- "The only thing that counts in the end is power! Naked merciless force!"
- ―General Ursus
Beneath the Planet of the Apes opens where the first film left off, with Cornelius' voice-over reminding everyone of man's blight upon the world. After a repeat of the last few minutes of the first film, the sequel kicks in with Taylor and Nova wandering through the Forbidden Zone. In the meantime, two astronauts have been sent on a mission from Earth to rescue Taylor's missing astronaut crew from the first film, and as bad luck would have it, crash-land on the planet of the apes. The year, according to the ship log, is 3955. One of the astronauts, known only as the skipper, dies, leaving John Brent (James Franciscus) to survive alone.
After burying his comrade, Brent encounters Nova, who rides alone. When he mentions Taylor to her (he sees Taylor's dog tags around her neck), Nova remembers cinematically that they encountered great fire walls and earthquakes and that Taylor fell through what appeared to be solid rock. Brent and Nova make their way to Ape City, where they encounter Cornelius (this time played by David Watson) and Zira (Kim Hunter), who help the duo. They also overhear a plan by General Ursus (James Gregory) to expand Ape City by entering the Forbidden Zone and destroying a mysterious force that affects the senses of simians.
Brent and Nova are captured by solider gorillas, but with the help of Zira they manage to escape. The duo stumble upon an underground city, where Brent discovers that they really are on Earth — in New York City. This is the dwelling of mutant humans who worship an atomic bomb and have incredible power over other human minds, and soon Brent and Nova are captured. These mutants refuse to fight or kill even in defense. But they do not hesitate to use their powers to force others to do this for them. Taylor has been captured at this underground complex and is forced to fight Brent. Having survived 'ground zero' during the nuclear holocaust in humanity’s past, the telepathic beings are horribly scarred and mutated. Moreover, they have degenerated after so many years of suffering, having established a cult that worships the ultimate weapon, a cobalt-cased nuclear weapon Taylor later labels a 'doomsday bomb.'
After an encounter with the illusions of the telepathic mutants, Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), Ursus and a gorilla army find the underground city and quickly begin to destroy what they do not understand and naturally fear. The mutants have no weapons other than illusion, so they commit mass suicide, with their leader activating the nuclear weapon. As the missile slowly rises in the air the apes try to pull it down with ropes at first but without much luck. In the end, Nova and Brent get caught up in the battle between the mutants and the apes and are killed, as is Ursus, but before he dies, Taylor in his dying act manages to detonate the atomic bomb, thus ending the war and destroying all life on planet Earth in one of the most nihilistic endings ever in science fiction.
Cast And Crew
- James Franciscus as John Brent
- Linda Harrison as Nova
- Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius
- James Gregory as Gen. Ursus
- Charlton Heston as George Taylor
- Kim Hunter as Dr. Zira
- David Watson as Dr. Cornelius
- Tod Andrews as Skipper
- Paul Richards as Mendez XXVI
- Victor Buono as Adiposo the Fat Man
- Don Pedro Colley as Ongaro the Negro
- Jeff Corey as Caspay
- Natalie Trundy as Albina
- Gregory Sierra as Verger
- Thomas Gomez as Minister
- Eldon Burke as Gorilla Sergeant
Supporting Cast (uncredited):
- Paul Frees ... Narrator
- Roddy McDowall ... Dr. Cornelius (archival footage)
- Lou Wagner ... Lucius (archival footage)
- James Bacon ... Gorilla (Bugler?)
- Bruce Fleischer ... Gorilla
- Army Archerd ... Gorilla
- Edward J. Aubry ... Chimp Protester
- Angelina Bauer ... Chimp Protester
- Maxine Botelho ... Chimp Protester
- Frisco Estes ... Chimp Protester
- Paul A. Fabian ... Chimp Protester
- Lenmana Guerin ... Chimp Protester
- Stanton (Stan) Barrett ... Stunt Gorilla
- Dick Bullock ... Stunt Gorilla
- Mickey Gilbert ... Stunt Gorilla
- Eddie Hice ... Stunt Gorilla
- Clyde (Ace) Hudkins ... Stunt Gorilla
- Dick Hudkins ... Stunt Ape
- Alan Gibbs ... Stunt Ape
- Kent Hayes ... Stunt Ape
- Gary McLarty ... Stunt Ape
- Bill Burton ... Stunt Masked Gorilla
- Gary Epper ... Stunt Masked Gorilla
- Orwin Harvey ... Stunt Masked Gorilla
- Whitey Hughes ... Stunt Masked Gorilla
- George Sawaya ... Stunt Masked Gorilla
- Walter Scott ... Stunt Masked Gorilla
- Hank Calia ... Stunt Wagon Driver
- Tap Canutt ... Stunt Double
- Tony Epper ... Stunt Double
- Terry Leonard ... Stunt Double
- Pat Thompson ... Stunt Double
- Paul Stader ... Stunt Coordinator
- Eddy Donno ... Stunts
- Loren Janes ... Stunts
- Carl Rizzo ... Stunts
- Chuck Roberson ... Stunts
- Jack Williams ... Stunts
- Calvert Botelho ... Stock Ape
- Phillip Wilson ... Stock Ape
- William Graeff, Jr. ... Stock Ape Ad Lib
- George R. Miller ... Stock Ape Ad-Lib
- Mel Pittenger ... Stock Ape Ad-Lib
- Dave Rogers ... Stock Ape Ad-Lib
- Erlynn Botelho ... Ad Lib
- Eddie Smith ... Ad Lib
- Edward Bach ... Picket (voice dubbing)
- Tim Burns ... Picket (voice dubbing)
- Judd Laurance ... Picket (voice dubbing)
- Michael Sterling ... Picket (voice dubbing)
- Wayne Storm ... Picket (voice dubbing)
- David Westberg ... Picket (voice dubbing)
- Richard Carlyle ... Soldier (voice dubbing)
- Tom Hatten ... Soldier (voice dubbing)
- John Logan ... Soldier (voice dubbing)
- Richard Wilson ... Soldier (voice dubbing)
- Denny Arnold ... Stunts
- Steven Burnett ... Stunts
- Nick Dimitri ... Stunts
- Hubie Kerns ... Stunts
- Hubie Kerns Jr. ... Stunts
- Gene LeBell ... Stunts
- Producer ... Arthur P. Jacobs
- Associate Producer ... Mort Abrahams
- Unit Production Manager ... Joseph C. Behm
- Script ... Paul Dehn, Mort Abrahams
- Director ... Ted Post
- Assistant Director ... Fred R. Simpson
- Second Unit Director ... Chuck Roberson
- Director of Photography ... Milton Krasner
- Editor ... Marion Rothman
- Music ... Leonard Rosenman
- Orchestrations ... Ralph Ferraro
- Sound ... Stephen Bass, David Dockendorf
- Make Up ... Dan Striepeke, Norman Pringle, Jack Barron
- Hair ... Edith Lindon, Madine Reed, Shaleen Walsh
- Costume Designer ... Morton Haack
- Costumes ... Wally Harton, Norman Salling, Phyllis Garr, Adele Balkan
- Creative Makeup Design ... John Chambers
- Special Photographic Effects ... L.B. Abbott, Art Cruickshank
- Art Directors ... Jack Martin Smith, William Creber
- Set Decorators ... Walter M. Scott, Sven Wickman
- Art Illustrator ... Fred Harpman
- The movie was adapted into a stand-alone comic by Gold Key Comics, the first comic book adaptation of any of the POTA movies, in December 1970.
- Actor Don Pedro Colley is credited only as "Negro", and Victor Buono as "Fat Man", in the closing credits of the film. The names 'Ongaro' and 'Adiposo' were invented by The Mutant News fake newspaper issued at the time of the movie's release. Colley's official web-site lists his character's name as Ongaro. ('Negro' is a term used repeatedly by screenwriter Paul Dehn. The term had almost passed out of acceptable usage, but was not intended offensively by Dehn, as it was used to specify successful or sympathetic characters: the 'Negro Lawyer', a member of the Presidential Commission in Escape; the 'Negro Tycoons' in Conquest; and both MacDonalds were requested to be 'negro' for the purposes of the plot. Dehn also said "It's a very curious thing that the 'Apes' series has always been tremendously popular with Negroes who identify themselves with the apes. They are Black Power just as the apes are Ape Power and they enjoy it greatly." Dehn also included in his script for Escape the suggestion that Dodge had been exhibited in a museum because of the dark colour of his skin compared to that of the primitive humans of the area - an idea not originally intended by writers Rod Serling and Michael Wilson, but nevertheless not contradicted by the filmed scenes. The script point was excluded from the movie, though it did appear in the film's novelisation.)
- The first draft screenplay for the film included the gorilla characters Captain Odo and Primatus (or 'sentry no. 1', one of the gorillas left behind to guard the entrance tunnel leading to the sub-subterranean New York).
- The 2018 novel Death of the Planet of the Apes expands on much of the off-camera events of this movie. It depicts Taylor's first encounter with the mutant community, and introduces characters such as Mungwortt the outcast ape, Messias the 'heterogen', Minister Sabian and Sergeant Duignan.
The first movie, Planet of the Apes establishes that George Taylor and his crew crash-land back on Earth in the year 3978. This is shown on the Icarus date-meter as well as the main menu screen on the Planet of the Apes: The Evolution DVD collection. In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, however, Brent's ship lands on Earth after the events in the first movie, but rather than late 3978 or 3979, the clock indicates that the year is 3955. This date is referenced again in Escape from the Planet of the Apes when Zira, while under the influence of alcohol, reveals the critical information that the ship she left Earth in had a clock reading "thirty-nine fifty-something". In Battle for the Planet of the Apes this recording of Zira is played back, with the word "something" edited out. This continuity gaff cannot be explained via the gauges on Brent's ship malfunctioning as Zira's only knowledge of the Greco-Roman calendar would have come from Taylor's ship which had clearly given the date as November 25, 3978.
Behind the Scenes
With Planet of the Apes breaking box-office records across the country, producers Richard D. Zanuck, Mort Abrahams and Arthur P. Jacobs met in Zanuck's office. Abrahams recalls: "'Planet' had been doing extremely well and we were talking, patting ourselves on the back, and giving Dick credit for putting his neck on the line and so forth. Arthur, Stan Hough [an executive production manager at Fox, later producer on the 'Apes TV series] and I left Dick's office and walked downstairs. As we were walking across the lot, Stan said, 'Why don't you do a sequel?' And I said, 'You've got to be kidding-how?' He said, 'You think about it.' Later, I got a flash of an idea and went into Arthur's office and said, 'Listen, I got this crazy idea about how to do a sequel...'" Hough's suggestion unleashed a flood of possible follow-ups, notably from Rod Serling and Pierre Boulle, yet coming up with a viable script for the sequel as shocking as that of the first movie proved extremely difficult.
Rod Serling Treatments
Rod Serling, original screen writer on the first movie, devised the first idea for a sequel. Taylor and Nova take off to the dark, unexplored part of the planet. Eventually, they would discover the remnants of human city, some weapons, and an old airplane which he uses to fight off the apes - half the film would concern Taylor's battle with the apes who follow him. When the apes have him cornered, all hope looks lost, but a second spacecraft containing (human) astronauts from the past arrives and stops them. Taylor has the opportunity to return to his own time, but chooses a woman astronaut from the ship’s crew as his mate and decides to stay behind in order to rebuild humanity on the planet of the apes.
In April 1968 Abrahams wrote to Serling saying that he thought the treatment was missing the original's visual shock, as well as a shocking climax like the first film. He felt that the sequel should begin with an equivalent of the Statue of Liberty scene and build the story around it. Serling supplied two alternative concepts over the next month. In the first concept, Taylor and Nova discover another spaceship intact and travel either forward or backwards in time to a new, bizarre but unrelated adventure, which would open up "a whole raft of possibilities". The second concept also had Taylor finding a spacecraft, eluding the apes for most of the film and taking off with a handful of intelligent humans. Together, they discover another civilized planet and land, unaware that it is also populated by apes (an idea drawn from Boulle's original novel). Both of Serling's scenarios were rejected.
Interviewed by Marvel Comics in 1974, Serling described a simpler sequence of events concerning his suggestions for the movie: "Arthur offered it to me from London and I remember spending $200 on a phone conversation about what we'd do with it. We literally got into the hydrogen bomb and the resurgence of civilization over the apes and we very much plugged the concept of the ape's desperate fear of the humans. Because the humans repeated what they'd done before which, essentially, was to wreck the earth. As it turned out, I couldn't do the script when Arthur wanted it done. I was on another assignment. So I didn't have the remotest connection with the approach Jacobs eventually went with." 
Planet of the Men
Next, Pierre Boulle was asked for a treatment and script. The result was Planet of the Men (English-language copy dated 22 July 1968). It picks up immediately where the original left off and follows Taylor and Nova (and their son, Sirius) as they encounter the primitive humans beyond the Forbidden Zone and re-educate them over the course of many years. In the Ape City, chimp protesters eventually force Zaius to free Zira and Cornelius, but the more aggressive elements of ape society, led by Zaius and the gorilla Field Marshall Urus, eventually gain the upper hand and prosecute a war against the resurgent humans. Led by Taylor and Sirius, the humans utterly defeat the apes in the war, and Sirius leads the more impetuous younger humans against the ape city, eventually killing most and reducing the rest to their primitive states. Taylor is killed by a young human while trying to help Zira. The script ends in a circus where the nearly inarticulate Dr. Zaius is nothing more than a trained ape.
Boulle later reflected on his only experience of writing specifically for the screen: "After the success of the original film, Arthur Jacobs requested that I do a sequel for him. They accepted the treatment that I worked on, but they made so many changes that very few of my ideas were left. It was completely different from what they finally used on the screen. I used the end of the first film as my starting point. Taylor realized that man still existed but had regressed to a primitive and savage existence. He decides to attempt to retrain and educate them to bring them back to a normal life. He teaches them the use of language. The apes consider this a great danger and a terrible war begins. Many of the subhumans contest Taylor's leadership because he wants to make peace, and in the end they win out and destroy all of the apes whom they greatly outnumber. I relate this very badly because I have forgotten it." Boulle found the experience much less enjoyable than writing a novel, saying: "It was an interesting and amusing experience for me, nothing more. It's not the same. When I was writing I was thinking in visual terms, picturing the actors, Charlton Heston, and the others. I played the game, but my film was never made, and I don't even want to publish it, and it never will be." In fact, at least one crucial element from 'Planet of the Men' found its way into Beneath - General Ursus (presumably based on Field Marshall Urus) does lead a war of extermination against the humans, a war with disastrous results.
As Jacobs later recalled: "We didn't plan any sequel in the first one, but it became so successful that Fox said you must do a sequel, if you can come up with one. First I went to Pierre Boulle to write the screenplay. He said he didn't know how one makes one, then when I showed him a print of the first one, he was just absolutely ecstatic. He DID write a treatment for a sequel, titled 'Planet of Men', but it wasn't cinematic. Then, I went to Paul Dehn and Mort Abrahams in London, and spent about two weeks, walking and walking, trying to figure out where to go from the Statue of Liberty."
The Dark Side of the Earth
Another sequel proposal was entitled The Dark Side of the Earth. The author and date is unknown, but the same title was used by Rod Serling for a television play about the 1956 anti-communist revolt in Hungary, and the similarities to Serling's earlier Apes sequel outline (which also used the phrase 'dark side of the earth', though not as the title), suggest that the proposal could have been written by someone familiar with Serling’s earlier work, or by Serling himself. One of Abraham's objections to Serling's original story was that it lacked a shock ending, and The Dark Side of the Earth provides a shock ending to a story similar to Serling’s, so it could be his attempt to modify it to Abrahams' liking. However, the proposal does not appear to have been written on Serling's typewriter, and it shares elements of both Serling’s and Boulle’s concepts.
In the story outline, Taylor and Nova find the remains of a twentieth century town inhabited by thinking, talking humans. They join the humans and enjoy their pastoral, carefree lifestyle until another U.S. spaceship crashes, with one astronaut surviving. In time, the second astronaut, like Sirius in Planet of the Men, leads the humans on an attack against the apes just as the hawkish apes led by Zaius plan to exterminate the humans. As in Boulle’s screenplay, the humans take over and the apes revert to a primitive pre-articulate state. But Taylor is not killed in this story. Rather, remembering a bomb he found in the humans’ arsenal and disgusted by the carnage, prejudice, and hatred he has witnessed, Taylor decides to destroy everything so that God can try it all over again. He crashes the ship into the city, igniting a nuclear holocaust which leaves nothing except the reproductive imagery of a flower and a bee.
Planet of the Apes Revisited
Following the rejection of these proposals, Mort Abrahams reconsidered his preconditions for the sequel: "Finally, having thought about it for several weeks, I abandoned the idea of trying to top the Statue of Liberty shot. I told Arthur, 'Look, let's not do a film for the final shot, which we're trying to do in topping the first picture's fantastic experience. Let's just do a picture, but we have to make it visually more exciting by involving ourselves with either mechanical or film effects.' So, we started with that premise. Then, I got the idea of going beyond apes to a race of mutant humans who could create reality out of their own mental images - earthquakes, rock falls and all that sort of thing - which gave us the opportunity for visual effects on the screen. We worked backwards, building the story around the visual gimmicks." In the fall of 1968, while working in England producing The Chairman, Abrahams met with poet-turned-screenwriter Paul Dehn, who had co-written Goldfinger, one of the most popular James Bond films. After some discussion, Dehn agreed to write a treatment. "Having read his poetry," Abrahams said, "I wondered if he would be interested. His imagery indicated such a fertile imagination that I thought his would not be the standard screenwriter's approach."
Dehn submitted his story treatment, which was developed from Abrahams’ concept, on 13 September 1968. Planet of the Apes Revisited, again, began with the final moments of the first film. This time, Taylor and Nova ride into the Forbidden Zone, where they see various visual deterrents including arid deserts, snow drifts and banks of thick fog. They travel down an elevator and encounter a race of mutated humans who survived the nuclear war in the buried New York City. They metamorphosized into telepathic beings who worship the atomic bomb as a god, and while the mutant government (though not the wider community) are aware of occasional intrusions by primitive humans, gorilla hunters and chimp explorers, they choose to live in pacific isolation. Meanwhile, General Ursus, a Hitler-like gorilla, tells an ape assembly that they have killed or captured all the humans. But the ape population is growing and the captured humans require feeding, so they need to expand their frontiers. The mutants convince Taylor to spy on their behalf, for the sake of peace. He and Nova return to the Ape City, to the home of Zira and Cornelius, where he reveals that Nova is pregnant. Ursus' scouts enter the Forbidden Zone and discover the tops of New York’s tallest skyscrapers. Believing there is a ready-made city waiting for them, the gorillas soon discover that the city must be inhabited, and therefore begin to prepare an invasion. During this time, Nova gives birth to a son, Sirius, who is cared for by Zira, and Taylor meets secretly with some chimpanzee and younger orangutan students. While making their way back to the mutants, Nova is shot dead by a gorilla guard, but Taylor tells the mutants about Ursus' plans. As Taylor watches from above ground, the gorilla army marches past a pathetic anti-war demonstration, with the intent of claiming the Forbidden Zone as their own. A visual deterrent of an army of men with primitive apes pulling their war machines is disrupted by Zaius. In response, the mutants send their bomb to the surface. Taylor convinces Zaius that it must not be touched, but Ursus shoots Zaius and Taylor flees. He rendezvous’ with the chimpanzee students, who have taken over Ape City in the gorillas’ absence. They manage to capture Ursus as his gorilla soldiers break the supports of the missile, making it point downwards. The rocket fires, destroying the mutant city and the gorilla army. Taylor and his chimpanzee allies return to Ape City where Ursus is imprisoned and the humans are freed, with a new era dawning between man and ape. Dehn's treatment climaxes with an optimistic ending set 54 years after the explosion, where a group of children are being taught about that final war. The teacher is a chimpanzee and the children are human. The treatment goes on to cut to the Forbidden Zone where a group of horribly mutated apes emerge from a tunnel and, symbolically, shoot a dove - an ominous ending after all! Paul Dehn explained: "...exciting ideas did come out of the second one as a result of the Statue of Liberty, which instantly suggested that New York was underground and that there could be relics of human civilization down there, and that gave me the idea for the mutants, people who had become radiated." "We were looking for a setting that would be at once recognizable to the audience and yet take on a different form," added Abrahams. "Now, we had already destroyed New York in the first one, so we had to decide if we wanted to do shots of New York with buildings on their sides. We decided to go underground instead, and keep the whole atmosphere underground in contrast to the first picture which was all above ground. I don't know where the specific idea of the subway came in, but it all came about due to our desire to create a very visual picture. The first film depended upon the unusual story and the unusual characters. Presumably, most of the audience for the second picture would have seen the first; therefore you couldn't do scenes like the sudden disclosure of apes on horseback and expect the same reaction. We were looking for unusual visuals, not the repetition of anything in picture one."
Don Medford (The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Fugitive, The FBI and many other TV series) was chosen as director, but the project immediately hit a major problem when Charlton Heston flatly refused to appear in the sequel. Heston was uncomfortable making a movie sequel, but he also didn't like Dehn's story treatment at all: "They spoke to me, as soon as the overwhelming success of the film became evident, about a sequel, and I said, 'You know, there is no sequel. There's only the one story. You can have another picture about further adventures among the monkeys, and it can be an exciting film, but creatively there is no film'." To make matters worse, Medford soon left the project due to "creative differences" (possibly because the budget was halved), and his replacement as director was Ted Post (Hang 'em High): "when Don got into some kind of a snit with the material (and with his friend Mort, I gather) he ran like a screaming banshee away from the project. So when he read that I was going to replace him, he called me and said, "You're gonna be in deep trouble with it", because of the way they were attacking it; not Paul Dehn so much as Mort, who was trying hard to twist and turn it in a certain kind of direction. It was going toward a more hackneyed direction as compared to what they were able to accomplish with the original film." Post was ready to resign as well if Heston wouldn't feature in the film: "Heston didn't like the story and I agreed with him and I didn't want to do the picture without him because I didn't want the audience to think we would be giving them less. I wanted to have him there because it would legitimize the sequel." Dick Zanuck summoned Heston to his office and reminded the actor that he (Zanuck) was the one who had sanctioned Planet of the Apes in the first place. "I recognized that," said Heston, "and I said, 'Look, I'm very grateful to you because you were the only studio head who recognized what the piece could be. I understand you owe your stockholders something. I'll tell you what. What if I'm in it and you kill me in the first scene?' And he said,' That's OK. We can work out some kind of plot, but you gotta be in it or we can't get started.'" This compromise was agreeable to all. Heston wrote on 30 September: "Fox is now willing to accept my proposal to do a brief transition bit for them in their new version of 'Apes'. I don't think it's a good idea, but of course I'll carry out my promise to them." Dehn had to rethink his story to accommodate the new situation. In his first draft screenplay for Revisited (dated 20 December 1968), the original storyline for Taylor was adapted for a second astronaut character, John Brent, who lands on the planet after following Taylor's trajectory. Once Taylor dies in a mutant trap in the Forbidden Zone, Brent encounters Nova, the Ape City and the mutant humans. Things were soon amended again so that Taylor would appear briefly at the beginning of the movie, then he would vanish, and show up again at the end of the film for the movie's climax, in which Brent, Taylor and (now-surviving) Nova escape and debate whether they should try to return to their own time in Brent's spacecraft. They opt to stay, and Dehn's ending from the above treatment is retained, where children are being tought about how those last armies were all killed and how Taylor brought peace and harmony to the survivors in the 47 subsequent years before his death. The presence of a half-human, half-ape child is the final evidence of the harmony that has been established. Again, the script then cuts to the Forbidden Zone’s mutated apes.
Jacobs and Abrahams began casting for the movie; Heston, now reappearing as Taylor, was joined by the returning Linda Harrison (Nova), Kim Hunter (Zira) and Maurice Evans (Zaius). Unfortunately, Roddy McDowall was making his directorial debut in London and was replaced as Cornelius by English actor David Watson. Others cast included character actor James Gregory as General Ursus, (a role which Orson Welles had turned down because of the masks), and James Franciscus as Brent (which Burt Reynolds had rejected). In addition, cast as the mutants were Natalie Trundy (Arthur Jacobs' wife), Victor Buono and Gregory Sierra, and Thomas Gomez as an ape (his final film appearance). Ted Post shared Heston's reservations about the script: "I was very unhappy with the script, and I thought the script was far from what it should have been. And the input of one particular individual - Mort Abrahams - was so cliched and so hackneyed and so absolutely impossible to change or rectify or even in some way improve because of his power and his highly articulate way of getting his power across, that I think he screwed it." James Franciscus broadly agreed: "When I read the script, I thought that the story was fine, but the character really wasn't much of a man - in essence, he was led around by the nose saying, 'yes' and 'no.' So, I told my agent, Dick Clayton, 'I can see why Burt turned this down. The character, the way it's drawn, is no man.' I met with Mort and Arthur Jacobs and told them - based on the fact that they do some work here and there - yeah, I would be interested. So, the deal was set, though I wasn't locked in yet. Over the weekend, I did something outrageous, which I knew it was, but I wasn't going to let the script changes be muddled around: a line here, a line there. It needed a whole new reworking." Franciscus and a writer friend named John Ryan, assisted by Ted Post, spent a weekend restructuring the Brent character, rewriting about 60 pages. Post corroborates this story, "What we did was to make suggestions or do things that would make it legitimate. I know one thing, much of it ended up on the screen. This was before shooting began, and Mort got angry with the changes and angry with me. Finally, I said, 'Listen, Mort, actors have to perform this script and sitting where you are, you don't know whether a scene will work." Abrahams was fairly irritated, but he admitted that there were some good ideas and, Franciscus recalls, "two days later, a revised script came in and, by heavens, there were about 54 of my 60 pages in it. In my rewrite, I turned the character from a man being chased, to a man in jeopardy - and confused, but still a man." A version of the first draft screenplay with revisions was issued 3 February 1969. On 13 February, Heston wrote in his diary about his continuing problems with the Apes sequel: "The part's longer than I wanted to do and the latest script's not good, but Fox insists I have to be in the film or they can't make it" ...and on 25 and 26 March: "Jim Franciscus called, frothing at what he feels are the inadequacies of the 'Apes 2' script. I'm inclined to agree, but I don't know how much can be improved." "I ...put the fear of God into the studio re the 'Apes 2' script.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Production began in February 1969, at which point Dick Zanuck announced that the newly-renamed Beneath the Planet of the Apes would be the last Apes movie. The budget was cut down from $5.5 million to approximately $3 million, much less than the $5.8 million allotted to the original film. "It was a little unfair," explained Abrahams, "but the theory was 'yes, we would like to do a sequel. The first one was very successful, but we cannot anticipate that the second will gross as much because, traditionally, sequels go down.' That was before the later James Bond films and Superman. Historically though, that was true, and the budget was cut." Post elaborates: "We had some wonderful underwater scenes which had to be cut because they were too expensive for the modified budget. We couldn't shoot any excessive material, because the need to be within budget was extremely important. Beneath made money, though, much to the surprise of many people who don't believe in sequels." Despite the budgetary problems, Post notes that one of his biggest concerns throughout the production was the screenplay, which, changes aside, he found "horribly clichéd... The script just had so much action initially that you couldn't relate to the principals. Action doesn't mean anything if you don't care about the characters. I spoke to ['Planet of the Apes' director] Frank Schaffner, and he told me that Michael Wilson rewrote Rod Serling's original 'Planet' script and that he was someone worth going after. I contacted him, he was interested and we were all set. Then, we got word that he would cost too much money, so we went back to the original writer, Paul Dehn." Wilson confirmed he had been approached, saying "[the sequels] were offered to me but I was always busy on something else. I also felt I had done my duty to the apes. I felt that that was enough." Producer/screenwriter Arch Oboler is said to have contributed an uncredited revision to the screenplay also - Oboler's 1951 post-apocalyptic film Five may have provided some inspiration for the first Apes movie. Post continued: "What I tried to do was to make what was given to me work. I had to apply all the techniques and principles I had ever used as a director to make this picture work. I tried to tone the film with the spirit of what it was they were attempting to do; the horror of the change that occurred in having apes control the world."
Another area which was troubling Post was the makeup. Twenty-six practitioners of the art of make-up were working in the film, and that was eight weeks before shooting even started. They were employed in the laboratories at 20th Century Fox under the direction of Dan Striepeke, the departmental chief, and John Chambers, the chief make-up designer. They were designing and manufacturing the facial appliances which turned the actors into apes and mutated humans. When filming began the staff increased to between 85 and 90 working on high pressure days. Depending on the number of extras involved, the number of make-up men increased as high as 100. In order to fill this need, Chambers and Striepeke instituted a series of classes for make-up apprentices at the studio. Post met with Chambers and Striepeke and studied the mutant concepts they had created after six months of experimentation. "Originally, they were using horrible makeup, and I told them, 'I don't like these horror things you're making. A bomb of that force and impact would skin you alive. You could end up with no epidermis at all, which means you would see muscles, cells, and the nerve and blood vessels. That's in the dermis.' I remembered seeing a picture of that in 'Gray's Anatomy' when I was a kid studying biology. In that book, they peeled back the epidermis and showed us what the dermis looked like. I told them I wanted that look, and they got very excited. They executed the final look of the makeup brilliantly, but the concept was mine." Early in pre-production, it was decided that due to the large number of apes shown on screen, pullover masks would be used for all but the main ape characters and those in close-up. The plot device of the half-human, half-ape child appearing in the final scene was given serious consideration; costume tests were undertaken in late 1968, and further make-up tests in early 1969, but the idea was eventually excised from the final product. According to Post, "The special effects people had worked out something with the makeup people, who were brilliant. John Chambers and Dan Striepeke were terrific artists who really tried to do something special with their imagination and insight. Well, nobody seemed pleased with that idea." It has also been pointed out that the implied inter-species breeding would cause problems with the film's MPAA rating - as Paul Dehn himself pointed out: "I wanted a more optimistic end to 'Apes 2' than the destruction of Earth by the Doomsday Bomb, but my own end, the birth of a child half-human and half-monkey, proved intractable in terms of make-up, and anyway it was thought that Man-Ape miscegenation might lose us our G certificate!" A rare screen test of the human-ape hybrid can be found on the 1998 documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes. 
Before Charlton Heston began filming his few scenes in April, the decision that this was to be the last Apes movie - together with the enormous bomb that ultimately kills the mutants and gorillas in the film's climax - gave him an idea: his character should be killed off at the film's conclusion, and he should take the entire planet with him by activating a 'doomsday' nuclear weapon. He convinced Zanuck, who was by then in the process of being fired by Fox and didn't see any future for the franchise. Heston wrote: "They asked me to simply disappear in the opening sequence. I agreed, if they'd then kill me off in the end, thinking I could end the whole thing with a death that included the end of the world. I sold them on this." "I thought my main contribution was persuading them that the best thing for me to do would be to blow up the world. I thought, 'OK, that's going to be the end of those sequels.'" "I sold the director and producer on the idea." This meant that the planned ending of the film had to be drastically changed; the original framing scenes of the ape teacher with human children could not now happen (to be replaced by a disembodied narrator, but the idea was to be recycled for the opening and closing scenes of Battle for the Planet of the Apes), and Beneath climaxed with the destruction of everything, signifying the end of this bizarre planet of apes. "I didn't want that ending," declared Post. "I thought it was a very negative, pessimistic ending; very unhopeful. We did have other endings, but the order came down from Dick. ..that was the picture I was involved with that found Dick Zanuck not in a very happy state of mind. His conclusion about the picture was a reflection either consciously or unconsciously of what he felt. The meaning of it was not too profound and, if anything, it lacked meaning. It lacked human significance. It didn't have a theme or a premise worth anything. If anything, it was cynical and pessimistic because of the finish of it. I don't believe in dampening the human spirit like that. I don't care how realistic you want to be - I'm an optimist, basically". "Seemingly, what happened was that "the powers that be" took the suggestion of a selfish egotist; he didn't want the series to go on anymore. It was a very personal attitude, one which had nothing to do with the future of the story and maybe providing employment later for more people, with the possibility of this becoming a series." James Franciscus was also unhappy with the revised conclusion: "I thought the ending was awful. A picture without hope...I think Ted and I PLEADED for someone to survive this mess, be it Chuck's character or the girl or Brent's character - SOMEBODY far enough away from the explosion for whatever reason so that mankind is still left".
The final screenplay, with it's new apocalyptic ending, was completed 10 April 1969. Paul Dehn later explained, "The producer wanted it. So I did as I was told. The bomb went off, the screen went white, the earth was dead..." Days later, on 14 April, Heston was still dissatisfied with the project, writing: "After the mix up yesterday, when I made my position clear on kiting off to the desert to spend three days there on these scenes, they flew me up on the crew's charter this morning and choppered me back home to the Mulholland fire station when I'd finished for the day. The script is still nothing much, the direction (by Ted Post of the old New York days) very brisk and permissive. This was all complicated by a terrible, tearing wind all day, plus the fact that the fall they made to match my long hair from the original 'Apes' is not good. I'm not hopeful of the result... but then, I won't be long in it." Two weeks later, he was "..still slaving away on my promised chore in the 'Apes' sequel. I'm beginning to regret it, for more than obvious reasons. This is the first film... first acting... I've ever done in my life for which I have no enthusiasm, which is a vital loss. To choose always the most expedient solution to a scene, to work without watching dailies... I can't adjust to this image of myself. ..I thought there'd be nothing for me but a few simple physical scenes; instead I find myself tangled in creative discussions in aid of a project in whose creative validity I have no confidence." He finished filming his parts on 2 May - "At least I've done what I told Dick Zanuck I would do" - and donated his agreed-upon guild-minimum fee to his son Fraser's school. Linda Harrison, meanwhile, was tired of playing Nova and looking forward to filming TV series Bracken's World (broadcast from September 1969) the day after filming on Beneath ended, and also to starting a family with husband Zanuck, whom she married in October of the same year.
- Like its predecessor, Beneath was filmed mainly at the Fox studio itself, and on location at the Fox ranch in Malibu. California's Red Rock Canyon State Park stood in for the Forbidden Zone, previously shot at desert spots in Utah and Arizona.
- Most of the sequences of Taylor and Nova experiencing electrical disturbances in the Forbidden Zone were done optically, except for the earth-splitting sequence, where a clever miniature was used with a rear-projection screen.
- The village sets of the Ape City were still standing on Fox Ranch, and a little tidying and trimming of the rough edges made them as good as new for location scenes.
- The original interior sets of the Ape Council Chambers, the ‘Veterinary Clinic’, and various ape domiciles were salvaged and reassembled on studio soundstages for use.
- The first shot of the crucified apes was achieved through the use of a dissolve, created with an optical printer. A dissolve is basically a way to achieve an easy transition of scenes in a film. There are two scenes, and for a moment one scene is superimposed upon the other, then fades out. The flames which appear were matted in the scene with the use of the optical printer, as was the figure of the Lawgiver, which was a miniature that was prepared to break up for the filmed sequence. The effect of blood tears was achieved by a small hole in the statue where the fake blood was allowed to pass through.
- In the mutant city, we see these scenes being viewed by the mutant leaders on one of the walls of the old Grand Central Terminal. There is an optical zoom used both on Mendez and the matted wall. The wall effect is a simple matte achieved in the optical printer. The Optical Zoom is easy to spot, as the camera zooms in the film seems to become grainier. This grain of the film depends on both film stock and the 'generation' of the film, in this case, third generation.
- The scenes of the ruins of what was New York City are composite matte shots, and they are not sets but paintings. In this technique a painting is made and an area is left black where the suitable scene is matted in. 'Beneath' had some nice use of this technique, and in contrast the same film has a poor example of it in the long shot painting of the melted New York.
- Art director William Creber explained how New York was recreated as the mutant city: "For the New York ruins in 'Beneath', we used actual photographs of the places, cut them with razor blades, and the special effects department matted them in. The church in 'Beneath' was purposely asymmetrical and off balance. That was a tough set, and I had a lot of help from many people on it. We used a standing set, the 'Harmonia Gardens' from 'Hello, Dolly!', and revamped it, spraying all over it with foam. The 'Grand Central Station' set from 'Dolly' was used too, for the tribunal scene." Barbra Streisand can be seen walking through the 'Grand Central Station' set at the beginning of the 12 million dollar turkey Hello, Dolly! - later the mutant 'Tribunal Room' - and dancing in the plush 'Harmonia Gardens Restaurant' set shown later in the film - which was sprayed with liberal amounts of polyurethane foam to become the mutant's 'Cathedral'. Producer Irwin Allen used the tiled tubular passageways of the 'New York Subway System' set (painted blue and shot from behind) for a 1968 episode of Land of the Giants, and as an electrical power-duct in his 1969 TV-movie City Beneath the Sea. The same set would be used again in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, as corridors between sections of the Ape Management complex.
- Charlton Heston described his self-suggested final scene as where "Taylor, as he's dying, hit the bomb - like the Alec Guinness character in 'Bridge on the River Kwai', I suppose." Like Planet of the Apes, The Bridge on the River Kwai was adapted by Michael Wilson from a novel written by Pierre Boulle.
- The end screen fading into white was achieved by over-exposing the film a number of times in the optical printer.
While it received mixed critical notices, Beneath the Planet of the Apes grossed nearly as much as Planet of the Apes and delighted audiences worldwide. Shortly thereafter, in England, writer Paul Dehn received a simple telegram: "APES LIVE! SEQUEL REQUIRED!" It was only a short period of time before preliminary discussions began on episode three, Secret of the Planet of the Apes (eventually renamed Escape from the Planet of the Apes).
- This film is the POTA debut of actress Natalie Trundy. Playing the role of the mutant, Albina, Natalie would be the only female to appear in 4 of the 5 POTA films, as Dr. Stephanie Branton, and Caesar's wife Lisa. Natalie was also the wife of the late film producer Arthur P. Jacobs.
- Thomas Gomez became very claustrophobic during filming and had to have the side of his mask cut open to alleviate his fears.
- The final scene where Taylor hangs onto the detonator by his fingers is an elaborate reference to a scene from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), where a worker collapses in the factory in a similar fashion.
- In 1988, Twentieth Century Fox invited young director Adam Rifkin to the studio to pitch ideas for films. Being a fan of Planet of the Apes, Fox commissioned Rifkin to write a sequel... "but not a sequel to the fifth film - an alternate sequel to the first film." The result was his 'Return to the Planet of the Apes' screenplay, which went through various drafts (the first revision dated December 1988) until the project was eventually abandoned.
- The events surrounding Beneath have inspired many pieces of fan-fiction over the years, including the short story Scouts, written by Dave Ballard with illustrations by Neil Foster, which features the characters of gorillas Damien, Joshua and Bartholomew and mutant Vasalle XXI.
Ursus: "I'll tell you one thing that every good soldier knows! The only thing that counts in the end is power! Naked merciless force!"
Cornelius: "But you don't understand. Only apes can speak. Not her, and not you. If they catch you speaking, they will dissect you! And they will kill you! In that order!"
Ursus: "Brutal butchery! I swear those responsible shall pay with torture and with death!"
Dr. Zaius: "If you have any pity, bid your soldiers to shoot our poor people."
Ursus: "I can't order them to do what the Lawgiver has forbidden! Ape shall not kill ape."
Ursus: "He bleeds! The Lawgiver bleeds!"
Zaius: "The spirit of the Lawgiver lives. We are still God's chosen. This is a vision! And it is a lie!!"
Mendez: "The Heavens declared the glory of the Bomb, and the firmament showeth His handiwork." "He descendeth from the outermost part of Heaven and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. There is neither speech, nor language, yet His voice is heard among Them." "Glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen." "O Mighty and Everlasting Bomb, who came down among us to make Heaven under Earth, lighten our darkness. O instrument of God, grant us thy peace." "Behold the truth that abides in us. Reveal that truth unto that Maker." "Let everyone go to his private shelter. Empty the streets. There to find the city of the dead." "May the Blessing of the Bomb Almighty, and the Fellowship of the Holy Fallout, descend upon us all. This day and forever more."
Ongaro, the Negro: "Mr. Taylor, Mr. Brent, we are a peaceful people. We don't kill our enemies. We get our enemies to kill each other."
Taylor: "The doomsday bomb. Another lovely souvenir from the 20th century. They weren't satisfied with a bomb that could knock out a city. They finally built one with a cobalt casing, all in the sweet name of peace."
Brent: "Those bloody fools! They don't know what they've got. They pray to the damn thing. If they shoot it off at some of those apes, it could set off a chain reaction in the whole atmosphere."
Taylor: "Burn the planet to a cinder. How's that for your ultimate weapon?"
Dr. Zaius: "You ask me to help you? Man is evil! Capable of nothing but destruction!"
Narrator: "In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe lies a medium-sized star. And one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead."
Cast And Crew
Beneath the Planet of the Apes proved to be surprisingly poorly-received by most of the people who worked on it. While it garnered more modest returns than its predecessor, this was to be expected with sequels; in fact it performed quite respectably, enough to justify a further sequel. The bad experiences on set and behind the scenes may go some way in explaining its unpopularity among its creators.
- "We had other endings, but the order came down from Dick...that was the picture I was involved with that found Dick Zanuck not in a very happy state of mind. His conclusion about the picture was a reflection either consciously or unconsciously of what he felt. The meaning of it was not too profound and, if anything, it lacked meaning. It lacked human significance. It didn't have a theme or a premise worth anything. If anything, it was cynical and pessimistic because of the finish of it. I don't believe in dampening the human spirit like that. I don't care how realistic you want to be - I'm an optimist, basically." - Director Ted Post
- Director Ted Post said he found it "a very challenging experience" working with the film's "hodgepodge script," and trying to give it "a concept, a point-of-view, a unifying force." He felt the film had "a shape, a character that gave it a visual and visceral thrust," but also that "the story was unclear and didn't measure up."
- Screenwriter Paul Dehn "wanted a more optimistic end to 'Apes 2' than the destruction of Earth by the Doomsday Bomb". "The producer wanted it. So I did as I was told. The bomb went off, the screen went white, the earth was dead..."
- "I thought the ending was awful. A picture without hope...I think Ted (Post, director) and I PLEADED for someone to survive this mess, be it Chuck (Heston)'s character or the girl or Brent's character - SOMEBODY far enough away from the explosion for whatever reason so that mankind is still left". - 'Brent' actor James Franciscus
- "Jim Franciscus called, frothing at what he feels are the inadequacies of the APES 2 script. I'm inclined to agree, but I don't know how much can be improved." - 'Taylor' actor Charlton Heston
- "I ran APES II tonight, with many misgivings. It was a little better, actually, than I'd thought it could be. Aside from many careless errors in structure and detail, the main problem is that the leading character [Jimmy Franciscus... a good actor] really has nothing to play, as I predicted would be the case when I refused the role. I'm barely acceptable in a cameo reprise of the Taylor role from the first film." - Charlton Heston
- 'Zira' actor Kim Hunter found this movie more difficult to work on than the first one, which had a "special, experimental nature that was exciting." The second one, she said, was "pure melodrama," and that "whatever is said was lost."
- "[Beneath] wasn't as good as the first, 'cause of course we had Franklin J. Schaffner on that one and he was one of the top, top directors." - 'Nova' actor Linda Harrison
- "As much as I enjoyed the first film, my favorite project was the third one, and I think it was by far a better picture than the second one. What the second one lacked was the real relationship between the apes and the humans, and this is what 'Escape' had." - Art director William Creber
- Mort Abrahams co-wrote and co-produced Beneath the Planet of the Apes; although it was "essentially my idea", Abrahams was dissatisfied with the result.
- "As in most sequels, there was a deterioration of quality - in this instance to the level of comic-strip science fiction. But I had nothing to do with the sequels, and my reaction may therefore be subjective." - Planet of the Apes screenwriter Michael Wilson
Only 'Zaius' actor Maurice Evans seemed to have anything positive to say about the movie:
- "There is every reason why a story should be expanded if the author has really got anything to say. And I think in the case of the sequel to Planet of the Apes, the public will find that the author has a great deal more to say than he had in the first one. In fact, the sequel to my way of thinking, is infinitely more profound from a philosophical standpoint. In many ways more frightening."
The film received mixed to negative reception from film critics. It currently has a 41% on the film rating website Rotten Tomatoes.
- Dennis Shwartz of Ozus' World Movie Reviews claimed that "social commentary was not one of this glum film's strong points."
- Michael Sheinfeld of TV Guide's Movie Guide claimed that the film was "[A] quickie follow-up that vainly tries to imitate the look of the original on an obviously limited budget, and for the most part, eschews the philosophical, social, and racial subtext of the first film in favor of straightforward shoot-em-up."
- One of the few positive reviews was from James Kendrick of Q Network Film Desk, who claimed that the film was "an effective sequel that takes an increasingly dark look at the unavoidable nature of war."
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (novel)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (comic)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Power Records)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Marvel Comic Book)
- at the
- Beneath the Planet of Apes review
- Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive (featuring alternative script versions)
- ↑ Overview of the Movie by Octavio Ramos Jr.
- ↑ 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' promotional material
- ↑ The Official Don Pedro Colley Website
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 'Cinefantastique Planet of the Apes Issue' (1972)
- ↑ Planet of the Apes Revisited First Draft Screenplay at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 'Planet of the Apes Revisited' by Joe Russo and Larry Landsman
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Planet of the apes as American Myth by Eric Greene
- ↑ 'Marvel Planet of the Apes', UK Issue 12
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Trivia for 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes'
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 A Look Behind Beneath the Planet of the Apes with Director Ted Post - 'Apesfan' Special Edition (1999)
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 The Actor's Life: Journals 1956-1976 by Charlton Heston (1978)
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 'Planet of the Apes Revisited' by Joe Russo and Larry Landsman.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Planet of the Apes: 40 Year Evolution, by Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall (June 2008)
- ↑ 'Marvel's Planet of the Apes', USA Issue 2 (October 1974)
- ↑ The Planet of the Apes Chronicles by Paul A. Woods (Page 16)
- ↑ Planet of the Apes Newsletter, July/September 1976
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Behind the Planet of the Apes (1998), 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Hollywood Goes Ape - 'Planet of the Apes' Poster Magazine (1974)
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 SFX on the Planet of the Apes, by Tom Sciacca - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #96 (18 August 1976)
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 Finding the Future on the Fox Ranch!, by Sam Maronie - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #43 (16 August 1975)
- ↑ Charlton Heston Talks About Science Fiction, by Don Shay - 'Fantastic Films' (February 1980)
- ↑ Tales From Development Hell, by David Hughes
- ↑ 'Simian Scrolls #7' at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
- ↑ 'Starlog - Woman of the Apes' (April 1995)
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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|