilla warfare as he organizes his fellow apes and leads them in a violent revolution.

Bolstering the critical reputation of "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes," at least from a MonsterVision perspective, is the fact that the film is by far the most violent of all the Apes movies. The more violent approach was necessary, according to director J. Lee Thompson and screenwriter Paul Dehn, because they had worked together to base the script on the 1965 Watts riots, which took place just seven years prior to the release of "Conquest." Thompson and Dehn, however, were keenly aware of the fact that no major Hollywood studio was remotely interested in releasing a film in which the hero was the leader of the Watts riots. They realized that the studio would have no objections, though, if they made the hero of their film a courageous ape rebelling against the inhumane treatment to which all apes were subjected. Given the blistering intensity of the Watts riots, it is no surprise that director Thompson wound up with a film that was too bloody and gory for the censors. Heavy edits were made, much to the pleasure of Twentieth Century Fox executives, who were primarily concerned with retaining the lucrative family audiences that had flocked to the first three Apes films. Despite the edits, however, some audiences were still unprepared for the intensity of "Conquest." Thompson recalls that at the film's first preview in Phoenix, appalled mothers were literally hustling their kids out of the theatre.

Diehard fans of the original movie may well have mixed reactions to news that the long-rumored Hollywood remake might not be too far off. A number of A-list names, including Arnold Schwarzenegger at one point, have expressed interest in doing a remake of the original film. The most recent name to be attached to the project is Tim Burton's, perhaps giving Apes fans something to be hopeful about. If everything remains on schedule (never a sure thing in Hollywood) we should see Burton's remake in the summer of 2001, as Twentieth Century Fox is currently planning on giving the film the big-budget blockbuster treatment. The question is, can any amount of money improve on the original?

Now here's Mr. Briggs hisself with those drive-in totals:

Joe Bob Briggs, and it's Mother's Day again, isn't it? They keep having that thing every year. Course, you know how we celebrate around here? We show another Planet of the Apes movie! Your mama was a GO-rilla. That's the message here, right? ALL our mamas were Go-rillas. Tonight, Part 4: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

While I'm on the subject of doing things right, have you noticed that the only people who know how to do anything are from other countries? These two Armenian brothers are the only guys I'll let work on my car. The older Armenian brother is one of those old-fashioned mechanics who can listen to your engine and diagnose it within 15 seconds. And if they say it'll be ready Tuesday, it's by-God READY TUESDAY.
The guy behind the counter at the neighborhood deli is a Ukrainian. He can make the best danged sandwiches since the invention of the cold cut. The man know his meats and cheeses, and he'll even volunteer advice about whether to use mayonnaise or Dijon mustard, depending on the butcher-shop delicacy in question. The only cobbler left in the whole known universe is this Cuban who has a little shop five blocks over. He doesn't believe that any shoe is EVER dead. Any shoe can be resoled, recycled and placed back on the foot where it belongs. Better yet, he knows how to MAKE a pair of shoes. From SCRATCH. Ninety percent of the cooks in America are from other countries. Almost all the great cab drivers are from either Russian or Pakistan or India. They can drive 90 miles an hour through lanes too narrow for a bicycle and never scratch a bumper. So my question is: Since it's ONLY the people from other countries who still know how to do all the practical stuff in the world, why do we keep trying to kick em out? What we SHOULD do is kick everybody out who was born here, and keep everybody who just got off the boat. You ever see a guy who just went down to the courthouse and became an American? Most of em would go instantly to WAR if we asked em. Those are the people I want RUNNING the country, not hiding from the Immigration Police.

And speaking of people in hiding, Ricardo Montalban of Wrath of Khan fame has been laying low with a talking chimp from the future since the chimp's parents got killed in Part 3 of the series. Everything's explained right up front for you newcomers, so let's do the drive-in totals and start "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes." We have:

Somewhere between 20 and 200 dead bodies, including apes. It's hard to tell cause of all the 1972 cinema-verite camera work.
Ape beating.
Ape cattleprodding.
Flame-throwing.
Torture by electrocution.
Torture by shining a light on you that makes you tell the truth.
Plummeting Ricardo Montalban.
Ape riot.
Multiple battle scenes.
120 rounds gunfire.
Three stars. Roll it.

"CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES" Commercial Break #1

For you slackers out there, I will now review the entire "Planet of the Apes" history up to this point. In 1968, Charlton Heston crash-landed his spaceship on a planet ruled by apes, only to discover that he was actually back on Earth, in 3955, and the go-rillas are in control. Actually, the movie came out in 1968, but they said his spaceship took off in 1972, so it would seem futuristic. Then there was Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where Chuck Heston disappears after the first scene cause he didn't want to do a sequel, and another guy comes and wanders around the ruins of New York City with a bunch of mutants till the big one goes off in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, blowing up the Earth. BUT, we find out in "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" that Cornelius and Zira -- that's Caesar's parents -- they took off in Chuck Heston's wrecked spaceship and got into a timewarp that took em back to 1973, where Zira got knocked up with Caesar and dumped him on Ricardo Montalban before she and Cornelius got terminated by the LAPD. And now we're in 1991, which makes Caesar 18 years old, and he sounds EXACTLY like his father, who sounded exactly like Roddy McDowall. So everything's clear, right? There WILL be a test, right after this.

[fading] Remember 1991, when apes were waiters? Can you guys believe that was almost ten years ago? How many times did we did have to suffer through fur in the soup before THAT trend ended?

"CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES" Commercial Break #2

[dabbing a tear] Ape electroshock. It just destroys me every time I see that.
Reminds me of that movie "Frances," when they do the frontal lobotomy scene. After that, Frances can't speak at all. Which is a terrible thing in a movie about a talking mule. Anyhow, I've spotted the problem with the Ape Management training methods. The commands are too similar. "NO! DO!" Can you imagine trying to teach your dog the difference between "no" and "do"? No wonder the goldang apes make such bad hairdressers. By the way, you notice how the apes are all wearing coveralls? That's because the budget of this flick was a lot lower than the first three "Apes" flicks, so they had to cheat the fur suits a little bit. And speaking of wardrobe, I love that black turtleneck get-up the governor is wearing. Very hip for a politician. That's Don Murray -- he's in his seventies now, but he still pops up occasionally in TV movies. Okay, ads and then back to the movie.

[turning to handheld] NO! [camera backs off] DO!
[camera comes back in] DO! [camera backs off, then comes back] NO! [camera has trouble reacting] See, what'd I tell you? Confusing, isn't it? [claps twice; lights go off; claps twice; lights come back on]

"CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES" Commercial Break #3

The dreaded blue-light torture. It worked on Ricardo Montalban, didn't it. The TRUTH LIGHT. Every other sci-fi movie in the seventies had a scene where they used truth serum. In fact, they had one in "Escape from the Planet of the Apes," used sodium pentotol for that one. You don't see much of that these days. By the way, the first "POTA" movie -- that's P-O-T-A: Planet of the Apes -- the first "POTA" was made from a screenplay by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame, and a blacklisted writer named Michael Wilson, so it was chock-full of allusions to Vietnam and the Cold War. "Escape from POTA," which we've also shown here, mirrored the Rosenberg trial of the fifties, the Red Scare, that whole thing. And I don't want to give anything away here, but think about the Watts Riots as you're watching "Conquest of POTA" tonight. That's all I'm gonna say. Okay, back after the ads.

[fading] Course, the main audience when these flicks came out were kids. Buncha yard monsters who wouldn't know the Red Scare if it crawled out from under their bed and bit em. All the "Apes" movies were rated G except this one, which got a PG. I think it was the scene where they train Caesar to make a scotch and soda--just pushed it right over the line.

"CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES" Commercial Break #4

The late Hari Rhodes, sympathizing with the ape slaves. The ONLY black person in the film. They wanted to do that whole "You came from slavery, I come from slavery, let's bond" thing, but then they only cast ONE black guy in the whole flick. Guess that was before the days of affirmative action. In fact, you know who they kept casting over and over in these flicks was the producer's wife, Natalie Trundy. She was married to Arthur Jacobs at the time, and she's the only one who's tied with Roddy McDowall for acting in four "Apes" flicks. She played a mutant in part 2, a human in part 3, and now she's playing the flirty girl ape who keeps making those pouty eyes at Caesar. Was she the ape Caesar got to make the sign of the four-legged furry primate with, or was that some other little tart? Naughty Caesar. Okay, ads and then back to the flick.

[fading] Later I'm gonna announce who's directing the remake of "Planet of the Apes." If you watched the show last week, you'd already know. In fact, if you just KNEW what we showed last week, you'd already know. You can cheat and check the "MonsterVision" website at tnt.turner.com/joebob. Or you can just wait the four minutes till the next break. This IS a black-power thing, isn't it? It's not a Commie story. You could think of these apes as noble Commies. The original writer was a blacklisted Commie. You can never rule out Commie subtext in Hollywood movies.
Place was just CRAWLIN with em. Bless their hearts.

"CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES" Commercial Break #5

Nothing like rampaging rioting apes to liven up a cheap movie, especially when they're rampaging through . . . Century City. Couple a big skyscrapers out where the 20th Century Fox lot used to be before they sold off most of their land to build a big office complex. And that's where they shot this movie, cause I guess in 1973 it looked futuristic. Anyhoo, I mentioned before about the remake of "Planet of the Apes" that they're gonna be making pretty soon. First they had Oliver Stone lined up, then they were talking to Philip Noyce, then Chris Columbus was thinking of doing it, then JAMES CAMERON was involved, then Michael Bay, but last I heard, the official word on the director of the remake: Tim Burton. Interesting choice, no? I'd actually like to see em ALL do different versions of the same movie -- how cool would that be? All right, the ape riots have begun, so let's get back to the carnage, after the ads.

[fading] You know why I want that movie to come out? So I can go to the premiere and yell out "Lousy human bastards!" And then deny I said it. Wouldn't that be cool?

"CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES" Commercial Break #6

Molotov-cocktail-hurling apes against Gestapo troops in lockstep -- it just doesn't get better than that, does it? But why are half the apes in orange uniforms and half in khaki? Did they ever explain that? And if anybody got a decent body count with all that crazy cinema verite photography, write in and let me know, cause I just get completely lost. You can do it care of TNT, 1010 Techwood Drive, Atlanta, Georgia, 30318, or e-mail me at joebob@turner.com. And, see, what was I telling you guys about the confusing ape commands? Not only do they have "No!" and "Do!," but now they have "Home!" "No! Home!" They sound exactly the same. Maybe if they'd tried "sit" and "lie down," they wouldn't be fighting off rebel apes with machetes, you guys know what I'm talking about? Okay, let's wrap up "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes." I've got an interesting story about the end, so hang in there.

[fading] Who's up watching this right now? Three security guards. "Planet of the Apes" fanatics. An emergency-room nurse in Utica. And the strippers who just got off work. Those shoes really HURT, don't they, girls?

"CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES" Outro

You know that speech Don Murray makes, about "you've poisoned our guts -- when we hate you, we're hating the dark side of ourselves"? Did you follow that? In fact, a LOT of speeches there at the end. Originally, Caesar's speech ended with his big militant call to revolution, but audiences didn't react too well at test screenings, so they added that part where he kinda changes his mind. If you noticed, the film cut back and forth a lot between the Governor, and the cute girl ape, and everybody else during the extra dialogue they added. Anyway, next week Mel Gibson dons his leather pants and drag races around the desert again in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that if your son gets a nose ring, it just makes it that much easier to get him up for school in the morning.

Here's a joke for Mother's Day. A married couple goes to the hospital to have their baby delivered. When they arrive, the doctor tells them that he's invented a new machine that can transfer part of the mother's labor pain to the Father. The couple agree to use the new machine, and the doctor hooks em up. He sets the pain transfer to ten percent for starters, saying ten percent is probably more than the father has ever experienced. The labor progresses, the husband feels okay and tells the doctor that he could bump it up a notch. The doctor increases the machine to 20 percent pain transfer. The husband still feels fine. The doctor checks the husband's blood pressure and heart rate. He's amazed at how well he's doing, says most men would pass out or even die with that much pain. He's doing so well that they decide to increase the machine to a 50 percent transfer. The husband still feels just fine, and the pain transfer is definitely helping his wife. The husband tells the doctor to transfer ALL the pain to him, which the doctor does, and the wife delivers a healthy baby boy with almost no pain. She's discharged from the hospital, they go home, the wife is ecstatic, the husband proud, and the mailman dead on the porch.

Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.

[fading] Two kids are having the standard argument about whose father could beat up whose father. One boy says, "My father is better than your father." The other one says, "Well, my mother is better than your mother." First boy says, "I guess you're right. My father says the same thing."

Every Planet of the Apes TV episode is now available in a DVD set

MonsterVision host segments for Planet Of The Apes (1968)

The POTA tv series page, starring Roddy McDowall

Back to Monstervision.org

Or continue onward to host segments for Escape The Planet of the Apes

DID YOU KNOW?
The closing scenes of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) were shot on location at Century City, California, a newly developed West Los Angeles shopping and business development, built on the site of the former Twentieth Century Fox back lot.

Host segment transcript for 5-14-00 broadcast
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