King Kong is a masterpiece of movie exotica and one of the top moneymakers of the 30’s. Fortune hunters travel to Skull Island in search of the fabled giant ape “King Kong.” Enticing him with the lovely Wray, they capture Kong and bring him back to New York to become a sideshow attraction.
The rampaging ape escapes and ransacks the city searching for Wray, ending his quest swatting biplanes as he dangles from the Empire State Building in one of the most famous images in movie history.
Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack met as fliers in WWI Poland. They specialized in exotic documentaries and then adventure films with far-flung locations. Cooper later became a producer for David O. Selznick, and then produced John Ford masterpieces such as “Fort Apache” (1948) and “The Quiet Man” (1952), and one of the biggest hits of the 50’s, “This Is Cinerama” (1952).
The model that would represent the giant ape in King Kong (1933) was constructed by monster-maker Marcel Delgado on an 18-inch armature padded with rubber and sponge “muscles” and covered with rabbit fur.
The massive success of King Kong led to it to being quickly followed by “Son of Kong” (1934). There was also a 1976 poorly received remake, and the related monkeyshines of “Mighty Joe Young” (1949). It’s still a story that remains a drawcard for film-makers, in 2005 Peter Jackson directed a large scale version and 2017 brought us an action packed take called Kong: Skull Island.
USA / RKO / 105 minutes / 1933
Fay Wray as Ann Darrow
Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham
Bruce Cabot as John Driscoll
Frank Reicher as Capt. Englehorn
Sam Hardy as Charles Weston
Noble Johnson as Native Chief
Steve Clemente as Witch King
James Flavin as Second Mate
King Kong as The Eighth Wonder of the World
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