Movie Name: King Kong
Studio: RKO Radio Pictures
Release Date(s): March 2, 1933
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
An adventure to an uncharted island led by nature film maker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) uncovers the Eighth Wonder of the World…Kong! King Kong captures Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and it is up to her love Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) to rescue her. Once Kong is captured, it is off to New York, but Denham’s plan for the giant ape might disagree with King Kong’s nature.
King Kong was directed by adventurer filmmaker Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The movie was well received when it was released, was the first time RKO made a profit from a film. The movie since had tons of releases, remakes, and even a blasphemous colorizing. King Kong has been preserved by the National Film Registry and is widely considered an early classic.
There isn’t much you can say about King Kong that hasn’t been said. Honestly, it was years before I saw the real King Kong, but like everyone, I grew up knowing all about it. I can recall seeing the TV premiere of the 1976 version of King Kong and wanting to see the original which never seemed to air in our area. Once I did get to the see the movie, I do see how it is such a monumental classic.
King Kong just has such huge scope and is a good blend of classic horror, fantasy, action, adventure, and even romance. Not only does the film look great, but it has a strong story. The movie adapts the classic Beauty & the Beast theme with a strange love triangle between King Kong, Fay Wray, and Bruce Cabot. The two part story provides a different adventure in the jungles (to entertain younger viewers), but smartly juxtaposes the jungle with the jungle of New York City. The classic showdown from the top of the Empire State Building provides a great climatic end.
Kong himself is an amazing design by Willis O’Brien. The stop-motion animation on the model is very functional, and King Kong really has a sense of life. The choices to add little animated quirks (like the often censored attempts of King Kong to remove Ann’s clothing) are very human…or animal depending on how you look at it. The King Kong model provided a base for the great Ray Harryhausen and special effects lovers for generations to come.
The acting in King Kong really isn’t anything spectacular. At this time, Hollywood really seemed to be about keeping stuff on the screens than necessarily casting the best actors. Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong were both working on Cooper and Schoedsack’s The Most Dangerous Game at the same time in addition to other movies. Fay Wray’s earns her status as one of the original scream queens.
If you were like me and never got to see King Kong, or only saw the remakes, check out the real King Kong. It is worth it. King Kong is a classic that shouldn’t be missed. It is just an important step in cinema history and that should be reason enough to see it. King Kong was followed by The Son of Kong later that year in 1933.