“And now, ladies and gentlemen, before I tell you any more, I’m going to show you the greatest thing your eyes have ever beheld. He was a king and a god in the world he knew, but now he comes to civilization merely a captive – a show to gratify your curiosity. Ladies and gentlemen, look at Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World.”
King Kong (1933) is more than just a great and influential monster movie. It’s been remade, ripped-off and parodied. It has influenced several generations of filmmakers and the special effects, while crude, are still effective today.
The story begins with a filmmaker played by Robert Armstrong looking for an actress for his next amazing picture. Fay Wray is duped into accepting the part and off they sail for a mysterious destination. It seems that Armstrong has a map to an island where a legendary beast lives and he wants to film it. Once they get to the island, they discover a village surrounded by a giant wall that cuts it off from the rest of the jungle. The natives that live in the village kidnap Wray to sacrifice her to the great giant beast Kong. Kong arrives and takes Wray away. Armstrong and Bruce Cabot (the ship’s captain and in love with Wray) along with the crew give chase into the jungle. They quickly discover that the island has many inhabitants. All of them dangerous. Dinosaurs populate the place and kill off some of the crew while Kong kills anything that gets in his path. They rescue Wray and capture Kong leading the film to it’s fateful and memorable ending.
Monster movies don’t get any better than this. Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (The Most Dangerous Game) keep things moving at a fast pace. And I wouldn’t trade Willis O’Brien’s stop motion effects over the latest CGI effects any day.