Movie Name: King Kong vs. Godzilla
Release Date(s): August 11, 1962
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
A drug manufacturer named Mr. Tako (Ichirō Arishima) is looking for a new angle for his product when he learns about a giant ape on a remote island. While Tako’s men sets out to get the ape, a chance encounter between a U.S. submarine and an iceberg frees Godzilla. Godzilla is threatening Japan again, and an idea to pit King Kong against Godzilla could be the chance to stop the threat of Godzilla once and for all.
Directed by Ishirō Honda, King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ or Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira) is the third film in the Godzilla series. Following Godzilla Raids Again in 1955, King Kong vs. Godzilla actually started out as a King Kong movie. The movie was intended to be King Kong vs. Frankenstein (with a giant Frankenstein monster), but Godzilla was brought in as King Kong’s adversary. The movie (like many Godzilla films) developed a cult following over the years through repeat airing on TV and is also the most successful of all of the Godzilla films.
Godzilla was a staple of weekends growing up. It always felt like Godzilla movies were airing and the “king” of the Godzilla movies would be when King Kong vs. Godzilla aired. The movie featured a showdown of two powerhouses and was the ultimate if you were a kid. The movie is bad, goofy, and boring, but I still get a thrill from the idea of the throwdown.
Like most Godzilla films, there isn’t much of a plot to King Kong vs. Godzilla. The film just has to find a way to get the two creatures together so they can punch each other. It takes too long to get to it and the fight is a bit of a letdown due to all the anticipation, but that is forgettable if you remember what it was like to see it as a child.
Thrre is a lot of discussion about the tone and feel of this Godzilla. The movie considerably lightened Godzilla and featured a lot more goofiness than previous Godzilla films (or King Kong films for that matter). It is also noted that King Kong is much, much taller than the previous King Kong entries. The Godzilla suit also was altered for the movie (the filmmakers also considered using stop-motion).
When I was growing up (pre-internet), King Kong vs. Godzilla possessed a legendary second ending. In the United States, King Kong beats Godzilla and walks off into the ocean. In Japan, Godzilla triumphed over Godzilla. I always wanted to see the Godzilla ending…but in post-internet world, that dream was shattered. There was no second ending to King Kong vs. Godzilla. The ending you’ve seen is the ending you get (though the Japanese version of the film is slightly longer).
King Kong vs. Godzilla features one of the most well-known throwdowns between two big franchise holders. Most of the fun of this film comes from childhood memories than the actual film itself. Toho followed King Kong vs. Godzilla with King Kong Escapes in 1967. The Godzilla franchised continued with Mothra vs. Godzilla in 1964.