King Kong (1933)
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Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper, Merian C. Cooper
James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose
Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, Sam Hardy, Noble Johnson, James Flavin, Steve Clemente
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|Movie Review by James |
May 8th, 2019
Whenever someone thinks of a giant movie monster, they usually go for characters like Godzilla, The Blob, or others of that nature. But we have to recognize the original giant movie monster: King Kong. Debuting in 1933's self-titled "King Kong", this great ape may not have been a big hit at first, but became popular enough to spawn its own franchise. The question still remains: how does the original hold up after 85 years since its release? Still damn well. There have been imitators, remakes, and even a crossover with Godzilla, but nothing can still match the original Kong. "King Kong" is a marvelous spectacle that anyone who loves monsters, needs to see.
The story involves filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), going on a mysterious voyage to a southeastern island that nobody knows but him. He recruits a young woman named Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), whom Carl casts as the leading lady. When they arrive at the mysterious island, Carl and the crew encounter a group of natives making a sacrifice to a monster. Late in the night, the natives capture Ann, offering her to become the sacrifice to the monster known as King Kong. Now, Carl and his crew must rescue Ann and hopefully bring back Kong to New York in order to gain some publicity.
What can be said about "King Kong" that hasn't been said already? Nearly everything about this film is perfect. Let's start with some of the more little things before getting into the major stuff.
For starters, the story is simply iconic. Sure, it's a story that we've heard before, but when it happens, it's really interesting. The tale of beauty and the beast is simple, and easy to understand for most audiences. The only problem with this angle is that the human romance between Ann and John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) is kind of uninteresting. The stuff with Ann and Kong is unique, and really captures the look of the old silent days where no dialogue is needed and only expressions are required.
The direction from both Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack is really crazy when you think about it. One guy handled the story (Cooper), and the other helped out along the way (Schoedsack). The chemistry here is amazing.
The acting is pretty good, too. Wray made a name for herself with this role. And everyone else is good in their respective roles. Although, there are certain characters, most notably the natives, that are seen as somewhat racist. But consider the time period of when this movie came out; we didn't have a clear understanding of how cultures should be represented in media.
The music by Max Steiner is both chilling and haunting at the same time. It conveys a sense of opera and excitement coming from the orchestration. It truly is epic.
But of course, we can't talk about "King Kong" without the special effects. Sure they are somewhat dated, but that presents the beauty in them. Willis O'Brien, bless this man, for unveiling to the world one of cinema's greatest achievements. The stop motion is still amazing after so many years. The fights with the T-Rex and the climatic battle atop the Empire State Building are some of the most iconic moments in film history. From puppets, to animatronic devices, to early screen blending (taking the stop motion and putting it against the filmed background), to miniatures, "King Kong" is a visual treat that needs to be seen.
Finally, the black and white cinematography is gorgeous to look at. It sets the mood for that old time feeling of being thrown back in time to see movies as sort of this escapist feeling. And with "King Kong" it works well to the film's advantage.
"King Kong" is a cultural phenomenon. Unfortunately, while many people have heard of The Eighth Wonder of the World, they really haven't seen it. The last line of the movie says it best: It was beauty that killed the beast. "King Kong" is marvelous production that needs to be seen. If you love monsters or film in general, then this film is perfect for you.
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