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King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson Paperback – 15 Nov 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre Book Publishers; First Edition edition (15 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557836698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557836694
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.1 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 999,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Ray Morton has worked in Hollywood for the past fifteen years as a writer, script consultant, and story analyst.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a fantastic insight into the various movies of King Kong. Very detailed and well told, with dramatic scenes breaking out behind the camera as well as on. I found the book very hard to put down and couldn't wait to re watch the 76 movie, once I had learned so much about it. Turns out it wasn't the flop that it has for some bizarre reason come to be known as. Each film was surround by fights and a ticking clock that added to their success rather than defeat them. Th Peter Jackson version was still being made at time to press, so their is only a short chapter on it, which is a shame, but their is enough mayhem and madness from the original masterpiece of King Kong through to the unbelievable ape pooh that is King Kong Lives. Plus all the failed Kong movies and much more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant Kong book, kudos to the author a great read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9c694aec) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c6381d4) out of 5 stars The complete KONG! 2 Dec. 2005
By John Cox - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are a lot of books about King Kong out there at the moment, but what made me choose Mr. Morton's book is the large section he devotes to the 1976 King Kong produced by Dino De Laurentiis. This was the pre-Star Wars movie sensation of my childhood and I loved reading the behind the scenes story of its making, as well as getting another peek at some Kong '76 merchandise (hey, I had those cups!). The author also appears to share my opinion that this film gets an unfair bad rap. Nice to see him set the record straight re reviews and box office.

Above Kong '76, it just great to have a book devoted to ALL the King Kong films. Sure, we all love the original film and Mr. Morton does a spectacular job covering it, but I equally enjoyed reading about Son of Kong, King Kong vs. Godzilla, King Kong Lives, etc. And a full chapter devoted Kong collectibles and the Kong movies that were never gotta love that.

If you're a Kong lover, or just want one good Kong movie book on your shelf, Ray Morton's KING KONG, THE HISTORY OF A MOVIE ICON is the book to get.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c518918) out of 5 stars THE MOST VIVID ACCOUNT OF KONG'S CREATION 5 Dec. 2005
By Tim Janson - Published on
Format: Paperback
With any big budget, highly promoted film such as King Kong, there is going to be a flood of merchandising. Already, weeks before the film's release we saw all sorts of toys, video games and more. And of course there are always a lot of books. King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson is simply the best book ever written on the history of this cinematic giant. Author Ray Morton covers the entire history of King Kong, from the 1933 classic to the 2005 remake by Peter Jackson and everything in between in meticulously researched detail. And yes, Japanese film fans, that includes the 1960's King Kong Vs. Godzilla as well as King Kong Escapes.

Morton begins the book by providing brief biographies on Producer/Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack, and sop-motion effects guru Willis O' Brien. Cooper was a true to life Indiana Jones who sought adventure around the world. A pilot, Cooper flew dozens of successful missions during WWI he was shot down and badly burned and captured by the Germans. After the war Cooper could volunteer with several other American pilots to assist Poland in their fight for freedom against the Bolsheviks, again flying numerous successful strafing missions as a squadron leader before again getting shot down and captured and sent to a prison work farm in Moscow. Cooper would later escape along with two Polish prisoners and would earn Poland's medal of bravery, their highest honor. Returning to the states and becoming a filmmaker, Cooper traveled to exotic locales around the world to shoot silent docu-dramas, all the while building ideas for Kong.

While Cooper originally planned the use of trick photography using real gorillas for Kong, O'Brien eventually was able to convince him that his stop-animation process would be the best route. Included in the book are some very rare concept paintings that O'Brien did to sell his ideas to Cooper. A name lost to time is Cooper's assistant Marcel Delgado. It was Delgado who actually built the two 18" armature Kong models. Author Morton then provides a month by month detailing of the shooting schedule. He also shares all of the state of the art techniques used for the various special effects in the movie, providing a back story to each one including the log scene, Kongs battle with the T-Rex, Kong's battle with the Pteradon, and his rampage through the native village. Also covered is the infamous, and excised pit sequence there the sailors who fell from the log are devoured by giant spiders and lizards.

Putting Kong into perspective, most "A" films of the day had a budget of $200,000. Kong's was over twice that at $500,000. A huge gamble for any studio and more so for RKO who would have gone out of business had the film flopped at the box office. As it was, the film opened to rave reviews and made over two million dollars in its initial release...a monumental figure for 1933. Samples of reviews of the period are included and the success of the film led to a very quickly produced and underrated sequel, "Son of Kong" which never has received the notoriety it deserves.

Morton goes onto cover the two Japanese produced films and while the sections are not nearly as long, they are still well-researched. A detailed synopsis of each film and full credits are provided. Morton then tackles the lackluster 1976 remake and the ill-advised 1986 sequel, "Kong Lives" before ending the book with a brief look at the Peter Jackson remake, soon to hit theaters.

For any fan of King Kong the book is a must have. Filled with dozens of color and black & white photographs from all the films, production drawings, story boards, even pictures of Kong collectibles from various eras, this book is a grand look at one of the movie's greatest characters.

Reviewed by Tim Janson
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cf2fdbc) out of 5 stars If you only buy one "Kong" book this year... 25 Feb. 2006
By Michael S. Conaway - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just as everybody's said, it's simply excellent. While the superb "Spawn of Skull Island" provides more detail on the making of the original, this book is the only one out there that covers all of the Kong films, including sequels and spinoffs. A large and fascinating chapter is devoted to the undervalued "Son of Kong", and another to "vs. Godzilla" and "Escapes". There's a making-of book out there on the 1976 "Kong", but it was written by the unit publicist and as such, while an interesting document and a unique perspective on the whole behind-the-scenes process, is much less technical and more a series of anecdotes. This book's chapter on that film goes into detail on the costumes, masks, and effects techniques used, and the following chapter is the only place you'll find anything at all on "King Kong Lives". Chapters on video releases and merchandising are also welcome.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c769aec) out of 5 stars I've gone ape for this book *(groan)* 7 Dec. 2005
By Sean Caszatt - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 1976, I was 8 years old and was caught up in the hype for the remake of King Kong. Having seen the original 1933 version on TV, I was really psyched for the new version which, according to the hype, featured a 40-foot replica of Kong that would be ultra-realistic. The reality turned out a little differently, but I still really enjoyed the movie. I even wrote a letter to Jessica Lange, the female star of the film who obviously went on to greater roles, and received an autographed picture (which I wish I still had).

With the upcoming Peter Jackson movie, Kongmania has struck me again and I ordered this book along with the collector's edition of the 1933 film.

The book is chock full of pictures, many of which I'd never seen before, and fully detailed accounts of the making of the 1933 and 1976 Kongs, as well as the ill-conceived (but still likeable) Japanese Kong movies and Dino DeLaurentiis' King Kong Lives.

Definitely written with care about the subject at hand and not a quickie cash-in on the current interest in King Kong, this book is a must for anyone who's interested in Kong, moviemaking and action/fantasy films. I give it my highest recommendation.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cbff630) out of 5 stars Great addition to your KONG libary 26 Dec. 2005
By J. Peavy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good, thorough look at the various KONG movies including the iconic '33 film. As usual, the Japanese films (KING KONG vs. GODZILLA and KING KONG ESCAPES) get short shrifted (KING KONG ESCAPES is one of my favorites), but that's pretty much par for the course with most western reviewers. Contains a lot of fascinating info on the '76 version in particular, and excellent selection of stills throughout (many behind-the-scenes shots from KONG '76 I'd never seen, and even an incredible one from the '33 that's new to me). Overall, a very welcome release and, especially at Amazon's price, a must for all Kongaphiles.
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