This past February 18, 2012 at the Grauman’s Egyptian theater on Hollywood Boulevard, there was a showing of the five original Planet of the Apes films. Not only were the films shown in their original uncut form, but all were also digitally remastered from exquisite prints.
In addition to having the good fortune of seeing one of the most successful and groundbreaking science fiction film series on the big screen, we were also blessed with the opportunity to sit in on a discussion panel consisting of actors from all five films. In attendance were Lou Wagner who played Luscius in The Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Eric Braeden (Dr. Otto Hasslein) from Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Don Murray (Governor Breck) and H.M. Wynant (Hoskyns) from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Austin Stoker (MacDonald) from Battle for the Planet of the Apes. All gentlemen looked quite chipper considering that the last installment of the films was released almost forty years ago! A couple of interesting things learned included the fact that Eric Braedon is not particularly fond of science fiction films, and that Austin Stoker won the lead role in John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 based on his appearing in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. It was nice to see the affection that these veteran actors and comrades had for each other, but not much else was learned about the series, and this is coming from a geek who eats this stuff up.
Overall it was a fun event and the viewing quality of the films was great. Seeing these historic films on the big screen was breathtaking. Though I must admit I was not able to last through the entire marathon, and at the end of Escape from the Planet of the Apes at six and a half hours I made my own escape. Of course, this also had to do with testing my patience as each film becomes less enlightening. Being a huge fan of the first two films also skews my interest.
For those not familiar, the Grauman’s Egyptian is the sister theater to the more famous Grauman’s Chinese theater where the footprints of the stars reside in the courtyard. If you get a chance to visit Hollywood, I highly recommend seeing a film in this theater as it recently received a 15 million dollar renovation. It’s one of those grand theaters that makes it worthwhile to go and spend the money to see landmark films from yesteryear. The American Cinematheque which runs the theater has great programming Thursday through Sundays.