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King Kong

Poster of the 1933 Movie. The Monster movie made a splash in Hollywood, quickly becoming an American icon
King Kong is a classic 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. 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.

A sequel, Son of Kong , was also released in 1933. The story concerned a return expedition to Skull Island that discovers that Kong has left behind an albino son.

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.

King Kong also appeared in two Japanese kaiju films: King Kong vs Godzilla and King Kong Escapes .

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.

This movie also inspired a 1988 animated feature, The Mighty Kong, which starred Jodi Benson.

In 2003, Universal Pictures planned another remake with Peter Jackson directing. It is currently targeted for a December 2005 release.

The original, 1933 version 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.

Several similar films have also been made, including 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.

Last updated: 11-08-2004 07:30:15