Saturday, March 11, 2017

Movie Review: King Kong (1933)

The movie that started it all for the giant monkey tramping through New York after being captured from his native island, the 1933 film is a classic with obvious problems way beyond the dated special effects. Still, I could see how at the time viewers were entranced by the exotic location and the tale of a giant monkey with special effect never seen before. The film begins with director Jack Denham (Robert Armstrong) discussing how to get a woman for his film to make it a romance and sell more with Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher). He discovers Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) stealing a meal and proposes a deal to bring her along.

Ann catches the eye of Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) who falls for her quickly. They travel across the ocean to a hidden island where the native people also become obsessed with Ann. They sneak aboard the ship and capture her preparing to sacrifice her to the mysterious monster called Kong. The ceremony brings the stop-motion monkey who snatches Ann and runs often into the jungle pursued by the crew of the ship. The crew of white men encounters dinosaurs and dangers throughout the foliage. They quickly realize they are in over their heads.

Meanwhile, Kong marches further into the jungle, stashing Ann in a tree before turning back to attack his hunters. The eight wonder of the world tosses the men into a canyon but is unable to capture Jack Driscoll who uses a knife to ward of the paws of Kong. Jack is best by lizards of all sizes but manages to survive. Ann is also attacked by a T-Rex until Kong comes to her defense. This battle between the monkey and lizard was on of the more entertaining parts of the film and it is easy to look past the special effects. 

After the fight, Kong's affection towards Ann is apparent as he snatches her and stalks off while she screams. Jack follows Kong while Carl goes back for more bombs. Ann is continuously attacked by large snakes and giant bats but Kong fends them all off as Jack secrets away with Ms. Darrow. Carl pushes the story of beauty and the beast as Kong chases Ann out of the jungle back to the village smashing through the giant wall and killing the villagers. The director Denham throws gas bombs, rendering Kong unconscious and transports the ape back to New York in chains to show on broadway. Angered by the photographs, Kong breaks free of his chrome steel change and stomps out into the streets of New York, chewing on citizens. Kong ascends a skyscraper and snatches Ann out of a window along the way. He causes chaos and destruction as he makes his way to the iconic Empire State Building where his finally felled by planes. By the end, I felt sorry for King Kong. 

I was unfamiliar with the original story and don't often watch black and white films being more of a fan of modern special effects yet it was interesting to see what captured the imagination of moviegoers nearly a century ago. That King Kong has stuck around and still has a thriving franchise today says something for the idea of a giant monkey from a hidden island. Plenty of my favorite modern filmmakers received their inspirations from this movie and the many that followed. 

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