Loathing "King Kong vs. Godzilla"?

by Armand Vaquer

Above, Godzilla and King Kong go after each other while demolishing Atami Castle in the process.

Over at the Classic Horror Film Board (CHFB), there is currently a topic in the Japanese Giants section titled, "Was KING KONG VS GODZILLA especially loathed in monster fandom?"

One thing about G-fans (or fanatics of any genre), there's always disagreements (some heatedly) amongst them. The subject of King Kong vs. Godzilla is one of those that brings up the passion level.

King Kong vs. Godzilla was released in the U.S. by Universal Pictures in June 1963. It as a heavily-edited version that inserted American actors to "help" with the narrative. Unfortunately, those edited-in scenes actually marred the movie. The original Japanese version plays out better as the satire it was intended to be.



I first saw King Kong vs. Godzilla at the Balboa Theater in Los Angeles in the Manchester-Vermont shopping area with my parents and friends. We sat in the balcony (photo left). I was nine-years-old at the time. It was paired with John Wayne's Donovan's Reef. (This was the subject of my first G-FAN article, by the way.)

While my parents and us kids laughed at the mangy King Kong suit, we were still greatly entertained by the movie. It was my first Godzilla movie to be seen on the big screen.

The premise of the thread, "Was KING KONG VS GODZILLA especially loathed in monster fandom?" really doesn't have any legs as there was no "fandom" back in 1963. Maybe a few monster elites didn't much care for it (Forrest J. Ackerman was one, so maybe that's why he came up with the phony "two-endings" tale), but to younger teens and pre-teens (and some adults), King Kong vs. Godzilla was good, mindless entertainment. If anyone "loathes" the movie, it is mainly by revisionist fans of today. King Kong vs. Godzilla still remains the boxoffice champ (by number of tickets sold) of all the Toho-produced Godzilla movies.

As an adult, I still find it fun and entertaining, but I now prefer the Japanese version.

A few side notes:

Back in 1972, I was perusing the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald-Examiner's sports section and on page two, there was a doctored photo of King Kong and Godzilla in a boxing ring wearing boxing gloves. It was to hype KABC-TV Channel 7's airing of the movie. That got me wanting to see it again.

Some of the locations in King Kong vs. Godzilla are covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. They include Atami Castle, Diet Building, Mt. Fuji and Ginza (interestingly, the overhead tracking shots of Ginza are only in the American version).

The Balboa Theater still stands, but it had been converted into a mosque and is now up for sale. The theater opened in April 1926. It was once part of the Fox-West Coast Theater chain.

3 comments:

  1. The "2 endings" fable often gets attributed to Forest J. Ackerman, but is that accurate? The first and only place I ever saw the fable was in THE MONSTER TIMES, where Godzilla was somewhat of a staple and the fable was often repeated.

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  2. I had the issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland where the two-endings "fable" was first published back in the mid-1960s.

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  3. Ah, thanks for the confirmation. It sounds like FJA may have originated it and then MONSTER TIMES made it even more widespread!

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