BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES
1970, 20th Century Fox, 94 min, USA, Dir: Ted Post

Three years before he directed the most somber of the DIRTY HARRY sequels, MAGNUM FORCE, reliable craftsman Ted Post took a similar approach to the second - and scariest - entry in the PLANET OF THE APES franchise. Astronaut Brent (James Franciscus), on a rescue mission looking for Taylor (Charlton Heston), finds himself caught between apes determined to wipe out humanity and a subterranean cult of H-bomb-worshipping mutants. It’s a premise that leaves little room for hope, but Post energizes the material with riveting action sequences. The result is an underrated combination of stylish adventure and bleak philosophy that seems timelier than ever in its examination of man’s terrifying potential for self-annihilation. Co-starring Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, Maurice Evans.


A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
aka STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
1946, Sony Repertory, 104 min, UK, Dir: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

A breathtaking meditation on the mercies of love and the cruelties of fate, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH stars David Niven as a WWII pilot pleading his case in Heaven, claiming that he was not meant to die and should be allowed to return to lovely Kim Hunter on Earth. Roger Livesey co-stars as the doctor who becomes Niven’s solicitor on the astral plane, with the delightful Marius Goring as a dandified angel.


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