King Kong 1933 Film Review
Directed by Merian C Cooper and Ernest B Schoedsack
Written by James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose, Edgar Wallace and Leon Gordon
Starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot
Released 1933 - Black and White
An eccentric film maker comes in to the possession of a map that supposedly leads to a mysterious island and a tale of a mythical beast. Along with a crew of sailors and a pretty young actress, the film maker reaches the island and finds his wonder.
Carl Denham is an acclaimed nature film maker and always gets the shot! If he wants a scene with a tiger he just walks up to the tiger and says' Look nice for the camera!'. Denham has come in the possession of a map drawn by a sailor of an Island that does not exist on any modern sea charts. He believes that this place will enable him to produce his most spectacular picture yet! Denham is keeping something secret, he has also heard that the Island harbours a mythical animal of huge proportions.
Before setting sail Denham still has to find an actress to star in his new picture and all of the agencies are unwilling to send any of their stars on an all male ship to a destination that will not be revealed. Denham goes out on the streets of New York City to find his girl and after a while he encounters Ann Darrow, a young girl down on her luck and desperate to find warmth and a good meal! Denham sells her the story of fame and adventure and journeys to exotic places, she can't resist!
Life aboard the ship is very manly and Ann is seen as a distraction and the First Mate has no problems telling her so! On board, Denham reveals his true destination to the Captain and his intentions for the voyage, the Captain is hesitant, but everyone has faith in Denam's ability to get the job done!
After reaching the Island and engaging the locals, Denham, Ann and the crew discover Kong! The Island is not only home to the huge gorilla, but a whole host of creatures from a lost time. Ann is taken by the hulking Kong as a sacrifice and the crew risk their lives to rescue the beauty. When she is eventually returned, Denham astounds them by wanting to capture Kong and take the Beast back to the civilized world!
I can't remember the first time I saw this film, but I'm sure I must have seen the 1976 version with Jeff Bridges before. I'm glad I did, because the '76 version is inferior in many ways and the original is an amazing piece of film making on so many levels.
Once you place yourself in the world of stop motion and realise that these guys aren't acting in front of blue or green screens you start to understand the brilliance of this picture. Peter Jackson's Kong would have been done this way and visually spectacular for it, but the effort to create this 1933 version must have been phenomenal. Many of the scenes that combine images of the model Kong and real time footage in the fore ground are done so well that you do forgive the little things that would otherwise spoil your viewing.
John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) who plays the first mate, gives a fantastic performance as the grizzled sea dog who unreservedly tells Ann that she is a huge distraction on a ship and that she shouldn't be there. But very quickly the Alpha Male falls for the Beauty and nothing, even a 50 foot gorilla, will stop him from keeping her safe! Robert Armstrong delivers a tour de force as Carl Denham, the uncompromising Film Maker who will sacrifice anything to get the shot that is going to make him the name that everyone remembers. Summed up fantastically when Ann and Driscoll finally escape Kong and return to the crew. They should be going back to the ship but Denham suggests using Ann as bait to lure Kong for him to get more footage and capture him!
King Kong is a movie that all film lovers should see, this film covers all the bases. Made at a time when people were just getting used to the fact that they could go to the theatre and didn't have to read as well as watch. It delivers excitement, thrills, adventure and love. Kong's emotions for Ann are probably not as obviously displayed in this version as Jackson's, but look deeper and try and engage in his devotion to keeping her safe in a monster filled jungle where everything wants to kill everything else!
Always will be one of my favourite all time watches!