PLANET OF THE APES REVISITED: The "Behind-the-Scenes" Story of the Classic Science Fiction Saga

Joe Russo, Author, Larry Landsman, Author, Larry Landsman, Joint Author with Edward Gross. St. Martin's/Griffin $19.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-25239-7

Fans of the 1968 sci-fi film classic Planet of the Apes and its four sequels (plus two short-lived TV shows) will be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive, authoritative and entertaining guide to late producer Arthur P. Jacobs's ape empire. With access to Jacobs's files, the authors detail the several drafts of each screenplay, chronicle day-by-day shooting schedules and create an exhaustive behind-the-scenes history of the epic series. During the book's 15-year gestation, the authors were able to interview virtually every actor, director, producer, writer, production designer, makeup artist and composer on each film. (Some of the quotes could have been tightened to avoid repetition.) Even those who are familiar with the series (or saw the 1998 AMC documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes) will glean new knowledge from amusing firsthand recollections of Roddy McDowall (who starred in four of the films, as well as the live-action TV show) and Natalie Trundy (Jacobs's widow, who acted in four of the films). Apes star Charlton Heston, who wrote the book's introduction, proves a sharp interviewee and allowed the authors to quote liberally from his daily journals. Likewise, memos from Rod Sterling (who scripted the original film and helped with the TV show) are illuminating. Made on ever-decreasing budgets, each film in the series turned a profit and remains enjoyable, both as pop entertainment and for its political, social commentary and allegorical treatment of race relations (particularly the violent Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and its Watts riots reenactments). Rare b&w photos throughout, with a 16-page color insert. Agent, Christopher Schelling. (Aug. 6)

Forecast:Tim Burton's big-budget Planet of the Apes remake invades theaters July 27; its release will provide great publicity for this book.

Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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