"Now you see it. You're amazed. You can't believe it. Your eyes open wider. It's horrible, but you can't look away. There's no chance for you. No escape. You're helpless, helpless. There's just one chance, if you can scream. Throw your arms across your eyes and scream, scream for your life!" And scream Fay Wray does most famously in this monster classic, one of the greatest adventure films of all time, which even in an era of computer-generated wizardry remains a marvel of stop-motion animation. Robert Armstrong stars as famed adventurer Carl Denham, who is leading a "crazy voyage" to a mysterious, uncharted island to photograph "something monstrous ... neither beast nor man". Also aboard is waif Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and Bruce Cabot as big lug John Driscoll, the ship's first mate. King Kong
's first half-hour is steady going, with engagingly corny dialogue ("Some big, hard-boiled egg gets a look at a pretty face and bang, he cracks up and goes sappy") and ominous portent that sets the stage for the horror to come. Once our heroes reach Skull Island, the movie comes to roaring, chest-thumping, T-rex-slamming, snake-throttling, pterodactyl-tearing, native-stomping life. King Kong
was ranked by the American Film Institute as among the 50 best films of the century. Kong making his last stand atop the Empire State Building is one of the film's most indelible and iconic images. --Donald Liebenson, Amazon.com
On the DVD: Although a little light on extras, this is happily the Director's Cut, restoring scenes that were censored after the film's original 1933 run, including Kong peeling off Fay Wray's clothes like a banana, and our hirsute hero using unfortunate natives as dental floss. The ratio of 4:3 is correct for a film of this age; the picture and (mono) sound are perfectly acceptable without being revelatory. The 25-minute "making of" documentary from 1992 is a 60th anniversary tribute to the film, which details all of Kong's many ground-breaking contributions to cinema, from Willis O'Brien's use of stop-motion and rear projection effects to Max Steiner's music score. There are contributions from film historians, modern admirers of the film including composer Jerry Goldsmith--who admits that Steiner created a template that Hollywood composers are still following--and a few surviving participants such as sound effects man Murray Spivak. Apparently, director Merian C. Cooper's original idea was to capture live gorillas, transport them to the island of Komodo and film them fighting the giant lizards! Thanks to Willis O'Brien's pioneering effects work good sense prevailed and a cinema classic was born. --Mark Walker
The classic monster movie following a magnificent beast who falls in love with a woman. Director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) and actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) arrive on the prehistoric Skull Island to shoot a film. While there, they encounter a giant ape known as King Kong, who is worshipped as a god by the local inhabitants.The mighty Kong shows his sensitive side by falling for Ann, and, after his transportation to New York, rampages across the city in search of his new love.