Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

This movie apes its betters

Cleveland Press July 9, 1971

"Escape From the Planet of the Apes" is the third in a series of movies that began brilliantly with "Planet of the Apes" and continued with the potboiler "Beneath the Planet of the Apes."

"Escape" looks more like a made-for television movie than anything else. The first half, in fact, might pass for a situation comedy in which people are amused at apes who act like humans.

AT THE END of "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" earth was destroyed in a nuclear war in the year 3550. But Zira (Kim Hunter and her husband Cornelius Roddy McDowall) along with another ape scientist had taken off in a space ship before the holocaust began.

They hit a bend in time and just as the American astronauts flew into the future in 'Planet of the Apes,' these inhabitants of the future hit a bend in time and landed near Los Angeles in the year 1973.

Treated at first as interesting animals they are housed in the Los Angeles Zoo were the third member of the party is killed by a gorilla.

An animal psychiatrist (Bradford Dillman) discovers they can talk, which is no great trick on his part since, they speak right up and the two visitors are brought before a presidential commission for questioning.

THE WORLD lS astounded as the world can only be astounded in the movies and Zira and Cornelius are treated as celebrities -- put up the Beverly Wilshire Hotel clad in human clothing, partied.,invited to make speeches. That's the situation comedy part of the movie.

The picture gets back on the message track, the track it occupied in the first two films, as one scientist in particular (Eric Braeden) realizes that the apes pose a danger to man kind and that to destroy them can change the course of history. This becomes especially important to him since Zira is pregnant.

There's a CIA interrogation that gets kind of rough. The manevolant scientist has a German accent, which is copout -- in affect saying that no presidential advisor would be so cold blooded if he were really an American.

THE FEAR OF the unknown and prejudice, however, know no nationality and the ending is inevitable. The producers have given it , a twist, though, so that the way is open for a fourth in the series.

Kim Hunter and to a slightly lesser extent. Roddy McDowell, manage to register as personalities in spite of the simian suits they wear.

The production is strictly low budget. Considering the makers are still using those old monkey suits from the first film, it's lower than low.