While many of today’s pop culture fans look back and point to Star Trek or Star Wars as defining moments of their childhood years, I look to the original Ape series with a similar fondness. While I was too young to ever see these films on the big screen I saw them in prime time network showings and remember the kids cartoon and the series with Roddy McDowall that played for one season and it subsequently being strung together and played back as tv movies that would sometimes play after school on weekdays.
I had the boardgame, the Halloween mask and some of the action figures that now are relegated to cases at flea markets or memorabilia shows. Mom worked at a magazine section of the local market we had here in my hometown and always made sure to bring home the latest Apes comic as well.
I’ve always liked the Star Trek universe of Shatner and Nimoy. Star Wars was just a blip on the sci fi scene for me. But the Apes hit the right note in my childhood and then there’s the added bonus of who was in it. Charlton Heston and I suppose my earliest screen crush, Linda Harrison.
“Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death. ”
“What the hell would I have to say to a gorilla? ”
“on an historic day, which is commemorated by my species and fully documented in the sacred scrolls, there came Aldo. He did not grunt. He articulated. He spoke a word which had been spoken to him time without number by humans. He said ‘No.’ So that’s how it all started.”
“Now we will put down our weapons. We have passed through the Night of the Fires. And who were our masters are now our servants. And we, who are not human, can afford to be humane. Destiny is the will of God. And, if it is man’s destiny to be dominated, it is God’s will that he be dominated with compassion and understanding. So, cast out your vengeance. Tonight, we have seen the birth of the Planet of the Apes!
“In the beginning God created beast and man so that both might live in friendship and share dominion over a world of 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 saviour, miraculously born of two apes who descended on Earth from Earth’s own future and man was afraid for both parent apes possessed the power of speech ”
An apes posting wouldn’t feel right without spotlighting an actor who is one of only a handful I still refer to this very day as a friend despite never having met him in my life. He appeared in numerous films that shaped my early years of film discovery. He had the dog I wanted in Lassie Come Home, the Apes films and was in the film that terrorized my youth, Legend of Hell House and many other titles I fondly recall in both movies and television shows. And then there came Fright Night for one more lasting characterization. Roddy McDowall is one film actor I think it would have been nice to just sit down and chat with over lunch.
I’m another Apes fan, Mike. I think I enjoyed the movies, and the TV show, as much if not more than other SF stuff too. I’m glad you singled out McDowall for special mention here – he seemed to appear everywhere when I was growing up (TV, movies) and I agree he always came across very well indeed.
Glad to hear we have that in common and McDowall was always this calming presence somehow. Even when playing a bad guy (five card stud) you knew he was winking at you.
That’s true. I remember he was really good in an early episode of Columbo too.
I almost mentioned that as I saw it not to long ago. The ending on a tram car was a lot of fun.
I like the Apes franchise too. Roddy as a “friend” is a great way to think of him, you grow up with him in these and other movies and you know I am a huge Fright Night fan so I’m glad you mentioned that one, where he played a character inspired by other “friends” Cushing and Price!
Vincent is the other actor if I had to pick just two that I would call friend. Peter pretty close too.
Saw ‘Battle’ at the drive-in with my friend when it was originally released; for a ten-year-old out late at the drive-in, it sure was a lot of fun. Most interesting, though, was that my friend’s sister was going out on a date that night, and the guy she was seeing invited us along to join them at the drive-in! I wonder if she ever went out with him again…
lol. It’s recollections from our youth that add to the memories.