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Greatest Golden Age Sci-Fi Movies -1933: King Kong

Updated on April 30, 2009

An oft repeated movie legend states that King Kong was the last motion picture in which the famous film director Erich von Stroheim had placed his genius, before being permanently banned from Hollywood. If we believe that the film after all is nothing but a story of a damned and impossible love which is fully beyond hope, we see that the legend could very well be true.

A love story between whom? Between an actress (Fay Wray), who goes to make a movie on an very remote island where she ends up being kidnapped by the savage natives, and a giant gorilla who lives in a part of the island inhabited by all sorts of strange and dangerous animals (especially of the prehistoric monster kind). That's one helluva love story!

Snatching the actress from the hands of the gorilla will be very difficult for her motion picture crew companions, even though they do manage to capture the huge animal and carry it off to New York City. This turns out to not be the most intelligent plan ever hatched, since the gorilla quickly manages to free himself, to kidnap the girl again, and bring her to the top of the Empire State Building where he will meet his unfortunate end: machine gunned by buzzing biplanes. Of course the humongous gorilla does not die before ensuring that the actress is safe and sound.

This is a movie which firmly sits on the border between fantasy and science fiction. King Kong has gone down in motion picture history, but most certainly not due to its fairly naive plot and frankly questionable special effects, where the actual size of the gorilla varies significantly from scene to scene. The film is historic for the singular passion, and the not too disguised certain eroticism, that the "beast" has for the "beauty."

It is unfortunate that, unlike what often happens in tales on the same topic ("The Beauty and the Beast" and others of its ilk), the "beauty" does not want to have anything at all to do with the "beast", and the entire movie decays down to become a more common story of monsters, which are all bad, and are all to be destroyed at all costs.
Yet, despite everything, the development of screenplay itself is not trivial, and many sequences are especially impressive. The famous finale, in which the gorilla on top of the most famous skyscraper in the world is surrounded by airplanes, may be one of Hollywood's most iconic images. It is interesting to note that the various remakes, even with far greater budgets and special effects techological wizardry, have always fallen short of the zenith of memorability that the 1933 original possessed in spades.

1933: King Kong

Directed by
Merian C. Cooper (not shown in the credits)
Ernest B. Schoedsack (not shown in the credits)
Screenwriting by
James Ashmore Creelman (for the screenplay) (as James Creelman) &
Ruth Rose (for the screenplay)
Merian C. Cooper (for the idea) &
Edgar Wallace (for the idea)
Leon Gordon contributing writer (not shown in the credits)

 Ann Darrow - Fay Wray
 Carl Denham - Robert Armstrong
 John Driscoll - Bruce Cabot
 Captain Englehorn - Frank Reicher
 Charles Weston - Sam Hardy
 Native Chief - Noble Johnson
 Witch King - Steve Clemente
 Second Mate Briggs - James Flavin
 The Eighth Wonder of the World - King Kong


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks o! And I loved your "The Story of" :)

    • profile image

      8 years ago


      Right on.

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      The original was by far the best. I could barely sit through the latest incarnation as it was a dreary piece of dreck.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Old fashioned and not-so-sophisticated or not, I think this was the "gold standard" for King Kong. :)