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© WETA digital/20th Century Fox


The Mauritian philosopher and artist Malcolm de Chazal said, “Monkeys are superior to men in this: When a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey.” What de Chazal didn’t add is that if a monkey looked into a movie theater, he’d often see himself there too. Primates have been popping up in film as long as the medium has existed, and this month, James Franco goes mano-a-monkey in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a prequel to the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. Here are some other indelible simians of cinema.

King Kong (1933)
The titular ape taught moviegoers that size does matter — and that beauty often kills the beast.

Bedtime for Bonzo (1951)
Prepresidential Ronald Reagan adopts a mischievous chimp and attempts to raise it like a son.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The apes in this film grapple with feelings of love, envy and violence, using tools to both create and destroy.

Every Which Way but Loose (1978)
Clyde, an orangutan, coaches Clint Eastwood on swinging from chandeliers, courting barmaids and bare-knuckled brawling.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Jim Carrey introduces us not only to his brand of rubber-faced comedy but also to Spike, the movie’s scene-stealing capuchin monkey.

Ed (1996)
Matt LeBlanc was no match for this movie’s namesake, a minor-league pitching primate that was actually mechanical.