Friday, April 24, 2009

planet gone ape

"Somewhere in the universe there must be something better than man. In a matter of time, an astronaut will wing through the centuries and find the answer. He may find the most terrifying one of all on the planet where apes are the rulers and man the beast."

My uncle Pat (AKA: Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson) used to drive out from Macon, GA to Gadsden at least once every year. He'd always pay me to give his car a good wash and vacuum. I was ten years old in 1968. Not only would Pat pay me for a job well done, but would often treat me to a movie too. Pat has always been a real movie buff. He would always let me pick the movie I wanted to see. I remember looking up at the posters behind the glass and chose PLANET OF THE APES. Pat was nice and didn't try to persuade me to watch something else. Like a grown-up would tolerate taking a child in to see the latest High School Musical movie - he was a real trooper. Poor Pat. Down through the decades he still asks me if I remembered going to that dreadful movie with the people dressed up as apes. He really loathed that movie and would bring it up down through the years. I thought the whole movie was fascinating as a kid. I've watched it many times since. It still holds up.

I remember my old friend Jim Thompson telling me that when he was attending Georgia Tech back in the seventies that the school had nights where they'd have marathons of all the Planet of the Apes movies. Jim was a big fan. If you think back, Planet of the Apes and 2001 A Space Odyssey both came out in 1968. They were both ground breaking movies of the day. Both movies were put into the shadow in 1977 when Star Wars came out. Star Wars set the new standard for special effects movies.

I remember kids carrying around Planet of the Apes lunch boxes and there was even a Planet of the Apes television series, animated series and comic books. Boy they squeezed that banana for all it was worth. Yes - I'll say it - everybody went ape over that movie. Every one of course except for my uncle Pat (and he's the one that paid for the ticket).

The franchise kept churning out movies. The original movie concept was drafted by non other than Rod Serling. I liked the third movie Escape From Planet of The Apes as much as I enjoyed the first movie. Even as a kid I didn't care for all the following sequels. The sequels just kept going downhill. The fifth and last installment, Battle for Planet of the Apes, was laughable because they didn't have the budget to pull it off. The grande finale looked like a bunch of guys playing army in a cow field.

Here's to Planet of the Apes. A movie that didn't make it on the list of the greatest movies ever made, yet deserves a little praise for it's contribution to motion picture history. I can't think of that movie without thinking of my sweet uncle who took me to go see it. Thanks Pat!
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