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King Kong
King Kong - The Eighth Wonder of the World / King Kong und die Weisse Frau

USA 1933
produced by
David O. Selznick (executive), Merian C.Cooper, Ernest B.Schoedsack for RKO
directed by Merian C.Cooper, Ernest B.Schoedsack
starring Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong, Noble Johnson, Frank Reicher, Victor Wong, Steve Clemente, Sam Hardy
screenplay by James A.Creelman, Ruth Rose, based on a story by Merian C.Cooper & Edgar Wallace, special effects by Willis O'Brien, music by Max Steiner

King Kong, RKO's King Kong

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
Film producer/director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) invites unemployed & innocent but spunky Anne Darrow (Fay Wray) to a boattriip somewhere to the East Indies to star in his new, sensational(ist) picture.

Still on the way to their mysterious destination, Anne falls for the ship's first mate Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), while at the destination, the natives (led by Noble Johnson) fall for the cute blonde, too. So the natives soon decide to kidnap Anne & sacrifice her to the god that lives behind the great wall that seals the natives' village off the rest of the island - & that god of course is Kong, the giant gorilla. He soon takes a liking into Anne as well (that girl really is popular around these parts of the world), & instead of just eating her up, he defends her against a bunch of dinosaurs & - as a reward for his efforts - undresses & fondles her.

The search party looking for Anne - led by Carl & Jack - runs into dino-troubles of their own, & who isn't killed by the dinosaurs is killed by Kong, until only Jack & Carl are left standing.

& while Jack manages to secretly steal Anne away from Kong, Carl, always the showman, devices a way to drug Kong & drag him back to New york - but not before the giant gorilla has laid the natives' village into ruins.

In New York, Kong is put on display to a paying public, all tied up by heavy chains, but when he is frightened by the reporters' flashlights & driven by jealousy after Anne & JAck announced their engagement, he breaks his chains, runs on a rampage through the streets of New York, manages to find & recapture Anne &, after causing some more havoc, climbs the Empire State Building with the girl.

Only airplanes can shoot the ape down now (& they do), but when the gorilla, fatally hit by a plane, hits the pavement, Denham remarks "It was Beauty killed the Beast."

 

This early talkie stands the test of time remarkably well (in fact far better than its 1976-remake)despite the fact that it has nothing really new to offer - the creature effects are quite similar to those of 1926's Lost World, also done by Willis O'Brien, while both story & characters are reminiscent of those of any number of jungle movies & serials of its time (& despite many film historians tend to say otherwise, there were darn many of them).

What makes King Kong special though is its fable-like storytelling & fairy-tale atmosphere, both of which it's quite conscious of, & thus gives all its sexual undertones just the right amount of room, without - even from today's point of view - being too overt or too restrained. So, in the end, Kong is indeed not the evil monster (à la Godzilla) he started out as but the tragic lover.

That the film succeeds on every technical level, especially Willis O'Brien's stop motion animation (which would remain the ultimate technique for bringing monsters to live for at least the next 40 years) & Max Steiner's moody music does not hurt the film either,  neither do good performances of the central cast, especially Fay Wray's leading lady.

By the way, to cut costs at RKO, King Kong was shot back-to-back with Most Dangerous Game, also starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong & Noble Johnson, directed by Ernest B.Schoedsack & Irving Pichel, which would become a classic in its own right.

& - to set the record straight - Edgar Wallace's input into King Kong was rather minimal, he was hired to write a screenplay based on an idea by Merian C.Cooper but died after only 3 days of work on the screenplay. James Creelman would take up work where Wallace had left off, but in the end Ernest B.Schoedsack's wife Ruth Rose did a complete rewrite of the screenplay, which was then brought to screen.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD