99 Min. | Adventure – Fantasy – Horror | April 1933
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Staring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
King Kong Review: Released at the height of the Great Depression, “King Kong” was the ultimate great escape for audiences. Its greatest legacy is that over seventy years later, it still has that uncanny ability to completely transport the viewer into its fantasy world. This amazing adventure film is still one of the most viscerally exciting spectacles ever made and changed the course of movie history. In King Kong, the stop-motion animation was the most amazing special effects of its day and still hold up pretty well. The amazing sense of spectacle they created have inspired some of the greatest filmmakers of their generations. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, James Cameron, and Peter Jackson wouldn’t have been inspired to make the films they made had Kong not brilliantly paved the way.
Aside from the technical innovations, you have a great music score from Max Steiner (who later scored “Gone With the Wind”) that created the template for what movie scoring could do. He paved the way for the likes of John Williams and James Horner. Movie music, too, could be an art, and Steiner was the first to realize that with “King Kong.” Finally, you have the story, which is so much more than just a B-movie serial. It’s amazing to find a special effects film that works on so many complex levels aside from the visuals. On one level this a innovative riff on the classic “Beauty and Beast” story with screen legend Fay Wray pitch perfect as actress Ann Darrow, the object of Kong’s unrequited affections.
On another level, this is gentle satire on movie making, with the reckless actions and sense of adventure and spectacle of director Carl Denham mirroring the real life adventures and desires of Kong’s producer and co-director, the mythic-sized Merrion C. Cooper. Still, on a third level, this can be seen as a fable about the greatest jungle of them all, modern civilization, brilliantly realized through New York City. Not many films of this nature could be so rich. This iconic classic was “modernized” egregiously in 1976, and redone as a loving, period-piece homage in 2005. Overall, King Kong is an excellent film.