- "His name was Caesar, and this is his story in those far off days..."
Battle for the Planet of the Apes opens to a brief interlude with narrator an ape known as The Lawgiver (John Huston), speaking in the year 2670. We quickly flash back to what must be the early 21st century. This is a post-nuclear holocaust world. A small group of human and ape survivors are gathered in 'Ape City', a tiny village made up mostly of treehouses, which is ruled over by the ape king Caesar (Roddy McDowall), the child of the apes from the future: Cornelius and Zira. Unlike the Ape City in the first two films, this one has humans and apes living side by side, although apes are clearly on the top rung of society. After conquering the oppressive humans in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar tries to keep the peace amongst the humans and apes, albeit with apes in charge.
Among the humans are MacDonald (Austin Stoker), the brother of Breck's personal assistant from the previous movie and Abe the Teacher (Noah Keen), who is teaching the next generation of intelligent apes, including Caesar’s son, Cornelius (Bobby Porter) and a militant gorilla named General Aldo (Claude Akins). Among the ape residents are Caesar’s wife Lisa (Natalie Trundy) and two genius orangutans by the names of Virgil (Paul Williams) and Mandemus (Lew Ayres).
It seems that Caesar is having problems with General Aldo and his soldiers because they wish to dominate and enslave the humans. MacDonald tells Caesar that tapes of his parents still exist in the underground archives (of which he had been supervisor) under the radioactive ruins of the city where Caesar was once a slave, which will reveal to Caesar that the gorillas one day will destroy the Earth (Cornelius' prediction from Escape from the Planet of the Apes). Caesar, Virgil and MacDonald return to the ruined city, where they encounter badly scarred and radiation sickened human survivors led by 'Governor' Kolp (Severn Darden), another of Breck's old assistants. Caesar's return stirs the vengeance within Kolp, and soon he and his mutant army are headed toward Ape City to take back civilization for themselves. Caesar must rally the troops, but Aldo views things differently, and tries to cause an ape civil war.
The mutant army from the city rolls up in three motorbikes, a jeep with a cannon and a school bus, and burns a few tree-houses. Sensing victory, they interrogate Caesar, who calls the apes to arms; the apes go on to win the battle. A sub-plot in the film involves the murder of Caesar's son by Aldo, culminating in the realisation that ape has killed ape and as a result, apes are now as dangerous - and sinful - as the humans they despise. Back to the Lawgiver giving his history lesson to both ape and human children some 600 years in the future. A nearby statue of Caesar appears to shed a tear - is it because Caesar has changed the future and apes and men live in harmony, or is it because his efforts will ultimately fail?
A deleted scene from the movie would have given the movie some real relevance to Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The cut scene involves two of the mutants who stay behind in the city (Paul Stevens and France Nuyen) to activate a doomsday bomb should Kolp and his army fail. The two mutants are about to fire off the bomb but elect not to set off the Alpha-Omega weapon as it would destroy the Earth, but instead decide to venerate it and form a religion around the bomb. This scene ties directly to the mutants found in Beneath and shows the beginnings of the House of Mendez cult.
Cast And Crew
- Roddy McDowall as Caesar
- Claude Akins as General Aldo
- Natalie Trundy as Lisa
- Severn Darden as Governor Kolp
- Lew Ayres as Mandemus
- Paul Williams as Virgil
- Austin Stoker as Bruce McDonald
- Noah Keen as Abe the Teacher
- Richard Eastham as Mutant Captain
- France Nuyen as Alma
- Paul Stevens as Mendez
- Heather Lowe as Doctor
- Bobby Porter as Cornelius
- Michael Stearns as Jake
- Cal Wilson as Soldier
- Pat Cardi as Young Chimp
- John Landis as Jake's friend
- Andy Knight as Mutant on Motorcycle
- John Huston as The Lawgiver
Supporting Cast (uncredited):
- Paula Crist ... Girl in Corral
- James Bacon ... Ape
- David Gerrold ... Chimp
- Dominique Green ... Female Ape
- Jimmy Gambina ... Orangutan
- Unknown ... Mutant Workers
- Sam Maronie ... Mutant Technician
- Paul Stader ... Stunt Coordinator
- Roydon Clark ... Stunts
- Erik Cord ... Stunts
- Paula Crist ... Stunts
- Nick Dimitri ... Stunts
- Orwin Harvey ... Stunts
- Robert Prohaska ... Stunts
- Dick Durock ... Stunts
- Whitey Hughes ... Stunts
- Hubie Kerns ... Stunts
- Hubie Kerns Jr. ... Stunts
- Regis Parton ... Stunts
- Victor Paul ... Stunts
- Allen Pinson ... Stunts
- Thomas Rosales Jr ... Stunts
- Wally Rose ... Stunts
- Jesse Wayne ... Stunts
- Lightning Bear ... Stunts
- Steven Burnett ... Stunts
- Richard E. Butler ... Stunts
- Mickey Caruso ... Stunts
- Bennie E. Dobbins ... Stunts
- Russ Dodson ... Stunts
- Larry Duran ... Stunts
- Eddie Hice ... Stunts
- Larry Holt ... Stunts
- Denver Mattson ... Stunts
- Troy Melton ... Stunts
- Regina Parton ... Stunts
- Glenn Randall Jr. ... Stunts
- Alex Sharp ... Stunts
- Felix Silla ... Stunts
- Eddie Smith ... Stunts
- Richard Washington ... Stunts
- Chuck Waters ... Stunts
- Fred M. Waugh ... Stunts
- The embyonic Ape City was built among a cluster of oak trees on the Fox ranch in Malibu, California - the setting for much of the first two Apes movies and also for the following year's Apes TV series.
- The 'Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant' in Playa Del Rey, California was employed as the underground tunnel system of the mutant city.
- Nearby sand dunes - first filmed for Rudolph Valentino's The Sheik in 1921 - were used for the Forbidden Zone desert traversed by Caesar and by the mutant army. The same sand dunes featured in the opening credits for The Monkees TV series, while the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant was used in the band's 1968 movie Head.
- Producer ... Arthur P. Jacobs
- Associate Producer ... Frank Capra Jr.
- Unit Production Manager ... Michael S. Glick
- Script ... Paul Dehn, John William Corrington & Joyce Hooper Corrington
- Director ... J. Lee Thompson
- Assistant Director ... Ric Rondell, Barry Stern
- Director of Photography ... Richard H. Kline
- Editor ... John C. Horger, Alan L. Jaggs
- Music ... Leonard Rosenman
- Sound ... Herman Lewis, Don Bassman
- Make Up ... Dan Striepeke, Joe DiBella, Jack Barron, Werner Keppler, Ken Chase
- Hair ... Carol Pershing
- Costumes ... Wally Harton
- Creative Makeup Design ... John Chambers (make-up supervision)
- Special Mechanical Effects ... Gerald Endler
- Special Photographic Effects ... L.B. Abbott
- Art Directors ... Dale Hennesy
- Set Decorators ... Robert De Vestel
- Title Designer ... Don Record
- The 'Alpha-Omega Bomb' scenes in Battle were removed from the officially-released version in 1973 (Why they were removed has never been fully explained). The scenes were restored for TV broadcasts in 1975, but did not receive an official release until included on a Japanese Laserdisc (in the early ‘90s) and on North American-region DVDs in 2006.
- Battle was later adapted into a novelization by writer David Gerrold.
- General Aldo suggests re-naming 'Ape City' as 'Gorilla City' after he drives off the mutants, just before his own fall.
- The Lawgiver is speaking in the year 2670. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the opening scene of the first movie began in 2673 with Taylor musing on what has happened back on Earth in his absence.
- The Lawgiver also says he is speaking "some 600 years after Caesar's death", giving a vague idea of when that death took place.
- Co-writers John William Corrington & Joyce Hooper Corrington in their first draft story outline (4 September 1972), said that "The perspective given us by the prologue-epilogue frame indicates that Caesar has some success since an integrated ape-human society is awaiting the coming of Taylor, but the question of the planet's ultimate destiny is left open." However, Paul Dehn, who wrote the final draft of the screenplay is quoted, in the book Planet of the Apes Revisited by Joe Russo, stating that the tear on the statue of Caesar at the end of the film is to tell the audience that Caesar's good intentions will ultimately fail.
- The year in which Battle is set has been the subject of some debate. While Planet and Beneath both gave definite (if contradictory) years, and Escape was set in 1973, Conquest was clearly set in 1991. Battle, however, was much more vague. The characters who reappeared from the previous film hadn't aged much; the outline for the story that became the movie was set in 2000; Mendez says there has been 12 years of peace. The Blu-ray set's timeline says that this film takes place in 2004. On the other hand, Mandemus claims the Ape City armory has been his home for twenty-seven years, implying that the Ape settlement has been there that long. To allow for this claim, Rich Handley's Planet of the Apes Timeline places the movie's events in 2020.
- In Paul Dehn's earliest outline for Beneath the Planet of the Apes - the first of his story arc - he had already mapped out the background of the Ape Planet: "When the last Atom Bomb exploded in up-state New York (circ. 1995) and huge earth-subsidences buried New York City, the few thousand survivors on the surface went underground in the hope of avoiding or at least minimising the genetic effects of radioactivity. It took only the misshapen birth of the next generation for this hope to be proved false." The same outline also described "...a long corridor, lined with statues... We end on Mendez I - a normal, handsome, strong-jawed, military-moustached, grizzle-haired soldier in the 20th century uniform of a five-star US General. The date: 1997 - B.3." Dehn didn't clarify the significance of the date, though it likely suggested that 1997 was three years after the bomb ('B'). His first draft screenplay from some months later kept the same date in its description of Mendez I.
Behind the Scenes
The Battle for the Planet of the Apes
The movie designed to be the final chapter in the long-running Apes saga went through a number of revisions before it was revealed to the public. Director J. Lee Thompson returned, having directed the preceding film, but producer Arthur P. Jacobs made it clear this movie would have a very different tone: "Right from the start Arthur said 'We're going to make a kid picture, and something that will appeal to families'. We had no real political implications, it was simply a kid's science fiction film." Rumours of "one more feature film" were mentioned to reporters on the set of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes as early as February 1972, with speculation that it would 'sew up' the saga by closing with Charlton Heston's arrival on the ape-dominated Earth. In fact, the first draft story outline, dated 5 July 1972, was submitted only six days after the premier of Conquest. It was written by Paul Dehn (as were the three preceding films), and titled The Battle for the Planet of the Apes. It was clearly intended to bring the saga full-circle and set up the events of Planet of the Apes.
Set in 'Modern City' - the same city as in Conquest.. (this name for the city is used in all versions of the script, including the final one) - in 2004 A.D., the opening scene is of human workers going about their early-morning tasks, reminiscent of the situation of the apes in Conquest.. - human males dressed in red uniforms, human females in blue. Some of the human servants are cleaning an imposing statue of 'Caesar I'. Nearby, a flag is unfurled representing the new ape society - a yellow background with the head of an ape (Caesar) rising from symbolically blood-red flames. Caesar is in a futuristic dressing-room with his human valet George, being prepared for his public, while MacDonald (the character from Conquest..) is by his side, wearing his own clothes, unlike other humans. Caesar refers to MacDonald as his servant. They are all preparing for a very special occasion in the city.
Caesar, with MacDonald, goes to address the Council, consisting of three chimps led by the young, intellectual, idealistic Pan; three gorillas led by Aldo; and two orangutans led by Zeno who hold the balance of power between the other two factions. Caesar makes a speech to the council announcing the thirteenth anniversary of 'The Night of Fires' - his glorious revolution. He tells them that 90% of mankind is now under ape control, with only pockets of human resistance to the north. A conversation ensues where MacDonald suggests humans should be entitled to a seat on the council; almost all the apes reject his proposal.
Proceeding to Breck's former Civic Center to address the "Citizens of Ape City", the Councilors pass by the general populace - gorillas dressed in black, chimps in green, orangutans in orange-brown. In a playground a female human called Lindy teaches a group of ape children. Suddenly, a human dressed in an old-style suit steps in front of the procession from a public lavatory. When he is asked why he is not wearing the correct attire, he challenges Caesar's right to pass such a law, and further threatens to destroy the city if the apes attempt to harm him.
Taken away to be interviewed by Aldo, Caesar and MacDonald, the stranger reveals he has come as a messenger from someone called 'Nimrod' who has the means to destroy the city if his messenger is harmed. Meanwhile, in a tent to the far north, Nimrod ("a grizzled giant by John Wayne out of Royal Dano" according to the outline), dressed in the battered uniform of a US Army General, listens to the conversation with two aides, while outside a number of humans work on a vast array of old cars and other vehicles. Aldo orders gorilla guard Brutus to begin to torture the stranger but he finds a hidden microphone. Furious, and without any qualms, Caesar orders the stranger shot dead.
Realising the consequences, Caesar orders an ape evacuation of the city to the human-built bunkers underground, with any remaining space to be allocated to only the most useful humans. Lisa is forced to choose between her two human maids, Mary and Anna. The humans listen to the public broadcasts as the chosen few are summoned to the underground entrance at Caesar Avenue & Armando Street - Clement (Clem), a veterinarian now known as a doctor to the apes, Bradford (Brad), a carpenter, Melinda (Lindy), the teacher, Alexander (Lex), a psychiatrist, etc. Lisa looks away as Anna is given entry but Mary is turned away. Lex ruefully says goodbye to his room-mate Frank, a radio technician, but Frank suddenly strangles Lex and takes his identity disc, desperate to survive. The humans left behind form a mob and begin looting the empty city, some breaking into a bank vault in search of money.
Nimrod's two aides are pilots who fly their worn old plane with its nuclear missile towards the city, their mission is probably one-way judging by the state of their plane and the amount of fuel they carried. They drop the bomb not knowing if they will be able to clear the explosion. A silent but blinding explosion of light levels the city and everything in its path as a mushroom cloud stretches into the sky.
Some months later, radiation scarred humans scavenge the remains of the city for food. They find their way into the bunkers the apes had fled to, now abandoned (these, we are told, are the ancestors of the mutants from Beneath..). An elderly religious school supervisor, 'Mother Agnes', leads a group of bedraggled children on a trek to search for a sanctuary. A child called Matilda finds a blade of grass, and they take hope. They meet the survivors who had been in the bank vault, led by Jud. They all head north to find other humans, but all are captured by a gorilla patrol, except for a man called Danny who hides in a nearby cave. There he meets Frank/Lex conspiring with a scarred mutant about the situation among the apes leaders. Caesar trusts 'Lex', not knowing he is an imposter and is plotting against him.
Nearby, a new Ape City is being built by human slaves, the arena from Beneath.. is being hewn from the rock, and a newly-agricultural society has developed around it. They have found the need to be self-sufficient. Caesar is suffering from terrible headaches, possibly caused by the same brain-expanding condition which afflicted the chimp Nero in Armando's circus. His human advisors suggest helping him rest by injecting him with pentothal (as was his mother). Lisa gives birth to Caesar's child (she was already newly-pregnant at the time of the bombing), who they name 'Cornelius Armando'. Sensing an opportunity, 'Lex' switches the labels on the doctor's medicines, and when doctor injects the weakened Lisa, shortly after giving birth, with the wrong medicine, she dies. In the confusion, 'Lex' grabs the baby and runs away. Aldo orders his cavalry to find 'Lex'; his police to arrest the doctor; and his infantry to herd all the other humans into their compound. Lex takes the baby to the mutant's cave ("Mutantville"), radios Nimrod and is told that Nimrod's forces are heading south in their makeshift convoy to meet them and finish the war against the apes.
In the bunkers under Modern City, a mutated couple look after the baby chimp, treating it like their own deceased child. Furious with rage and grief, Caesar proposes cutting out the tongues of all humans to end their conspiring - to the horror of Pan, the reluctant agreement of Zeno, and the enthusiasm of Aldo. Zeno studies anatomical charts with a young, personable female orangutan called Zaia ("possibly an ancestress of Dr Zaius"). They discuss humane ways of making humans mute, but decide lobotomising the humans would remove their usefulness; surgically severing the vocal chords would be of more value. Outside, the cavalry commander reports back to Aldo and Caesar that they have failed to find 'Lex' or the baby, and called off the search because of a huge, moving dust cloud to the north. MacDonald, the doctor, and Aldo, in that order, realise there might be more significance to the moving cloud.
Having delivered the baby chimp to it's new guardians in Modern City, 'Lex' visits the armoury where Danny, a gunsmith by trade, is now supervising the creation of missiles and weapons by a workforce of horribly mutated humans. The two remark on the fact that they are the only 'humans' in the city.
Threatened that an untrained Zaia would cause unnecessary pain and injury to her patients, the doctor prepares to demonstrate the vocal chord procedure on a human volunteer - MacDonald. Meanwhile, the coffin that Brad has built for Lisa has secretly been fitted with a transmitter. As Caesar says goodbye to Lisa by the graveside, alone, 'her' voice whispers to him and tells him to let the humans go free for the sake of their son's safety. He runs to the surgery and order a halt just in time to save MacDonald. But Aldo and Zeno believe Caesar has lost his mind and become unreliable. Aldo draws his gun to shoot him, but MacDonald jumps into the path of the bullet, dying. A second shot from Aldo kills Caesar.
Almost immediately, Nimrod's army invades the settlement. His first missiles destroy the human compound - deliberately, because they are 'collaborators'. The few human survivors, including the group of children, flee to the nearby mutant cave, while Aldo leads the defense in a great battle somewhere between Modern City and Ape City. From the cave mouth, Danny launches a missile device at the ape army which does not explode, but his mutant colleague tells the apes that the nerve gas within will make them all sterile. The apes withdraw, fearful of the consequences for the future. Nimrod greets the mutant leader in the cave and tells him that his real name is General Mendez (a footnote says "we met Mendez XXVII in Apes II"). The mutant reveals that in truth the missile was empty.
Back at the Ape City, Zeno and Aldo announce that they will hereafter be joint rulers and that the area infected by the missile will be a 'Forbidden Zone' for the sake of the survival of the ape races. Zeno also begins a series of anti-human proclamations, the basis of the 'Sacred Scrolls' (it is revealed that Zeno will become 'The Lawgiver' from Planet..). The human and mutant survivors remain in the cave system and make it their home. Out of the cave mouth, Matilda and the other children release baby Cornelius to fend for himself in the wilderness.
Epic of the Planet of the Apes
Dehn's script didn't satisfy his employers and due to illness, as with Pierre Boulle and Rod Serling before him, Dehn was sidelined in favour of new writers John William Corrington & Joyce Hooper Corrington. Their first draft story outline, dated 4 September 1972, and titled Epic of the Planet of the Apes, was basically the story we are now familiar with as the finished movie, although some of the outline notes give interesting background information that doesn't appear elsewhere, including the setting of the main part of the film in the year 2000 and a fairly clear-cut statement about the series divergent continuity.
The prologue and epilogue of the movie are set in North America, 2670 A.D. The Lawgiver is now benevolent towards humans (as opposed to the anti-human fanatic suggested in Planet.. and Beneath..) - "this difference is due to alterations of that historical track which we have seen worked out in previous films...these changes in ape history are due primarily to the influence of Caesar on apes and humans".
Flashback to 1991: Caesar leads an exodus of apes and humans from 'Modern City' in the aftermath of his successful rebellion. Ape uprisings and general world tensions have led to nuclear devastation which Caesar's band narrowly escapes.
Forward to 2000 A.D. (according to this script): The rural Ape City contrasts with melted and devastated Modern City, which glows with radioactivity at night. Tunnels and the 'Command Post' from Conquest.. survive largely intact underground. Caesar and Lisa have a six-year-old son called Cornelius (or 'Conny'). Breck still controls the former city, assisted by Mendez, an electronics expert and his communications officer, and Alma, who has primitive psionic powers (towards the end of the film she senses when Breck has died), black hair streaked with white ("towards albinism of 'Beneath'"), and is Breck's secretary. Caesar hears his father's taped voice refer to Aldo as the leader of an ape rebellion and decides to alter history and prepare for Taylor's arrival.
At the conclusion of this outline, Caesar is killed by a fatal shot from Aldo; the Lawgiver of Caesar's future resembles Virgil (his descendent?); and while he gives his lesson, an ape and a human child fight, goaded on by their respective species, in stark contrast to the Lawgiver's message of peace.
"The main premise of 'Epic' is that Caesar, discovering the tapes ...determines that the course of history must be changed such that when Taylor arrives two millenia later he will find peace and justice instead of the slavery and brutality of 'Planet' which led directly to the atomic destruction of the world by the doomsday bomb.... The perspective given us by the prologue-epilogue frame indicates that Caesar has some success since an integrated ape-human society is awaiting the coming of Taylor, but the question of the planet's ultimate destiny is left open."
Battle for the Planet of the Apes
At some point in late 1972 it seems the movie was briefly given the title Colonization of the Planet of the Apes, as noted on countless websites. Final revisions were made between December 1972 and January 1973, in which Dehn's name reappeared. Having recovered from his illness, he is reported to have re-written what the Corringtons had envisaged; the end result a hybrid of the two concepts. The script, however, changed little from the Corrington's previous version, but a few more nuggets of information can be found in these revisions to the newly-renamed Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
'Ape City' is to the north of 'Modern City'. London, Rome, Athens, Rio, Moscow, Tokyo and Peking were all destroyed much the same as 'Modern City'. Caesar points out "the city was flattened. The bomb left nothing" to which MacDonald counters "...except (I suspect) the Archives section - indeed many sections of the underground city were designed to survive the impact of a ten megaton overblast." This suggests they haven't seen the city since before it was destroyed (unlike Dehn's treatment in which they hid in the bunkers beneath the city until it was safe to leave). The mutant Control Center is the former Ape Management Center used by City Governor Breck (note the term 'City Governor' rather than State Governor). Kolp is assisted by Alma, his communications officer, and Mendez, his first lieutenant "who will one day be the first in the mutant dynasty that ends with Mendez XXVI in 'Beneath'" (this corrects the mistake in Dehn's treatment, above, which names that character 'Mendez XXVII'). Mendez says there has been 12 years of peace; Kolp and Alma have worked together for 11 years and 3 months - they kiss before Kolp departs on his invasion.
In a scene which didn't make it into the film but did appear in the Marvel Comics adaptation, MacDonald, the teacher and the doctor eat a bootleg rabbit in MacDonald's house, with a chair against the door and blankets on the window to hide the aroma - Caesar has forbidden humans from eating meat.
The scenes involving the Alpha-Omega Bomb survived the script revisions and were ultimately filmed, only to be excised in the final cut released in 1973, before being restored for North American commercial releases in 2006.
Filming began on January 2, 1973 and wrapped 43 days later on February 14, with a budget somewhere between $1.2 million and $1.8 million. Marvel Comics reporter Sam Maronie counted himself lucky to have won a minor role in an Ape film while on assignment: "It all started near the end of December, 1972, while I was vacationing in Los Angeles. I spent a memorable day visiting the 20th Century-Fox studios in Century City, hunting up some interesting copy for the newspaper for which I write. I was well aware at the time that the newest of the annual Apes series, 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes', was to commence shooting in the next few days, and I was determined to find out as much about the forthcoming Ape adventure as possible. I sought out my friend, Jack Hirschberg of APJAC Productions, to see if I could obtain his permission to tag along with the cast and crew for a few days of shooting. Hirschberg not only consented to my desire to watch the production company at work, but offered me a small part in the film as an extra. Of course, I accepted immediately. The prospect of appearing in a genuine Hollywood production was exciting enough, but to act in one of the Apes films, which I had admired for so long, made the proposal that much more interesting - I couldn’t have chosen a more enjoyable assignment if they would have asked me.
I had grandiose visions of reporting for work at a bustling Hollywood sound stage in Fox's modern production complex. My images were shattered when I learned that we were to be filming on location - and at a sewage treatment plant, no less! Understandably, I was somewhat disappointed - and very puzzled - at such a bizarre choice for a movie location. Yet once I learned how the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant located on the outskirts of LA figured into the context of the story, my curiosity was more than satisfied. The twisting pipes and winding catacombs of the facility were to represent the underground domain of the mutants - decaying subhuman survivors of earth's atomic war, who featured prominently in the film. The eerie dark passageways and the filth-encrusted machinery of the actual treatment facility resembled the aftermath of atomic warfare more realistically than could be duplicated on any studio set. Filming a movie 'on location' necessitates hauling along a veritable studio on wheels. Power generators, dressing rooms, and equipment trucks are just a few items which must be close at hand for the company's ready use. When I arrived at the Hyperion complex, my first stop was the make-up trailer, where I was instructed to report for my cosmetic treatment. Once there, several make-up men commenced transforming me from man to mutant. The 'call' for ape extras was several days hence, as they were now principally engaged in shooting scenes only with the mutant actors, so I had to settle for a mutant role. But for the opportunity to appear in one of the Planet of the Apes movies, I would have been more than happy to play a wall. There was no excuse for me to be fussy.
Strips of thin plastic and assorted chemical solutions known only to the make-up wizards were applied to my face to achieve a scarred, decaying look - as if the flesh had been burned and blistered from the atomic blast. As this film took place before Beneath the Planet of the Apes'', in the Simian Chronology, the mutants were only just beginning their hideous decomposure. Their degeneration was not as advanced as the totally-disfigured inhabitants featured in 'Beneath'. As I sat in the chair during the hour-and-a-half process, my eyes wandered about the room, taking in all the mysterious and wonderful tools of the make-up artist's trade. Plastic model heads were adorned with various wigs and other furry appliances that star Roddy McDowall and co-ape Paul Williams would soon don. The specially moulded latex appliances were lying at the ready for the cosmeticians to go to work. Many of the crew on hand were veterans of previous Ape films and spoke highly of John Chambers’ talent and work in developing the realistic appliances.
After the laborious session, my next visit was to the wardrobe trailer next door. What does the well-dressed mutant wear? Flashy robes ala Flash Gordon? Perhaps a colourful costume such as many of Marvel’s long underwear heroes sport? Wrong on both counts. Instead of any of the stylish finery, my costume was regulated to a simple pair of dingy grey overalls, gloves, and close-fitting skull-cap. Not too spectacular of garb for the everyday post-nuclear war survivor, to say the least! The wardrobe man, a likable fellow by the name of Wally Harton, shook out my clothes before handing them to me. Noticing my puzzled expression, he explained the curious ritual: “It‘s a habit I acquired after working on 'The Great White Hope' out in the desert. Each morning I had to shake out the costumes, as many times we’d find scorpions, lizards, and other desert life that would find its way into the clothing”. The traveling wardrobe department was a film fan's paradise. There were racks of the familiar green jackets such as Roddy McDowell and the other chimps wore: the orange vest-type outfits that the orangutans sported, as well as the militaristic battle gear of the warrior gorillas. Shoes moulded in the shape of ape feet were piled high in a variety of colours and sizes. When I made a derogatory remark about the drabness of the mutant wardrobe, Wally told me that the design came about after several conferences with the producers, writers, and other production people. A careful study was made of the point in time this film took place in the Ape History, the advancement of the mutant population, their living conditions, etc. The costumes were purposely supposed to look dirty and drab - exactly fitting the characters’ personalities.
Finally outfitted for my role, I high-tailed it back to the make-up trailer. Roddy and Paul were to arrive shortly, and I was determined to meet the two actors and watch the famous make-up procedure first hand. Roddy McDowall looked anything but a glamorous movie star as he lay wearily sprawled in a chair while one of the make-up men applied the first stages of the Ape face. A crew member introduced me to the British actor, and all the tired performer could manage was to mutter a weak “hello” in acknowledgement through the thick appliances. It was little wonder that McDowall was so beat. He had an 8:00 a.m. set call, which meant that he had to be at the studio by 5 a.m. for his 3-hour ordeal, in order to be made up and ready to shoot in time. He clutched a portable cassette tape recorder that played classical music. Chatting with the actor later that day, I was told that this was one way he “psyched himself up” for the long cosmetic process. After spending some time watching the magical transformation from actor to ape, I decided to visit the set where today's scenes would be shot, and report for duty. Making my way through the maze which comprises the lower levels of the Hyperion Plant, I found the crew engaged in shooting a scene between Severn Darden (as the slightly-bananas mutant leader, Kolp) and actress France Nuyen who plays his equally-mad feminine second-in-command, Alma. Darden and Nuyen were walking along a winding corridor as the camera followed them. They were discussing possible alternatives if the Ape army should attack their underground refuge. During mid-sentence a tremendous ROOOAAAARRR!!!!! sounded throughout the set, rendering actors’ words unintelligible. You see, the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant is adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport, and the constant take-offs and landings from the busy terminal were wreaking havoc with the film’s sound track. Director J. Lee Thompson (also of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes'') called for a cut, and the scene was reshot. At approximately the same point in the conversation, another plane roar erupted, destroying part of the dialogue. But instead of calling for another halt in filming, Thompson let the actors finish the scene, “We‘ll just dub it in at the studio”, one of the sound men said once the sequence was over. In Fox’s recording department, the actors would view footage of themselves and match newly-spoken words to the obscured sound track. If such a procedure involves 'Ape' performers, they must don their make-up to match the same sound as their simian film images. Anyway you look at it, re-recording is a pain in the neck! Alert readers who may not recall such a scene in the release print of 'Battle' need not blame it on a faulty memory, for this scene - and many other sequences which I saw shot that day never did make it to the final film, winding up on the cutting room floor! David Gerrold's paperback novelization of the film, published by Award Books, follows the original shooting script more closely, recreating some of those lost moments, thereby eliminating a lot of confusion which was contained in the movie. You can imagine that if it was thrilling enough to see one of the Ape films in production, what an added treat it was to view - and act in - scenes that never made it into the completed movie.
During the time before the next shot, I was free to examine the sets at close range. One section of the underground complex was the mutant's 'Missile Control Room' - never seen in the film, only referred to. This contained the Alpha/Omega nuclear warhead seen in 'Beneath' (which eventually blew the planet to kingdom come!), and several mock computer consoles. Many of these props were the same used in such shows as 'Lost In Space', 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea', and other 20th Century-Fox films. They were not in their usual state of flashing coloured lights; rather they were inoperative and covered with a thick layer of studio-applied dust and dirt to simulate decades of non-use. Scattered rubble and debris, coupled with the rotting surroundings of the facility, gave the room a truly 'bombed out' decor. Another set was an office area where the mutants carried out their minimum of research work, sifting through the ill-kept records of their human ancestors. This location was also never seen in the final cut. Another section represented the 'Archives Room', littered with tapes and other video records of the former human civilization. It was on this set that the next scenes were to be shot. Amid the chaos of moving the equipment to the new location, I spotted director J. Lee Thompson pacing up and down the floor of one of the deserted sets, like a caged tiger. One of the technicians noticed me looking in Thompson's direction and warned: “Don't bother him when he does that - it means he‘s thinking and doesn't want to be disturbed”. I heeded his warning. Soon, the assistant director rounded up all us mutants to run through our scene. I became so engrossed in the briefing that I didn't quite watch where I was standing, and bumped into someone behind me. When I turned quickly to excuse myself, I came face-to-face with an Ape - Roddy McDowall in fact, made up and costumed as the familiar character of Caesar, the pacifist leader of the ape community. “Pardon me!” came the unmistakable British accent through the simian appliances. I couldn't help remarking to myself how strange it was that after seeing all of the 'Planet of the Apes' movies and hundreds of photos, that it really didn't seem so odd to watch articulate apes walking about the set, cutting up with members of the crew and sipping soft drinks through straws. It seemed the most normal thing in the world!
Soon all was in readiness for filming and Roddy, Paul Williams, and actor Austin Stoker (who played the Apes' human friend) took their places in the Archives Room. In this particular shot, Roddy was supposed to be viewing a videotape of his parents’ testimony at a Senate Investigating Committee in l973, (originally seen in Escape from the Planet of the Apes'). The scene was shot with Roddy reacting to a blank TV screen, over which the film was supposed to have been playing. As a film clip from 'Escape' would he inserted later, in the Special Effects Department, one of the men offstage was reading the film clip dialogue so that Roddy's comments and reactions would correspond to the film. Satisfied with the scene after a few takes, Thompson called a break for lunch, as it was by now well past noon. It was during the halt in production that I spoke with the English director. I asked Thompson if he felt ridiculed by his colleagues for making films about articulate simians. “Why should I?” he replied coolly. “These certainly are better movies than a lot of my friends are making now. You see, people can't accept the idea of intelligent animals, but scientists are doing this right now - teaching apes to perform certain tasks. Who knows where this will lead in 20-30 years?” I deemed it wise not to pursue the point any further. McDowall relaxed in a chair off the set, using the free time to make notes in his script while sipping a can of orange juice through a long straw. One of the crew members approached the actor and asked if Roddy would mind posing for a photo with the guy's little boy, who stood a respectful distance away. McDowall agreed, and when the boy's father nodded a 'go ahead', the youngster ran to Roddy at top speed and flung his arms around the actor's hairy neck, hugging him for all he was worth, while the photographer focused his camera. McDowall's look of surprise was obvious, even through the heavy make-up.
After lunch, it was back to the Missile Room set, and time for me to make my movie debut. The script called for a dramatic confrontation between Alma, who is about to unleash the nuclear warhead against the Ape populace, and Mendez (played by actor Paul Stevens of 'Patton'), who advocates a peaceful solution to the problem. In my capacity as 'mutant technician', I functioned no more than as window-dressing; standing in the background watching the control panels, trying to look as intent in my work as possible. Again, many Ape-ophiles may not recall such a scene. The whole subplot of the missile was excised in the editing stages - a mistake which many felt hurt the intelligibility of the film (as well as ruining my chance for superstardom!). It took a while to shoot this particular sequence. It was a key point in the original story, and great care was given to get the necessary dramatic impact. Also, the never-ceasing roar of the airport helped matters little, interfering with concentration on the part of the actors and crew, thus it was some time before everything was completed to perfection. The next time I saw Roddy McDowall, he was in his human alter-ego. I couldn't help noting how ironic the situation was: it took longer for Roddy to get in and out of his make-up than it did to shoot his scenes for the day. That's Hollywood for you. My Missile Room shot was the last scene for that day - the 'wrap' - and thus closed my exciting adventure “Behind the Cameras of the Apes”; I will remember it for the rest of my life. You can imagine my extreme consternation when, on assembling a personal cheering section for the premiere of 'Battle' in St. Louis, I recognized only the scenes with McDowall. My friends began to wonder if I had been putting them on, and only the photos I brought back as souvenirs saved my reputation. Hollywood may have passed me by this time, but perhaps someday I'll have my second chance - regardless, I'm glad that I had this opportunity!"
Reporter Mike Jahn "spoke with Paul Williams, the pop singer, who was filled with stories of the wonder of his first major acting assignment: playing an orangutan in the film Battle for the Planet of the Apes. During the shooting, Mr. Williams rose at 3:30 a.m., then stayed in makeup for three hours. During one such session, the makeup man, Kenny Chase, began discussing at length the merits of what was the favorite drink of both of them, the margarita. "He drove me crazy talking about margaritas," Mr. Williams said. "By noon I couldn’t take it anymore. I was really freaked out. I grabbed Kenny and pulled him into my car." The car was a 1935 Bugati, "not an inconspicuous car in any case, but here is this Bugati driving down Pico Boulevard at lunchtime with an orangutan behind the wheel. We drove to the Casa Escabar and went inside. Kenny took me by the arm and went up to the maitre d’. He asked him, ‘Can we have a table in a dark corner? We want to be alone.’""
Writer David Gerrold, adapting a novelization of the movie to be released simultaneously, was given a role as a background chimp during filming of the battle scenes. In February 1973, he was on set at the Fox Ranch where they were filming the mutants' school-bus-led invasion and the blowing-up of a tree-house, later recalling, "I wasn't in any close-ups. I ended up being a dead body in one shot."
- The final Apes film was the one with the lowest budget and the least effects. There was only one glass painting - used twice - picturing the destroyed city ('San Francisco', according to one source).
- The production was unable to use the still-standing Ape City from the previous films, as it didn't fit with the screenplay. An arboreal, tree-dwelling community was designed to suit the new storyline. Crude huts for the human slaves and other livestock added to the agrarian habitat. After completing work on the simian Shangri-la, a special effects team leveled the structures to the ground in the explosive-filled battle between the apes and the disfigured 'mutant' army.
- A bizarre site for filming was the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant, a winding, labyrinthine series of dark corridors and passageways located near the beautiful Plaza Del Ray Beach in Los Angeles. This facility represented the underground headquarters of the mutants. The main problem was posed by the temperature - it got blamed cold down there; maybe that's why Roddy McDowall caught the flu, which was a major discomfort for the actor. Also, the continual noise generated from arriving and departing flights at nearby Los Angeles International Airport wreaked havoc with the film's sound-track, most of which had to be re-dubbed at the studio.
- A nearby field of sand dunes (originally a location in the 1921 production of The Shiek with Rudolph Valentino) represented the area between the Ape Village and the Mutant City crossed by McDonald (Austin Stoker), Virgil (Paul Williams) and Caesar (Roddy McDowall) in search of the mutant stronghold.
- The field of rubble which represented the remains of a destroyed city was assembled (with the help of some matte paintings) on the 20th Century-Fox lot, as were interior sets of the ape and human domiciles.
- The mutant population still wore the monochrome uniforms seen in 'Conquest', but now dusty and tattered - symbolic of their new status.
- A short Planet of the Apes parody sketch was featured on the CBS light entertainment show The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in the early 1970s. Although the exact date of recording is unclear, the authentic gorilla costumes and make-up may suggest a cross-over with filming of Battle... in early 1973.
- "Go Ape for a Day" film marathons - showing all five Apes movies back-to-back - were staged as a promotional tool in such cities as San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Dallas, New York City (where the Embassy Theatre repeated it two additional times during the second week of the movie) and Los Angeles. In LA, an "ape-picketing" stunt was staged in front of the Hollywood Cinema in Hollywood and the Beverly Theatre in Beverly Hills, where ape-like figures carried clever signs, some of which read: "Apes Opt for Equal Opportunity"; "No Watergate in Simian Society"; "Arthur P. Jacobs Unfair to Apes". In Lincoln, Nebraska, the "Ape-A-Thon" was promoted with a July 3 air jump at Treasure City Shopping Center by members of the Lincoln Sport Parachute Club.
- Sam Jaffe was originally signed as the Lawgiver, but turned down the role when he discovered he would have to shave off his eight-year-old beard in order to accommodate the ape facial appliances. He was replaced with the similarly-bearded, but more willing, John Huston. Jaffe was mistakenly listed as playing the Lawgiver in a magazine article published shortly after the completion of filming.
- In the Planet of the Apes movie from 1968, there is a reference to this movie about the bombing.
- Early scripts for Battle intended MacDonald to be the same character as in Conquest, but actor Hari Rhodes wasn't available for filming at the time. Instead, the role was given to Austin Stoker - playing his brother - who was apparently a last-minute replacement. Stoker met producer Arthur P. Jacobs & director J. Lee Thompson on 31 December 1972 and was on set on 2 January 1973. "I thought to myself, I've always known acting is a volatile profession, but this is ridiculous... Fortunately we started with physical sequences and didn't get into the dramatics until some time later." A subsequent script revision included (the younger) MacDonald's line: "when the bomb dropped on the city and Caesar heard of my brother's death he said 'my heart is torn.'"
- John Landis, the director of Animal Farm, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, etc., has a tiny part.
- Noah Keen was injured in a car accident when his "small foreign car" was broadsided by a Cadillac as he was leaving the set of Battle. He suffered bruises and a few broken teeth.
- In a scene early in the movie script, MacDonald uses the phrase "I could eat a horse", to which Lisa, taking him literally, responds "If horses, why not hippos? Where did you draw the line?" According to the San Simian Sentinel (promotional newspaper distributed free to first-run viewers of Battle), Lisa actually said "If horses, why not hippies? Where did you draw the line?" However, while this may have been in the original theatrical version, DVD releases have omitted Lisa's line of dialogue.
- One explosion on the Fox ranch set (during the battle scene) was so gigantic that a motorist several miles away reported a plane crash to the authorities.
- Mikko was the name of a young chimpanzee in Battle (?)
- F-6 was the code designation for the corridor that Caesar, Virgil and MacDonald 'invaded' the dead city through. The Archives Section was near Breck's old Command Post. It's address, revealed in David Gerrold's novelisation, was an in-joke; located on 'Ackerman Street', with the correct vault numbered 4SJ, - long the signature of well-known SF & Horror authority Forrest J. Ackerman.
- The movie was billed as "The Final Chapter", and in Italy was released under the title Anno 2670 - Ultimo Atto ("Year 2670 - The Final Act"), leaving little likelihood of a further sequel even without the untimely death of producer Arthur P. Jacobs, who was at the time developing the Apes concept for TV. A writer in a 1975 fanzine compiled a timeline of the Apes movies continuity and finished by saying, "There is a lot of room for endless speculation and a multitude of new films. A film is definitely called for here. Maybe the new film, 'The Secret on the Planet of the Apes' will provide an answer." It's not clear if the author was speculating on what could be done with a new film, or if he actually believed a new movie by this name was being developed. 'The Secret of the Planet of the Apes' had been a working title in the early stages of production of Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Salvation for the Planet of the Apes was the title given to a potential sixth Apes film to be independently produced in 1976 at Orange Coast College and featuring Paula Crist and Bill Blake, with a storyline designed to tie-up loose-ends from the various sequels.
Lawgiver: In the beginning, God created beast and man, so that both might live in friendship and share dominion over a world at peace. But in the fullness of time, evil men betrayed God's trust and, in disobedience to His holy word, waged bloody wars...not only against their own kind, but against the apes, whom they reduced to slavery. Then God, in His wrath, sent the world a savior, miraculously born of two apes who had descended on Earth from Earth's own future. And man was afraid, for both parent apes possessed the power of speech. So both were brutally murdered. But the child ape survived and grew up to set his fellow creatures free from the yoke of human slavery. Yet, in the aftermath of his victory, the surface of the world was ravaged by the vilest war in human history. The great cities of the world split asunder and were flattened. And out of one such city, our savior led a remnant of those who survived in search of greener pastures, where ape and human might forever live in friendship, according to divine will. His name was Caesar, and this is his story in those far-off days.
Mendez I: Governor, somewhere along the line of history, this bloody chain reaction has got to stop! A destroys B. B destroys C. C destroys A and is destroyed by D who destroys E. Before anyone knows where they are, there won't be anyone left to know anything, anywhere!
Mendez I: This is the Alpha and Omega bomb. It can destroy not only Ape City, but the entire Earth. Activate it and we become nothing. Leave it and its very presence will ensure that at least we remain something, and may become something better. It must never be exploded. It must be respected, even venerated, for one of its ancestors made us what we are. And what we are shall, from this day forward, be called beautiful.
Lawgiver: We still wait, my children. But as I look at apes and humans, living in friendship, in harmony and at peace, now some 600 years after Caesar's death, at least we wait with hope for the future.
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (novel)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Power Records)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Marvel Comic Book)
- at the
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes review
- Behind the Scenes at potacollective.com
- John Landis on Battle For The Planet Of The Apes
- Overview of the Movie by Octavio Ramos Jr.
- 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes' promotional material
- Glossary to the Planet Of The Apes Jim Whitmore (1976)
- Planet of the Apes Revisited Treatment at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive
- Behind the Planet of the Apes
- 'Planet of the Apes (UK) Issue 34' (1975)
- Planet of the Apes: 40 Year Evolution, by Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall (June 2008)
- Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive
- Ape for a Day, by Samuel James Maronie - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #23 (29 March 1975)
- It Ain't Cheetah (A Tribute to Roddy McDowall), by Mike Jahn - 'CUE' (November 18-24 1974)
- State Of The Art, by David Gerrold - 'Starlog' #7 (August 1977)
- 'Simian Scrolls #5' at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
- SFX on the Planet of the Apes, by Tom Sciacca - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #96 (18 August 1976)
- Finding the Future on the Fox Ranch!, by Sam Maronie - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #43 (16 August 1975)
- Summer Publicity Seminars Boost Fox Films - 'Boxoffice' (October 1 1973)
- Five-Feature Ape-A-Thon Precedes Final 'Planet of the Apes' Sequel - 'Boxoffice' (August 13 1973)
- Caesar's Last Stand!, by R. Allen Leider - 'The Monster Times' #24 (July 1973)
- A Chronology of the Planet of the Apes, by Nigel Brown - 'Comics Unlimited' (1975)
- Salvation for the Planet of the Apes spec reel
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|Planet of the Apes||Beneath the Planet of the Apes||Escape from the Planet of the Apes||Conquest of the Planet of the Apes||Battle for the Planet of the Apes|