Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Movie Review: "King Kong" (1933)

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Movie"King Kong"
Director: Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack
Year: 1933
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Filmmaker Carl Denham heads to a hidden island to film his new jungle picture. Once there, he finds the natives worshiping a giant ape called Kong. Now, the natives want to sacrifice his movie's leading lady, Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), to Kong, but Denham has other ideas for the giant beast. 

"King Kong" is directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, though neither were actually credited on the picture. This film was groundbreaking when it came out in 1933. It is a pioneer and a very early achievement in the special effects-driven creature feature. The movie wound up being a box office smash, grossing $900,000 opening weekend, the largest opening up to that point in 1933. The film stars Robert Armstrong as filmmaker Carl Denham, who has a special secret location in mind for his next jungle adventure film. Joining him is Fay Wray, who plays Ann Darrow, a literally starving actress desperate for any part she can get. When Denham offers her a leading role in his new film, she can't say no. Everyone gets more than they bargained for when they reach Denham's new filming location, Skull Island, especially when they come face to face with the biggest inhabitant of this land, a towering gorilla known as Kong. 

This film is an absolute classic. The stop-motion special effects used to bring Kong and the other creatures of Skull Island to life are fantastic and so fun to look at, even now in the digital age. Even though these effects from 1933 can't compare to what people can do with a computer today, there is certain charm to those that were created so many decades ago, especially for film lovers. It really is impressive the way Kong interacts with actress Fay Wray and how he moves, struggles, and attacks people throughout the film. It really set a new high bar to strive for in visual storytelling. It's a great adventure film that has some truly exciting moments. We get to watch Kong battle it out with the other prehistoric creatures in animated intense action. We also see this giant gorilla chomp down on a few victims, as well as some poor guys who wind up on the underside of his foot. It's very cool the way the filmmakers integrate live action with stop-motion animation. You don't always associate an extreme level of violence like you see in "King Kong" with classic films, but since it came out before Hollywood started enforcing the 'Hays Code,' it wasn't forced to censor itself because it is pre-code, making it all the more authentic and terrifying.

This action adventure horror has remained embedded in the American cinematic psyche for decades, and almost all big monster movies own some credit to 1933's "King Kong." It might not look like much now, but little did they know all of those years ago that this film would go on to be a massive inspiration and spearhead to all of the things we know and love about effects in movies today. An absolute must see for cinephiles young and old!

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!


  1. An outstanding achievement! Glad we can watch the proper version as opposed to the mauled Hays Code one - it's genuinely chilling!

  2. I have to see this one again. I haven't seen it since my filmschool days.