King Kong (1976)

king kong poster 1976 remake movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Interesting modernization

Despite tons spent on visuals, still look weak

Movie Info

Movie Name:  King Kong

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Horror/Romance

Release Date(s):  December 17, 1976

MPAA Rating:  PG

king kong 1976 dwan sacrifice jessica lang

I got to get me some of that Dwan

A search for oil by an oil executive named Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin) leads to a venture to an uncharted island.  With a crew including a stowaway photographer named Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) and a rescued castaway named Dwan (Jessica Lange), Skull Island could be a new source of oil.  When Wilson discovers giant animals inhabit the island, Dwan is sacrificed to a giant ape named Kong tha tthe people see as their god.  A rescue of Dwan leads to the capture of Kong, and a decision by Wilson to take him back to New York City…as King Kong…but nature can’t be contained!

Directed by John Guillermin and produced by Dino De Laurentiis, King Kong is an action-adventure monster movie.  A remake of the 1933 original, the movie received mixed to positive reviews.  King Kong was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Sound and won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects (shared with Logan’s Run).

king kong 1976 dwan jessica lang waterfall

Horny for Dwan Kong is the best Kong

I grew up with this version of King Kong.  I can remember it airing for the first time (or one of the first times) on television and not getting to see all of it…I believe they split it over two nights.  I have fond memories of this, but realize that it isn’t the best film.  It is long and overdone, but I still have fun watching it.

The movie is essentially a straight forward remake of King Kong modernized for the 1970s.  The reason behind the expedition is oil (due to the oil crisis), and the story reflects this.  The film is long…and the movie tries to make it very epic, but much of the film outside of the appearances by Kong are forgettable.

The movie’s acting is better than the original.  It marked the film premiere of Jessica Lange (and she received a Golden Globe for Best Acting Debut).  Charles Grodin make a good capitalist villain who only sees dollars when he sees Kong, and Jeff Bridges is a charming romantic lead.  The original film has a very classic, stodgy acting pretty indicative to early films that only converted to talking a few years before its 1933 release. Here, the acting is more natural, but the presentation just isn’t as strong.

king kong world trade center

King Kong can barely climb the World Trade Center…much less straddle it

Despite the big money push, this version of King Kong doesn’t have the charm of the original film.  This movie threw all it could at King Kong.  There was a giant scale model (which ended up barely being used) for shots, but King Kong ended up often being just in a monkey suit…but at least it was designed by effects master Rick Baker and Kong was voiced by Optimus Prime himself Peter Cullen. The promise of the poster of King Kong dramatically straddling the World Trade Center wasn’t realized with a much smaller King Kong in the film…but it was a cool poster.

The 1976 outing of King Kong is impressive, but just not as fun as the original. It is interesting to see the original, see this movie, and then see the 2005 version just to see how the film evolved over time. Every version of King Kong gets me in the end when King Kong falls…This version of King Kong was followed up in 1986 with a direct sequel in King Kong Lives.

Related Links:

King Kong (1933)

King Kong (2005)

Son of Kong (1933)

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

King Kong Escapes (1967)

Kong:  Skull Island (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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