Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
King Kong (1933)
Unlike most of the monster movies of the 1930's, King Kong was not made by Universal but by RKO and it saved the studio from bankruptcy. Whether King Kong is a monster movie or not, I've always lumped it in with Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy; but it is also a love story; a story of beauty and the beast, as producer Merian C. Cooper put it.
The movie has some innovative things in its favor - it has a straightforward story: a moviemaker goes to a remote island in the East Indies to shoot some locations for a new movie. This movie troupe includes a hot looking blond who became the big star of the picture, other than the title character. Fay Wray is a babe that would stand up with any actress today, based on her looks as presented in King Kong.
The ship arrives in the East Indies and eventually finds Skull Island in the fog. A group goes ashore including the movie maker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), right hand man Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) and of course Ann Darrow (Fay Wray). They meet the local villagers who are preparing a bride for Kong and offer to trade six of their women for Wray, a rare blond for those parts. The explorers refuse but say they will return tomorrow. The locals come in the night and kidnap Wray from the ship and set in motion the actions that play out over the rest of the running time.
Of course, their god Kong unties Wray who has been tied out as a sacrifice for the big ape and carries her off into the jungle where he puts her safely in a tree and fights various dinosaurs to the viewers delight with the stop motion action. The explorers manage to knock out Kong and return him by ship to NYC where he of course escapes and has the famous fight on top of the Empire State Building with the WWI fighter planes firing at him with their machine guns.
Willis O'Brien was the Special Effects artiste that made the stop motion animals including King Kong, paving the way for more special effects artists including the most famous of them all Ray Harryhausen, creator of many F/X monsters in movies from the fifties and sixties. Harryhausen gives a commentary on the 2006 Warner Bros DVD with help from F/X veteran Ken Ralston and inserted dialogs from Merian C. Cooper and Fay Wray.
While you can argue that the film is dated and most of the actors only OK on the early talkie, you have to admit that King Kong is a wonderful actor and pulls you right into the movie with his human facial expressions and all too human desires for the beautiful blond.
The movie is on Warner Bros DVD and the black and white movie has been fully restored and digitally mastered for a great appearance. The movie is in academy format (1.37:1) just as seen in the theaters. You can see a thin black bar on the bottom of the frame if you're watching it on a regular 4x3 screen. There is a full length commentary, as I mentioned, with F/X great Ray Harryhausen who made so many stop motion fantasy films.
King Kong may not be the greatest film ever made but it made an icon out of its title character and has been rated #193 among the IMDb top 250 greatest films.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day