Directed and Produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
A jungle film producer gets a map to a mysterious island. After getting there he discovers the eighth wonder of the world King Kong and decides to create a blockbuster Broadway show where people just go look at the colossal beast for $20. Seriously. That is the whole Broadway show.
Few things are better from back in the day than this classic film. The plot is fanciful and the leaps in logic are questionable, but the movie is just so much fun. What was once classified as horror is now family friendly action adventure. It appeals to the kid and the adult in me.
Today the special effects are not too good in comparison to what can be accomplished with modern techniques but when this came out the film score and the effects were like nothing audiences had experienced before. This film became a monster hit (pun intended) and saved the studio Radio Pictures at the time from going bankrupt.
Do not expect too much in the way of characterization here. You will not get it but then again who cares? You are here to watch King Kong stride about the movie screen as he fights giant snakes or a tyrannosaurus. You are here to see the mysteries of Skull Island or watch this lovestruck palooka capture Ann Darrow (Fay Ray) and climb a building.
The weakest bit in this whole movie for me is the romance between John “Jack” Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) and Ann Darrow. It comes completely out of nowhere. On the island they are just beginning the romance but a short time later during the exciting Broadway show of King Kong being chained to a structure they are getting married. Huh? It is not like it occurred months later. And Ann while on the island says to Jack “I thought you didn’t like girls” or something to that effect. I am completely confused.
I was surprised to learn that Bruce Cabot was in this movie. Bruce Cabot in my mind is forever linked to John Wayne and even though I have known it for a while I still cannot mentally connect him to this movie. This just seems so far from anything I am familiar of him doing even though I am way more familiar with this film than I am anything else that he did with Wayne. It is a very weird dichotomy for me.
This movie for me has always been a thrilling ride. I have a soft spot for movie serials, and this feels just like one. From the music to the pacing to the dialogue it feels like it was ripped right from one. And that rapid patter dialogue was so common for so long. It was a way to get a lot of story into a short run time.
Back in the day some of the things that made it to the screen were not deemed offensive but modern audiences might winds at them a little. What could be classified as casual sexism or casual racism does appear in the movie. From the natives of the island to the Chinese cook to the way every man on the boat treats Ann there is something that could offend any member of a modern audience, but we should not be so quick to flip out. It like all film is a product of its time and should be taken as such. It is not a modern film. It was made in a different time and set in that time so it is going reflect that era’s attitudes for good or for bad.
If you go into King Kong with an open mind you will be impressed by what you see. It is an inventive if by now copied repeatedly adventure film. It is a fun romp. This is a classic film that does contain some stuff that may not sit well these days but view it in the context of its time and you’ll enjoy yourself.