Take Your Stinking Paws Off My Heart, You Damn Dirty Apes!

April 16, 2011

Several days ago I wondered how audiences reacted upon first hearing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and, similarly, I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like to see the climatic scene of Planet Of The Apes in the theater.

I wasn’t even walking when the original Planet Of The Apes was released in 1968, so I ended up viewing it for the first time on television in the ’70s no doubt on the CBS Friday Night Movie.

Planet Of The Apes is a classic flick and the entire film series was fun as a kid. I mean, aren’t most kids fascinated by monkeys and apes?

They’re furry humans with the smaller ones like cartoons brought to life and capable of hijinks and shenanigans.

The larger ones could scale buildings and woo blondes.

The idea of apes running the planet was certainly a thought-provoking one to a kid.

As an adult, I see plenty of upside to the other primates having the chance to call the shots.

Their politicians wouldn’t be bought and paid for by corporations as what value could pieces of paper with images of long-dead humans have for apes.

Environmental issues would be taken seriously if actual monkeys were in charge.

It would also be socially acceptable to work without pants.

Plenty of upside.

But seeing the original Planet Of The Apes as a kid in pajamas sprawled out in front of the television was a riveting experience. I doubt that I stirred, mesmerized immediately by the trippy opening in space and the unusual, evocative and eerie title music by Jerry Goldsmith.

(and, if you saw the movie as a kid, weren’t you creeped out by the mummified corpse of Stewart, the female astronaut?)

The tension built as the astronauts slowly trekked across the desert, Charlton Heston opining on the condition of the world that they’d left behind and the sky flashing with strange lightning.

And then the apes arrived hunting the humans.

By the time that Lady Liberty makes her cameo, I was already wondering why I had to study for a spelling test the following week if the future was going to be spent being hunted by monkeys.

I was thrilled beyond repair to hear that Tim Burton would do a remake of Planet Of The Apes and felt sucker-punched as I watched his (or, perhaps, the studio’s) “re-imagining,” which had none of the suspense of the original.

The nine-year old in me kept a year-long vigil waiting for Burton’s movie to hit the theaters, making the actual viewing of it one of the most anti-climactic moments of my life.

I know that some time ago I had read/heard of another movie in the Planet Of The Apes series, but I banished the idea of another go ’round on the monkey planet to the dim recesses of my mind.

So I was surprised to hear of the August release of The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

I was inclined to want nothing to do with awkwardly-titled flick, shaking my head and pondering if people would even care about it despite the financial success of Burton’s version.

Then I vowed that I would not be drawn in.

And, then, I saw the trailer.

I’m not sure exactly when I finally got to see Planet Of The Apes. I do vividly recall being five or six, seeing a commercial for an airing of it, and being told in no uncertain terms by my parents that I wasn’t allowed to stay up and watch it.

However, I have no doubt that by 1975 the parents had finally acquiesced. Here are four songs that were on the charts from this week in 1975…

Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue
from Billboard Top Hits: 1975

The title character in Jackie Blue sounds like one confused girl, but I can’t help but think of pizza when I hear the song. It seems like every trip we made to Pizza Inn when I was eight resulted in one of the patrons putting down their money for Jackie Blue on the pizza joint’s jukebox.

I dug the song as a kid. It was catchy and mysterious, though, at the time, I mistook drummer Larry Lee’s falsetto for a female vocalist.

America – Sister Golden Hair
from Billboard Top Hits 1975

Paloma has long expressed the belief that our eldest cat, Sam, is fond of light rock from the ’70s, especially America and such stuff does seem to capture her attention when played.

As for America, I do remember hearing a number of their hits – A Horse With No Name, I Need You, Lonely People – when my parents would have the radio on during their ’70s heyday. Though the lyrics are a bit meh and the protagonist comes off as a bit of a wuss, I dig Sister Golden Hair‘s sunny melody and catchy chorus.

Michael Murphey – Wildfire
from Blue Sky – Night Thunder

I wasn’t listening to music in 1975 aside from what I’d hear on the radio in the car, but I do remember hearing Wildfire. How could I not?

Before the first chorus, a young girl is dead and “the pony she called Wildfire” is lost in a blizzard. Oh, the carnage. Between hearing this song and seeing Old Yeller, would my parents letting me see a movie about talking apes hunting humans really been that traumatic?

David Bowie – Young Americans
from Young Americans

Though David Bowie’s Young Americans has oft been referred to as “plastic soul” which, according to Wikipedia, is a term coined by an unknown black musician in the 1960s, describing Mick Jagger as a white musician singing soul music, it’s plenty soulful if you ask me.

(undoubtedly aided by the legendary Luther Vandross providing backing vocals)

I was surprised to note the timeline of Bowie’s hits and note that Young Americans was only the singer’s second Top 40 hit in the States at the time. I’d not be surprised if, at the time, the idea of talking apes taking over the planet was less threatening a concept than David Bowie in middle America.