King Kong (1933)

With Godzilla vs. Kong opening worldwide this weekend and stomping into theaters and onto HBO Max this coming Wednesday, it was time to take a look at the past of the creatures. I had recently watched Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla so I thought that it was time to revisit King Kong. It had been decades since I had seen the original 1933 version so I decided to watch that over the 1976 or 2005 versions.

Of course, the fact that this is 1933 has to be taken into consideration with the movie. There is no fair way to compare the special effects, done here with stop motion animation, to anything more recent. I can only imagine what the people of 1933 thought of what they were seeing.

The classic story appears here of a film crew heading to Skull Island in an attempt to catch the images of the mighty myth Kong, only to have the lead actress Ann Darrow(Fay Wray) kidnapped by the island natives and given to Kong for a bride. The massive Kong is taken by Ann and fights off the monsters of Skull Island that want her for dinner. When she is rescued by John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), Kong chases them back to their ship, where the giant gorilla is felled by bombs. Making an extremely greedy choice, film director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) decides to return to the States with the captured Kong to create a stage show with him. When Kong escapes on opening night, he grabs Ann and climbs to the top of the Empire State Building.

The scene at the end of the movie is as iconic of a scene as you are going to find in a monster movie. In more recent films, in an attempt to make Kong the hero of his films, the Ann role has connected with Kong more, seeing that the giant gorilla is very gentle and kind-hearted when comes to the blonde actress. There is none of that here as Fay Wray spends most of the second half of the movie screaming her lungs out. It is very understandable and males a lot of sense. Again, King Kong is the monster here, where as in more recent films, he plays like the misunderstood hero. The tragedy of the ending is less so here as he falls to his death from the Empire State Building.

I was surprised how violent the film is as we see several crew members being devoured by the dinosaurs on the way to Kong and we see Kong chewing up villagers as well. Kong dropped one woman from out of a building that he had thought was Ann as she fell to her death. Kong dumped a makeshift bridge of people to their deaths as well back on Skull Island. I guess I did not expect a 1933 movie to show as much carnage as this did.

Some of the parts of the film are dated (such as the depiction of the island natives), but the film is timeless and the story is iconic. King Kong is the first of the cavalcade of films for Kong and Godzilla and I am excited to see the pair of them come to blows next week.

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