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King Kong: Eighth Wonder of the World

Updated on August 29, 2017

When Giant Apes Attack!

The giant ape King Kong, created for the groundbreaking 1933 film by adventurer Merian C. Cooper and brought to life by special effects wizard Willis O'Brien, captured the imaginations of filmgoers -- and generations of future filmmakers. Kong has appeared in several films, not to mention cartoons, books, comics, merch, video games, theme park rides, and more.

King Kong (1933)

Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack

An American film crew, led by entrepreneur Carl Denham, voyages to Skull Island, an uncharted island in the Indian Ocean populated by prehistoric creatures. The natives kidnap Ann Darrow, with plans to sacrifice her to the enormous ape Kong. Denham and company rescue Ann and capture Kong, taking him back to New York City. Then Kong escapes...

One of the most influential films of all time, King Kong is counted among the 50 best films of the 20th century by the American Film Institute. The film stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, and Robert Armstrong. The stunning stop-motion animation was created by Willis O'Brien, and the groundbreaking score was composed by Max Steiner.

Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack were inspired by their real-life wilderness treks, making their names as filmmakers with such documentary subjects as Grass (1925) and Chang (1927).

Related links:

King Kong (1933) on Wikipedia

Kong is King.net

Giant Monster Movies: King Kong and other Giant Apes (Giant Monsters on the Loose)

King Kong (1933) - Re-release Trailer

King Kong (1933) on DVD, Blu-ray and CD

Son of Kong (1933)

Directed by Ernest Schoedsack

Planning to cash in on the success of King Kong, released earlier that same year, RKO Radio commissioned producers Willis O'Brien and Ernest B. Schoedsack to slap together a sequel.

Carl Denham, running out on lawsuits following Kong's disastrous escape in New York City, he and partner Captain Englehorn escape to Malaya, where they meet the daughter of a drunken circus-owner. When they run into the sailor who originally sold Denham the map to Skull Island, they head back to the island in search of treasure...

Son of Kong (1933) - Official Trailer

Son of Kong on DVD and CD

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

Directed by Ishiro Honda

Produced by Toho Studios in Japan, King Kong vs. Godzilla was the first color film to star either of the titular giant monsters. This version of Kong, played my a man in a suit, is also much larger than his previous incarnation -- to match the size of Toho's much larger monsters.

The Dual-Ending Controversy: Many have reported that in the Japanese version of this film, Godzilla emerges as the winner. However, there is only one ending: Kong and Godzilla crash into the ocean, and Kong emerges to swim home.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) - Official Trailer

Choose: King Kong vs. Godzilla

Which do YOU prefer -- King Kong or Godzilla?

King Kong Escapes (1967)

Directed by Ishiro Honda

A Japanese/American co-production from Toho (Japan) and Rankin/Bass (USA), the film starred American actors Rhodes Reason and Linda Miller and Japanese actors Akira Takarada, Mie Hama and Eisei Amamoto). Although Toho also produced King Kong vs. Godzilla, the two films are not related.

Evil genius Dr. Hu creates the robotic Mechani-Kong to dig for the highly radioactive "Element X" -- but when the robot fails, Dr. Hu kidnaps the real Kong along with a submarine crew and hypnotizes him to do his bidding. When Kong escapes and swims for Tokyo, Dr. Hu sends Mechani-Kong after him...

King Kong Escapes (1967) - English Language Trailer

King Kong (1976)

Directed by John Guillermin

Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, the film stars Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, and Jessica Lange in her first film role. The haunting score was composed by John Barry.

Made in the energy crisis-era, this version of King Kong finds an oil executive taking an expedition to find oil on previously undiscovered island in the Indian Ocean. When they get to the island, they discover that the oil deposits are unsuitable -- but decide the giant ape would make a great advertising gimmick.

They actually built a giant robot to play Kong -- it was reportedly 40 feet tall, weighed more than six tons, and cost nearly $2 million. However, the mechanism proved too clumsy to work convincingly. As such, it's total appearances in the film add up to about 15 seconds of screen time. In the end, Kong was played for most of the film by Rick Baker in a suit.

King Kong (1976) - Theatrical Trailer

King Kong (1976) on DVD and CD

King Kong (2005)

Directed by Peter Jackson

This Depression-era remake of the 1933 film stars Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, and Kyle Chandler. Kong was portrayed by Andy Serkis through performance capture. The film won Oscars for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. The score was composed by James Newton Howard.

Peter Jackson first tried to remake King Kong in 1996. That version was in pre-production about seven months but the studio canceled it. Years later, during his success creating with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Universal asked Jackson to take another try at Kong.

In his remake, Jackson wove in several tributes to earlier versions:

* When Carl Denham (Jack Black) is wondering what actress to hire for his movie, he suggests "Fay." His assistant replies, "She's doing a picture with RKO." Denham mutters, "Cooper, huh? I might have known."

* When Denham calls Bruce Baxter (Kyle Chandler) and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) to film a scene on the deck of the ship, the dialogue is from a similar scene between Ann and Jack Driscoll in the 1933 version.

* Kong's New York stage appearance is designed to mimic the sacrifice scene of the 1933 film. The music played by the stage orchestra is the original 1933 score by Max Steiner.

* The battle between Kong and the final Tyrannosaurus Rex mirrors the last half of the fight between Kong and the T. Rex in the original film -- including the end when Kong plays with the dinosaur's broken jaw and then beats his chest and roars victoriously.

* In the original, co-directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack appear as the pilot and rear-gunner who shoot Kong. In the 2005 film, Jackson plays one of the gunners; Rick Baker, who played Kong (in a suit) in the 1976 remake, is the pilot.

King Kong (2005) - Official Trailer

King Kong (2005) on DVD, Blu-ray and CD

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      King Kong 1976 was my Favorite until this latest version of King Kong (2005)!

      Who knows, maybe "Skull Island" is really out there?!?

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Love King Kong movies.

    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 5 years ago

      Fun lens. Old movies are so fun to watch.

    • profile image

      kindlegeek 5 years ago

      Love the old movies

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      king kong holding jessica lange was unforgettable

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 5 years ago

      Nice Lens! A true tribute to King Kong my favorite is the 2005 version. Kind of holding my breath as i wait for the next re-make.

    • FreakyV profile image

      FreakyV 5 years ago from Canada

      Love this lens, thanks for writing it!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      King Kong is a favorite and always has been but I am devoted to Godzilla. Both of them were very much a part of my childhood and still rank high on my list of great movies. Great job on the lens.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I have a friend whose grandfather worked on the original "King Kong." He was an artist, and she still has some of his original drawings from the film. I think the King Kong robot from the 1976 film ended up at Universal Studios - part of the tram tour.

    • JoleneBelmain profile image

      JoleneBelmain 5 years ago

      Aaaaahhhh the classics ;) great lens, great films!

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 5 years ago

      Nice lens some really good films here. I have seen most of them but from reading this I think far too long ago. I think the original King Kong is worth taking a look at again. I like the facts about the Peter Jackson version very interesting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I always get teary eyed as King Kong's heartbeat fades.....

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice lens.