Planet of the Apes…The Trap-Chapter 55

The free pass that was supposed to last all week barely got us to lunch on day one.  The rest of this day we will be climbing New York street roof tops and peering out open windows. We make auxiliary plans as we finish our catered meal.

Prime rib, chocolate cake, apple pie a la mode are chased down by several containers of milk. This concludes the fanciest meal this fort has ever seen. This spread is like my lovely mother’s meals at Thanksgiving. But today is just Tuesday in the middle of the summer.

We tell ourselves we should not feel disappointed. We’ll just go back to what we do best, which is sneaking around… like we own the place.

We have a meeting to discuss what’s next for us here, and as we lick our fingers, we both agree that catering will still be a part of our day.

We develop our plans as we linger over the last bites of this meal that is fit for a king. We already know that breakfast is prefabbed and wrapped in foil, so even though it doesn’t measure up to the layout we just enjoyed, it’s perfect for kids on the go. Mini Fruit Loops boxes, little milk containers and breakfast burritos… all for the taking. So, we will just pop in and out through the doorways that are perfectly positioned next to the food tables. Just like some sort of phantoms…

It’s usually easy to grab lunches after the crew gets theirs. In fact, we quickly discover that being last to eat gets you the most food, since studio caterers don’t keep leftovers. “Take whatever you guys need” is the only encouragement we need, as Michelson catering hands us more clean plates. I feed fellow trespassers with the abundance of gourmet delights, like I’m the host of this joint.

I take enough to feed friends waiting inside New York Street buidings. Call me the “caterer for trespassers.” I barter my food services for good dope.

Being resiliant allows us to not skip a beat.

Back on set…




The Public Library…that sign was put above this entrance for Soylent Green.


The Apes caught a couple trespassers…



Above: Matte Painting… before and after of New York Street.





Apes and humans unite to save the combatants. The Apes above ground need to rely on human ingenuity to engineer an escape from the collapsed subway. The remainder of this afternoon focuses on this series of events. Trust is needed… Apes must trust the humans.

And the following filmed interactions evolve from suspicion and even gunfire towards the human rescuers to a bond of empathy and compassion as they begin work in unison towards a single cause. That is, to save one human, James Naughton, and one ape… Urko.

For Jimmy and I, it’s business as usual. Sneaking precariously close to every scene that is shot, just out of frame. The production manager is wearing a T-shirt that says Project Questor. We try to stay out of the sight lines of the director and this individual, since these are the same two that crumbled up our free pass.

We are amazed by all the trespassers. They have made their way to every building, every window and every doorway. Word spread like wildfire. Venice High kids, Culver kids, Catholic kids, and some that are simply bad kids!

I see a Sullivan kid with a rifle that an ape set down on the edge of a building. We make eye contact as he stands inside a building looking it over, I point authoritatively while gesturing. The message was received loud and clear, although no words were spoken. He swiftly put it back!

There is a lot of filming ahead and taking weapons will not be tolerated by me or this production company. Plus, I may get blamed since I am now under the microscope. I can’t have these dumb kids ruining my operation here. Ironically, while the guards keep my name at the top of their list, I become the real guardian of these treasures.

As camera angles change on this Ape/Human rescue, commotion between the camera man and the director catches our attention. As we sit, perched above the cave-in, another small group of out of control kids splinters off towards the end of New York Street.

And now, unsurprisingly, the camera picks up trespassers crossing the street during a shoot. These kids are out of control. They have to go!

There are so many groups of kids here that I am not sure who the culprits really are, but soon enough, they disappeared.

Next, in another scene, Roddy McDowall runs into some kids in a doorway, and to our astonishment, he goes inside and walks out with my pal, Gerald, and a couple of other nieghborhood kids.

He has his hand on Gerald’s shoulder. Jimmy and I are blown away… Roddy is giving all the kids clearance and is letting them all stay in the buildings as guests on the set. What a cool guy!

OK… So, only Jimmy and I are not allowed on this set anymore but every other rotten kid is cleared, compliments of Roddy McDowall?

Roddy would’ve saved us if he had gotten to us first.

Dusk ends, day one. What a day.

The Grand Central Train Station is on the docket for many scenes. So, since Jimmy and I are banned, we set up ladders on the train tracks just outside the studio fence and just adjacent to today’s filming.

This set was used two weeks ago by the Fortune company, with Warren Beatty. Extra security has been in place, since all the mayhem, in an attempt stop juvenile interruptions. That means a full dose of Big George and Bronco Bob.

We are not trespassing. Just loitering is all. Being in a high profile area, in public view from Culver Blvd and Elenda Street, we quickly attract attention from all directions; the set, all the actors, and the Culver City public. We have become a spectacle. Our hodge podge ladders of every shape and size are all leaning and positioned for fun and easy viewing.

A blur of heads and shoulders bobbing up and down is what the cast sees as they film scenes. They smile and wave at us in between takes. As the day gets longer, more ladders and kids arrive. A mob of sight seeers is on one side of the fence while actors and apes do their thing on the other side.




Maureen’s apartment is a sling shot away and she finally wanders over to join the mob. I save her a special rung on my ladder. Well, perfectly timed… here comes Roddy McDowall. In between scenes, he monkees around with us. First he acts completely like an ape, but then he reaches up with his ape hands to touch all the kids’ hands.

The director waits for his return. Everyone is watching this moment… all the actors, stunt folk and crew, as Roddy wishes each and every kid a wonderful day!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…
Edited by DQ

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