With the danger of an imminent war looming ahead, Cornelius, Dr. Zira and Dr. Milo make their way back to Taylor’s spacecraft and coax it into orbit – just in time to witness the destruction of Earth by the mutants’ holy bomb. This also causes their ship to spiral out of control back through time, reversing the time anomaly that brought Taylor and Brent’s ships to the ape-dominated Earth of the 3900s. The three surviving apes splash down on Earth in 1973. At first reluctant to divulge their identities, their origins or indeed their true intelligence, their trip is not without peril: Dr. Milo is killed when he upsets a caged gorilla, and the humans are initially extremely suspicious.
A Presidential commission is appointed to study Cornelius and Zira, and they quickly become public celebrities as well, but the discovery that Zira is pregnant curtails their public appearances. So too does the overzealous curiosity of Otto Hasslein, a government scientist who, after hearing Zira and Cornelius talk about the future that awaits Earth, thinks that terminating Zira’s pregnancy, sterilizing both apes and perhaps even killing them would be best for the future of humanity. This doesn’t sit well with Dr. Lewis Dixon, an animal behavior expert who has been the apes’ main point of contact, who argues passionately that Zira and Cornelius – and their offspring – should live on, regardless of what it portends for man’s future. It’s only when Hasslein secures an order to abort the offspring that Cornelius finally decides to defend his mate more aggressively. Dixon hides the two apes away at a zoo, where Zira has her child in relative peace, but Hasslein isn’t far behind. Knowing that they can’t stay on the run forever and raise their child, Cornelius and Zira must trust their son’s future to at least one of the humans…
screenplay by Paul Dehn
directed by Don Taylor
music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cast: Roddy McDowall (Cornelius), Kim Hunter (Zira), Bradford Dillman (Dr. Lewis Dixon), Natalie Trundy (Dr. Stephanie Branton), Eric Braeden (Dr. Otto Hasslein), William Windom (The President), Sal Mineo (Milo), Albert Salmi (E-1), Jason Evers (E-2), John Randolph (Chairman), Harry Lauter (General Winthrop), M. Emmet Walsh (Aide), Roy E. Glenn Sr. (Lawyer), Peter Forster (Cardinal), Norman Burton (Army Officer), William Woodson (Naval Officer), Tom Lowell (Orderly), Gene Whittington (Marine Captain), Donald Elson (Curator), Bill Bonds (TV Newscaster), Army Archerd (Referee), James Bacon (General Faulkner), Ricardo Montalban (Armando)
Original title: Secret Of The Planet Of The Apes
Notes: Though it may cleverly pick up the story with the only characters who can possibly have survived the carnage at the end of Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Escape is actually more of an attempt to “reboot” the Apes movies in a cheaper modern-day setting: not only are contemporary locations cost-effective, but reducing the ape population to only three also eliminates the elaborate makeup needed for the first two films’ hordes of background apes. Though it’s made very clear that Zira, Cornelius and Milo escaped future Earth in Taylor‘s spacecraft, it might have made more sense for them to have used Brent‘s vehicle, which had the benefit of being both relatively intact and not submerged beneath the sea.
LogBook entry by Earl Green