Tag Archives: 1975

A Day At The Zoo

apescartoon3

“Never though that I’d be acting humanoid
that ain’t the simian thing to do
humanoids go frantic but before things get romantic
and I’m going humanoid over you!
If I thought that you’d enjoy it
I’d stop trying to avoid it
I’m going humanoid over you!” – Return to the Planet of the Apes

Inspiration for humanity can originate from the most unlikely of sources, such as in the case of “Return To the Planet of the Apes” (created by none other than the creators of the Pink Panther!), the short lived 1975 cartoon series based on the popular Planet of the Apes film franchise, which had been based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. The intense and colorful opening sequence, a montage of stills and it’s accompanying theme stand as a strangely moving yet completely forgotten and never appreciated work of 70′s pop art.

The premise of RTTPOTA is familiar territory. This time, three astronauts: Bill Hudson, Jeff Allen, and Judy Franklin get trapped in the future where mankind has destroyed itself, and the apes have taken over. The astronauts spend the majority of the episodes trying to protect the remaining primitive humans, and lead them out of the caves and on a long treacherous journey to “New Valley,” a supposed place of safety where they can “build pueblos the way the Indians did in New Mexico and Arizona.” All the while, they must stay ahead of, outsmart and sometimes fend off attacks from the apes and their cunning and determined, “General Urko”. Oh and that General Urko, what a character! He is portrayed as something of a belligerent, bumbling fool, but in reality he is incredibly intuitive and nearly always correct in his suspicions of what his enemies are up to.

AnimatedApesTVSeries

Occasionally the humans must venture into Ape City to seek the help of ape scientists and “simiantarians” Cornelius and Zira, the only apes not openly hostile toward the humanoids.

Whatever happened to those modest, 70′s sideburn sporting, turtleneck wearing, medallion rocking, poetry reading, black American men who spoke the king’s English and everything. Oh how I want them back. Sadly, many were apparently subsequently replaced by all the gangsters, hip hoppers, and belligerent ‘hoot and hollerers’. Though something along these lines could probably be said to relate to all humanity. White culture(whatever that is) has certainly taken a nosedive since the 70′s as well. I just wish there were more men out there like Bill Hudson and Jeff Allen. Let me be the first to nominate Austin Stoker for president! I would even risk the possibility of getting jury duty to vote for him. While the creators of “The Pink Panther” won an Oscar for “The Pink Phink” in 1964, “Return to the Planet of the Apes” was cancelled after a mere 13 episodes. It barely registers as even a blip on the historical map of American pop culture, and is critically remembered negatively, if at all.

flamesofdoom

But as you can see, I often wonder about Bill, Jeff and Judy, and if and where their personalities can be found in our world today. As for the series itself, some of us see it not just as some non-essential part of a dragged out money making franchise, a third rate afterthought, but rather we see “Return to the Planet of the Apes” as a vastly
underappreciated gem,

…worthy of an academape award.

This piece originally appeared in my 2008 book, SideQuests

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+

The Stepford Wives and The Men Who Love Them

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Starring: Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Peter Masterson, Nanette Newman, Tina Louise
Directed by: Bryan Forbes
Synopsis(unknown source):

“Ira Levin’s scary novel about forced conformity in a small Connecticut town made for this compelling 1975 thriller. Katharine Ross stars as a city woman who moves with her husband to Stepford and is startled by how perpetually happy many of the local women seem to be. Her search for an answer reveals a plot to replace troublesome real wives with more accommodating fake ones (not unlike the alien takeover in Invasion of the Body Snatchers). The closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she faces–not to mention the likelihood that the men in town intend to replace her as well. Screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and director Bryan Forbes (King Rat) made this a taut, tense semiclassic with a healthy dose of satiric wit.”

This film is an absolute masterpiece. There’s no need to even bother going to see the awful remake.

It’s very easy for one to identify with the men in this movie. Early on we see as Katharine Ross’s husband works hard to provide for her and loves her deeply. Her character comes off as nagging, nitpicking, and unreasonable and though she loves him she complains constantly and is obsessed with her “goddamned picture taking”. She resents him for leaving the big city and wanting to settle down in a mansion in stepford. He gets invited to join the town’s “mens association” where it’s revealed to him that all the wives in the town have been killed and replaced by robots and he must do the same to his. He agrees reluctantly though none of this is shown in the film as everything is seen through the wife’s eyes. The rest of the film consists of Ross’s character trying to figure out what is going on in stepford, and even as she slowly puts together the clues of what happend to the wives she is ultimately unable to avoid sharing their fate.

I’ve often fantasized that I could have cloned versions of the girls I like only i’d “make them reasonable”. Yet what makes this film so poignant is how it illustrates that the annoying qualities of girls, that can make them so difficult and unaccommodating, are precisely what gives them their appeal. I may roll my eyes at a girl’s constant indecisiveness, or get aggravated when they don’t do what i want. I might think the things they’re into are lame, their hobbies pointless, their coldness heartbreaking….but in the end i just grin and bear it because the truth is that deep down I love them so fucking much for being human.

unrelated footnote:
I’m pretty sure this movie is what created my affinity for girls who wear head scarves.

stepford

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+