Monday, January 25, 2010

78. KING KONG (1933)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Directed By: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Written By: James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose, Edgar Wallace
Main Cast: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot


Going into "King Kong" I didn't have high hopes whatsoever. I'll chalk the lack of enthusiasm up to the horrid remake put out by Peter Jackson several years ago, a remake that bored me to tears and turned me off of monkey movies for quite sometime. However, I'm taught a valuable lesson by watching the original, which is, never let a current Hollywood remake, mar the reputation of a classic Hollywod original.

Carl Denham (Armstrong) is a big time movie director, who made most of his fame going into the wild and shooting things that other director's didn't have the guts to film. Our adventure opens on a ship and Denham and his crew are about to embark on a mission to Skull Island, an island that they know virtually nothing about, except that there is something mysterious hidden there, behind a giant wall and Denham wants nothing more than to capture it on film and present it to the world. The boat ride is halted for a short time, while Denham takes off to find his leading lady, as his philosophy is: Every great picture must have a gorgeous leading woman, to give the crowd something to look at. He stumbles upon Ann Darrow (Wray) and after a cup of coffee, convinces her to join him on his expedition.

Six weeks later Denham, Darrow and the rest of the crew land at Skull Island and Darrow arrives with a new love in her life, first mate Jack Driscoll. Upon approaching the natives of the island, the crew immediately finds that they are not welcome and more so, they want Ann as their own so that they can sacrifice her to 'Kong', the primate beast who lives behind the great wall and who they fear and worship as a God of sorts. The crew break away from the natives and make their way back to the ship, but in the night the natives kidnap Ann and take her back to the island, tying her to a pedestal and offering her up to the mighty 'King Kong'. The reveal of 'Kong' himself is one of the coolest movie moments I've ever been privy to and what follows is much more exciting and awesome, in every sense of the word. The crew eventually realize that Ann is missing and make their way back to Skull Island to rescue the gorgeous Ms. Darrow. The rest of the film is nothing short of extraordinary, with the crew pursuing 'Kong' on foot through the jungle, that lies behind the great wall of the island, losing many men as Kong's wrath proves fatal and finally a dazzling rescue by the lone first mate Driscoll. But that's not the end, and if you've never seen it, I wouldn't think of spoiling it.

If I had to conjure up anything negative to say about "King Kong", it's this, and mind you, this is merely nitpicking: I believe there should have been more conflict between Denham and the rest of the crew, upon twelve members of the crew being killed by 'Kong' and one of them (Ann) being kidnapped. We're told at the beginning of the film that Denham is a bit psychotic, when it comes to these missions and that he'll do anything to get what he wants on camera. Instead of conflict, the crew squabbles a very little bit, but ultimately continues throughout the movie to follow Denham's lead, no matter what. Also, if I may nitpick about another thing, I would've loved to see more of Kong in New York City. I believe there's approximately fifteen minutes left of the movie, when Kong gets loose in the city and that's just not enough time, for what could've been an absolutely stellar scene of destruction, eventhough what follows is quite stellar in it's own right. Other than that, this movie is great and filled with countless moments of excitement, suspense and pure grandiose. I personally found myself yelling Fay Wray to "MOVE!" or "ROLL OUT OF THE WAY!!!" at certain points in the film and really everything about 'Kong' is awe inspiring. The sets are brilliant and while the 1930's certainly weren't the boom time for effects, this film makes the most of its resources and puts on a show, that even Carl Denham, would have to call spectacular.

RATING: 8.5/10 I deducted a point or so for the few small things that I said, but don't let that fool 'ya, this is still a great film and one that any film fan should definitely see.

NEXT UP: The Bitter Tea of General Yen...My first Frank Capra film in the "1001" book and one that I'll be watching via YouTube, and probably tomorrow.

January 25, 2010 1:15am


  1. I'm having a hard time figuring out why I liked this movie so much. The acting wasn't particularly good, the plot is really nothing special, character development is basically nonexistent, and the special effects, while groundbreaking at the time, are crap by today's standards. And yet it was a really fun movie that had me interested the whole way through. Somehow the spectacle and sense of adventure shine through to more than redeem any faults.

    1. You know, I totally agree. I loved this one, yet you make a great point that there's really nothing particularly great about it. Just good fun, I guess?

  2. It's a decent film, reasonably entertaining and by no means a stinker, but my major nitpick would be: If Kong is able to scale the Empire State Building relatively easily, why can't he climb the forty foot wall on the island?

    1. Haha great observation! I never thought of that...


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