I frst saw this film on its first run on CBS. I was in junior high and a hard core sci-fi fan. I was hooked from the first scene. Written by the late great Rod Serling based on the novel by Pierre Boulle, the story is very engaging. After we are introduced to an ANSA Mission Commander named Colonel Taylor, we are treated to a roller-coaster type sequence as we see the re-entry and crash of Taylor's ship subjectively; as if we were aboard her. The abandon ship scenes are still impressive even by today's standards. It's very easy to believe we are seeing a real spacecraft crashed in the water. The next sequence basically establishes Taylor's personality. To be blunt, he is an arrogant jerk. He mentions hoping to find something better than Man. In a literal casr of "Be careful what you wish for", he spends the rest of the film trying to prove the opposite. After he and his two crew members encounter a tribe of wild, mute humans, the sci-fi element takes on a horror flavor as a terrifying horn sounds. We are then introduced to the higher lifeforms of the planet which happen to be apes. The hunting sequences are both exciting and disturbing. As we are familiarized with the film's antagonists, we get a bit of comedy relief as we hear Julius, the zoo-keeper say "Human see, human do" The simian characters are all wonderfully written and acted.
I had heard many times about the ending, but actually seeing Miss Liberty half buried and weathered like that was still a shock. CBS edited Heston's agonized reaction to merely "DAMN YOU!!". I didn't hear the uncut version until I rented it on VHS about 2 decades later when I got my first VCR. The new Apes films are well made but I will always prefer this one. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it.