In fact, after a point, the movie is nothing but a series of “shocking” revelations - and our heroic trio’s reactions to them. Which makes it a great comic book movie, and the best of the Apes movies after the first. It also turned out to be the most profitable. But for me the best revelation came when James Franciscus’s character, John Brent, swapped his astronaut togs for a buckskin diaper. Holy physique, Batman! Not only did Franciscus have the looks of a comic book hero came to life but... The man had abs! And pecs! They looked like they’d been painted on by Frank Frazetta or Alex Ross. Franciscus pulling off his shirt to reveal rippling torso muscles that looked copied from the first overlay of an anatomy textbook illustration was a much more interesting revelation to me than a mutant pulling off a humanoid mask to display a monster face from the subcutaneous layer beneath.
Stills from Beneath the Planet of the Apes:
Franciscus came to prominence in the early Sixties, when Hollywood seemed determined to find and exploit perfectly handsome – manly and pretty - male faces. Guy Madison, Ray Danton, Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift, Robert Fuller, Chad Everett, Alain Delon, Van Williams, John Gavin, Gardner McKay - the list of incredibly handsome men from that period goes on for miles. Franciscus was among the hottest of these hotties, and the only blond among them. And he had abs! Sure, he wasn't as perfectly built as Robert Conrad - but who was? (Who is, even today?) As a package, Franciscus was stunning. With his honey hair and caramel complexion, that creamy white smile and those berry-blue eyes, that torso boasting two rounded scoops of mammary man-muscle topped by nipples that looked like Hershey's kisses licked down to nibble-tempting nubs, that rippling breadbasket all glazed over with sweet shiny sweat - Franciscus was a steamy, dreamy hot stud sundae.
Brent eventually meets up with Taylor (Charlton Heston's character) and the two men hug, fight (under the mental command of the aforementioned evil mutants), make up, and run off with Nova to kill Apes and Mutants.
|Franciscus and Heston: I don't see the supposed resemblance.|
As far as I know, Franciscus never appeared shirtless (or better) in his television shows like Mr. Novak and Longstreet, but he was often shirtless or in a swim suit in his movies, although nothing on the order of Beneath. Following is a gallery of some beefcake shots from his some of his other movies.
From Hell Boats