Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
1933 Hollywood horror/adventure film from RKO about a gigantic prehistoric gorilla, brought from a remote island to New York City to be exhibited as a natural wonder, that escapes to cause mass destruction. It was based on a story by Edgar Wallace, and starred Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong.
The film, directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack , is notable for Willis O'Brien's stop-motion animation, Max Steiner's musical score, and actress Fay Wray's performance as the ape's improbable love interest. In the finale, which has become an enduring pop icon, Kong carries a screaming Fay Wray to the top of the Empire State Building but is gunned down by a swarm of Army biplanes. King Kong premiered in New York City on March 2, 1933. This film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
The story of the fate of many props from the original film can be found at King Kong Lost and Found. The original metal armature used to bring Kong to life, as well as other original props from the 1933 film, can be seen in the book It Came From Bob's Basement. It was on display in London until a few years ago in the now-closed Museum of the Moving Image.
Sequels and remakes
In 1976, King Kong was remade by Dino De Laurentiis. Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges starred. The film was generally panned by critics and was a commercial flop. (See King Kong (1976).) A sequel, King Kong Lives , starring Linda Hamilton, followed a decade later.
In 2003, Universal Pictures planned another remake with director Peter Jackson, best known for directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is targeted for a December 2005 release and is currently in production. Jackson says that he plans to go deeper into the personality of Kong. See King Kong (2005 movie).
The premise of a giant gorilla brought to the United States for entertainment purposes and wreaking havoc was recycled in Mighty Joe Young, (1949, 1998), but was itself similar to that of an earlier O'Brien effort, The Lost World (1925), in which a brontosaurus rampages through London.
Other similar films include the Korean APE, the Hong Kong made Mighty Peking Man , the British Konga and Queen Kong , and the American Mighty Gorga (presumably an alternate name for Mighty Joe Young).
King Kong has been spoofed many times in films and literature; one of the more effective satires of the film was by British author Terry Pratchett, whose book Moving Pictures climaxes with a giant woman carrying a screaming ape up a tall tower.
- In the original movie the gorilla is named "Kong". "King" was added to the title by studio publicists.
- The giant gate used in the 1933 movie was burned along with other old studio sets for the burning of Atlanta scene in Gone With the Wind.
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