USA / 1971
Director: Don Taylor
Writer: Paul Dehn (based on characters created by Pierre Boulle)
Cast: Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Bradford Dillman, Ricardo Montalban, Natalie Trundy, Eric Braeden, William Windom
“Escape from the Planet of the Apes is an excellent film,” Variety wrote in praise of the third Planet of the Apes movie. “The film is marked by an outstanding script, excellent direction by Don Taylor, and a superior performance from a cast headed by encoring Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter. It will engage the sophisticated while entertaining the rest. May this series continue as an annual summer event!”
Following on directly from where Beneath the Planet of the Apes left off, Escape… sees three apes – Cornelius (McDowall), Zira (Hunter) and Milo (Sal Mineo) – flee the nuclear holocaust of their own planet in a spacecraft and materialise in modern-day California. As might be expected, the appearance of three English-speaking, intelligent chimpanzees comes as quite a shock to animal psychologist Dr Lewis Dixon (Bradford Dillman). He hears about the bleak future awaiting mankind on Earth, but is sympathetic to the apes’ dilemma. A prominent scientist, Dr Otto Hasslein (Eric Braeden), is less hospitable, however, and decides to act when he hears about the reversal of Darwin’s theory. (Trainspotters will recollect that Hasslein was mentioned in the original movie.)
Zira becomes pregnant and Hasslein is determined to kill the offspring, lest it grow to conquer man. Luckily, Zira and Cornelius manage to escape the doctor’s clutches and take refuge in a circus. Thanks to Dixon they manage to stay one step ahead of Hasslein, before eventually being cornered by the ruthless scientist. Although they are destroyed, there’s one last sting to the tale.