King Kong Turns 80 - Hollywood Says It's Time To Party!

From: LA Times

The RKO classic, with the memorable scene atop the Empire State Building, gets a special screening March 24 at the Pomona Fox.

It's been 80 years since a giant ape climbed to the top of the Empire State Building and held on to a tiny actress while planes flew over trying to shoot him down.

That scene in the original 1933 "King Kong" is one of the most memorable in cinema history.

"I don't care how old you are, you feel for the poor gorilla and what happened to him," said "Kong" historian John Michlig, who has written for the "Kong Is King" website.

Though there have been sequels and remakes — including Peter Jackson's CGI-driven 2005 hit — none have matched the magic and romance of RKO's original, produced and directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack.

"King Kong" stars Robert Armstrong as Cooper's alter-ego Carl Denham, a brash filmmaker who takes an expedition to the mysterious Skull Island. They find a giant ape there and bring him back to New York in shackles to exploit him as the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

Though Kong can be savage — he's not above chewing the head off a native — the giant gorilla has a soul and is capable of real tenderness when he falls in love with Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), the beautiful blond actress in Denham's film.

"I think people connect to the character for the same reason we go to the zoo to watch the orangutans and chimps — because they're humanoid," said film historian Scott Essman, hosting an 80th-anniversary screening of "King Kong" on March 24 at the Pomona Fox, where the film played in May 1933. "He is not human, but he's human in many ways. He likes the girl. People relate to him."

Thank goodness producer-director-writer Cooper didn't follow through on his initial concept for "King Kong." "His plan was get a gorilla and a bunch of Komodo dragons and just roll the film," said Michlig.

But the master showman changed his plans when he met stop-motion special-effects wizard Willis O'Brien, who created the dinosaurs for 1925's "The Lost World." O'Brien was working at RKO on his project called "Creation," said "Kong" historian Doug Turner, whose late father, George, cowrote the book "The Making of King Kong."

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Comments

  1. A screening to celebrate the 80th anniversary is nice. Though I'd like to see Hollywood really step up and see to it that O'bie & Kong got a well deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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