King Kong

King Kong

'King Kong' is one of those films that, even if you've never seen it before, you know so many scenes from it. It has been remade, ripped off, parodied and reimagined so many times that, as I watched it last night, I couldn't be sure if I had ever seen it all of the way through before.

'King Kong' retells the story of 'Beauty and the Beast', as filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) captures a giant gorilla smitten with Carl's leading lady (Fay Wray) and displays him in New York. I don't believe it's a spoiler for this nearly 90 year old film to say that as Kong begins to scale the Empire State Building, we can tell that this will not end well.

Let me write that again: this film is nearly 90 years old. It looks amazing. The effects, from Ray Harryhausen mentor Willis O'Brien, are fantastic, utilizing stop-motion, puppets, giant props, mattes, back projections and probably other tricks that were groundbreaking in their time. Although the fight between Kong and the T-Rex is justly famous, I was equally awed by the seamless juxtaposition of the actors and the Stegosaurus. There are many great touches in the stop-motion animation, especially as Kong almost plays with his many victims to see if they are dead. These little flourishes probably added days to the production but add so much to the sense of realism.

The acting is of its time - a little wooden in places, although the supporting cast I thought were better than the leads, notably Frank Reicher as the captain. Overall, it's an amazing achievement in film-making and simply a wonderful film to enjoy.

Steve liked this review