Nearly a half-century after its release, 1968’s The Planet Of The Apes has been so ingrained in our popular imagination that it’s become one of those films it’s possible to feel like you’ve seen without ever actually seeing it. Most pop-culture fans could probably outline the broad strokes of the film—and certainly its famous final twist—based on references and parodies from shows like Mad Men and The Simpsons alone. But there’s a lot more to Franklin Schaffner’s adaptation of the French novel La Planete Des Singes than “Take your stinkin’ paws off me, you damned dirty ape” and “You blew it up!” It projects a simultaneously hopeful and cynical view—okay, maybe a little more cynical—of humanity’s potential, for both good and bad, and continues to serve as a potent metaphor for race relations. And even with all those rubber masks and fur suits—which actually hold up pretty darn well—it’s often a surprisingly beautiful movie, particularly in the opening, ape-free half-hour when Charlton Heston’s astronaut Taylor and the remnants of his crew explore the strange, seemingly desolate planet they’ve crash-landed on after a 2,000-year hibernation. If you’ve managed to go this long without seeing Planet Of The Apes in its full, original form—or if it’s just been so long the pop-cultural references have eclipsed the original product in your mind—you can rectify that today at 6:00 p.m. on TCM. Then go read Keith Phipps’ multiple Laser Age columns about where the series went after it blew itself up.
March 05, 2015 Cable Pick Of The Day