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-   -   Have you seen King Kong (1933)? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=674510)

CalMeacham 12-05-2012 08:47 AM

Have you seen King Kong (1933)?
 
...and if so, what did you think?


I casually asked around our office about this, and was surprised at how many people hadn't sen it at all, or had only seen bits of it, or had only seen it once.


When I was growing up it was on WOR channel 9 in New York all the time, usually on Million Dollar Movie, often twice in a row. Later, they broadcast it, along with Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young, on Thanksgiving, because they couldn't compete with the parades and Football that ran on the big stations. After the cut scenes were restored around 1970, the film showed up again at art houses. With the appearance of cable TV, it filled the inexhaustable maw of programming. Then it showed up when VHS became available. It was colorized and broadcast, then released on VHS, then on DVD.

It figures as a cultural icon -- the big ape atop the Empire State Building, or holding blonde Fay Wray in one hand. The release of remakes in 1976 and 2005 brought re-showings of the original. For cyin' out loud, they even made an awful sequel with Linda Hamilton.


So I was surprised to find out how little the film was viewed where I work, especially given that I'm in a highly technical field, which tends to have more than its share of geeks. And this isn't strictly a n age thing -- there are older folks who hadn't seen it either, although this does seem more likely to be younger folks who haven't watched the orighinal Kong.


So -- who hasn't seen the 1933 Kong all the way through, even once?

madmonk28 12-05-2012 08:51 AM

I loved that movie as a kid. I'm 46 and it was often on Saturday afternoons in the 70s.

salinqmind 12-05-2012 08:55 AM

I'm way old, so of course I've seen more movies on TV than the young might, and I've seen King Kong many many times. I don't care for the remakes, there's no 'magic' there.

CandidGamera 12-05-2012 08:55 AM

I've seen it, but it was a challenge to do so. As part of my self-imposed Mandatory Movie challenge, I sought out every movie on IMDB's top 250 list (then) and the various AFI top 100 lists.

King Kong was a bitch to trick down. I found a well-worn VHS copy (used) at Eide's Entertainment in Pittsburgh. Of course, a few years later, when the Peter Jackson movie came out, the original Kong finally got a DVD release.

The hardest movies on the list to see were Harold Lloyd's Safety Last, and the Freshman. But Kong was up there.

Maus Magill 12-05-2012 09:02 AM

I'm 42, and I have fond memories of watching it with my Granddaddy when I visited him in 1978.

After the Peter Jackson remake came out, my wife bought me the Collector's edition DVD, which I watched with my oldest son. He was captivated by it.

It still holds up, even though some (nearly all) of the portrayals of the inhabitants of Skull Island are horribly outdated and rather racist.

Scumpup 12-05-2012 09:03 AM

Yes, I've seen it many times. Kong's fur, which seems to have a life of its own, endlessly fascinates me,

TriPolar 12-05-2012 09:06 AM

One of the greatest movies of all time. Merian Cooper was a genius. I've seen King Kong many, many times. I'm generally offended by the remakes. They remind me of child copying a Rembrandt in crayon.

Student Driver 12-05-2012 09:07 AM

I'm 38. Seen it multiple times. TV showings in the 70s and 80s, got the Criterion laserdisc in the 90s, saw it a few times in revival theaters in the early 2000s, and got the DVD box set when it was released (tin box, paper goodies, and individually cased copies of King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young).

Rollo Tomasi 12-05-2012 09:09 AM

Seen it and loved it. I'm only 26, but my local Hollywood Video (RIP) had a pretty good selection of classic movies on both VHS and DVD, and I remember renting this one several times. I think the first time I rented it, I watched it five times, once a day for each day that the rental was good for. Great movie.

Ellen Cherry 12-05-2012 09:11 AM

I'm in the "only once" camp; I saw it as a teenager after the Jeff Bridges/Jessica Lange remake came out and I was terribly disappointed. (I was in love with ol' Jeff for years after that and still have a weakness for scientists with long hair :p)

Anyway, at the time I had a typical teen view that it was horribly outdated and hokey, and I couldn't stand the scenes on the island where Kong fought the giant snakes, etc. Also, the portrayal of the natives was distracting.

I wouldn't mind seeing it again with the more sophisticated view of earlier filmmaking that now possess. ;) I'm sure I would appreciate it a lot more.

CalMeacham 12-05-2012 09:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CandidGamera (Post 15764505)
I've seen it, but it was a challenge to do so. As part of my self-imposed Mandatory Movie challenge, I sought out every movie on IMDB's top 250 list (then) and the various AFI top 100 lists.

King Kong was a bitch to trick down. I found a well-worn VHS copy (used) at Eide's Entertainment in Pittsburgh. Of course, a few years later, when the Peter Jackson movie came out, the original Kong finally got a DVD release.

The hardest movies on the list to see were Harold Lloyd's Safety Last, and the Freshman. But Kong was up there.

the bolded part is a surprise to me. How long before 2005 was this? Most video stores possessed copies of the VHS version. The DVD didn't come out until 2005, but it was available after that. It's got to be on Netflix. I'd be very surprised if services like Comcast didn't have it in their library. There must have been a zillion copies available through the internet.

TriPolar 12-05-2012 09:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ellen Cherry (Post 15764552)
(I was in love with ol' Jeff for years after that and still have a weakness for scientists with long hair :p)

A lot of people say Jeff Bridges looks like me, so ... How you doin'?

Khadaji 12-05-2012 10:14 AM

I saw it when I was very young and I loved it(but I loved all monster movies back then.)

RikWriter 12-05-2012 10:15 AM

I am 46 and used to watch it on TV all the time as a kid. I loved it then and still have a soft spot for it.

blondebear 12-05-2012 10:36 AM

I've see the 1933 version many times. I had a giant poster/wall mural of Kong in my first apartment.

silenus 12-05-2012 10:43 AM

Repeatedly, not only on TV but as a featured film in a college class.

Quimby 12-05-2012 10:48 AM

Countless times. It is one of my favorite movies. I also watched it every Thanksgiving growing up (did a thread about it here).

For me it is like Star Wars, where I can just keep watching it over and over and never tire of it.

For the record I don't like any of the remakes although the one from a few years back had its heart in the right place, it was just too slow and boring.

Jonathan Chance 12-05-2012 10:49 AM

I've seen it several times. But I think you're right that it's harder to accidentally see that sort of film these days. More channels, more focused channels, lead people away from "I wonder what's on" viewing.

bup 12-05-2012 10:51 AM

I'm 47 and have only seen parts of it.

I love old movies, but somehow I've never seen this one.

CandidGamera 12-05-2012 10:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CalMeacham (Post 15764568)
the bolded part is a surprise to me. How long before 2005 was this? Most video stores possessed copies of the VHS version. The DVD didn't come out until 2005, but it was available after that. It's got to be on Netflix. I'd be very surprised if services like Comcast didn't have it in their library. There must have been a zillion copies available through the internet.

Circa 2001. None of the video stores near me had it, never saw it available on cable. Ordering off of the internet I considered a last resort - because it usually meant paying collector prices.

TriPolar 12-05-2012 10:55 AM

King Kong plays several times a year on Turner Classic Movies. They also have documentaries on Merian Cooper and the making of the film. I don't recall precisely, but they either ran the entire film Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life, or clips of it, Cooper's first film. His biography is impressive.

Elendil's Heir 12-05-2012 11:00 AM

I think I've only seen the 1933 original once, in a TV rebroadcast around the time the Jeff Bridges/Jessica Lange remake came out. I've seen excerpts from it a dozen or so times. I remember thinking it was quaint and the sfx were laughable, but for its time it was pretty good. I sort of liked each of the Kong movies in different ways, but none are on my personal Top Ten or even Top Fifty movie lists, and I'm in no hurry to see any of them again.

CalMeacham 12-05-2012 11:01 AM

It is indeed. If you get a chance, read Goldner and Turner's The Making of King Kong. (The boook has been reprinted in an incomplete form in recent yearsm, under a different title). Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack really did the life of Carl Denham. going out into the wild and shooting the films in the mountains and jungles. Grass was basically a documentary, shot on location. The backer of the film (a feisty woman whose own bio would be an interesting read) insisted on going along as well as they filmed the migration that forms the basis of the film. She wasn't abducted by a giant ape, but she DID break her tooth on the rock-hard bread the natives ate.

The genius of the imagery, though, was Willis O'Brien and his crew. They had already made The Lost World and were working on the never-finished Creation, a lot of which ended up in King Kong. Cooper's original idea was to use real gorillas and Komodo dragons. If they'd done that, and it worked enough to get a film out of, the result would be a curiosity only known to film historians. O'Brien made it a pop culture phenomenon.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker 12-05-2012 11:30 AM

Yep. Seen it.

Coincidentally, three years earlier, there was a movie Ingagi, which also featured a gorilla-worshipping jungle tribe that sacrificed women to him. No indication that Cooper and Wallace were familiar with this movie, but ya never know. This gorilla was apparently normal sized, but since I've never seen the movie, I can't attest to that.

Leaffan 12-05-2012 11:33 AM

No, but you could probably ask that about any movie and my answer would be "no."

Meurglys 12-05-2012 11:37 AM

I've seen it several times, but only on tv. Great stuff.
I liked the Peter Jackson one well enough when I saw it in the cinema but I've only watched fragments of it since and I finally saw the Jeff Bridges one recently and thought it was dreadful!

Little Nemo 12-05-2012 11:38 AM

I've seen it a few times, including once in a theatre.

CalMeacham 12-05-2012 11:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker (Post 15765061)
Yep. Seen it.

Coincidentally, three years earlier, there was a movie Ingagi, which also featured a gorilla-worshipping jungle tribe that sacrificed women to him. No indication that Cooper and Wallace were familiar with this movie, but ya never know. This gorilla was apparently normal sized, but since I've never seen the movie, I can't attest to that.

It was I've heard of the film, but not seen it. There was also a comedy, otherwise unrelated, called Son of Ingagi that came out later.


There are several things that have been suggested as inspirations for Kong, including an H. Rider Haggard story, and the part of Gulliver's Travels where Gulliver is captured by the Brobdingnagian mokey and taken up on the roof. There's no evidence that Cooper and Schoedsack were familiar with any of them. The plot of Kong strongly resembles one of their earlier films with a Mystery Animal (which turns out to be a baby elephant)

hogarth 12-05-2012 11:43 AM

I'm 38 and I've only seen it relatively recently (on TV), probably around the time the 2005 remake came out. It holds up pretty well. I probably had the opportunity to watch it on TV as a kid, but the idea of watching old monster movies didn't grab me at the time.

Clothahump 12-05-2012 11:51 AM

Loved it. Even after all these years, it still holds up. I'll watch it every chance I get.

panache45 12-05-2012 12:03 PM

I've seen it several times. The best was with my overly-sensitive ex, who had to leave the room in horror when the ape was abused . . . not even at the good part yet.

RealityChuck 12-05-2012 12:05 PM

It took me until I was in college that I was able to see it; WOR didn't run it at any particular time and it wasn't until I was home in the summer when they ran it in August late at night.* Loved it at the time.

I went back to it more recently, and it held up beautifully. A truly great film.

*The same time frame they ran It's a Wonderful Life, which is why I never considered it a Christmas movie.

Leaffan 12-05-2012 12:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 15765098)
I've seen it a few times, including once in a theatre.

You're a lot older than I thought.

Colibri 12-05-2012 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CalMeacham (Post 15764474)
When I was growing up it was on WOR channel 9 in New York all the time, usually on Million Dollar Movie, often twice in a row.

It would be on for a whole week at a time, every weekday night and several times in a row on weekends. When I was a kid, I watched it as many times as I possibly could. I've probably seen it 50 times. I also saw the restored version once in a theater when they reissued it in the 1970s.

Simplicio 12-05-2012 12:33 PM

I saw it in the run-up to the 2005 film. I liked it more then I thought I would. Pretty incredible how well they did the "creatures" given the tech and budget limitations of the time.

(I really liked the 2005 version as well).

ralph124c 12-05-2012 12:43 PM

Oogah Boogah!
 
Its a blast to watch this old classic. The "natives" of skull island are a hoot-they look like the usual extras in blackface. Not too much atention paid to their "language" though!
Fay Wray can really faint on command! Technically, the animation was pretty good for 1933-did it really scare kids back then?
The modern remakes are worthless.

El_Kabong 12-05-2012 12:53 PM

I've seen the original, the 1976 de Laurentiis-produced remake and the '05 Peter Jackson remake; all on TV. Odd, since I'm not really a giant ape fan, or fan of giant apes.

The original isn't exactly one of my all-time favorite flicks, but IMO it stands as an early icon of the vast potential of film to show us things that couldn't have been shown effectively in another entertainment form. Neither of the later films seem to add much of anything to the premise, other than more sophisticated special effects. Even there, I give the original extra credit for accomplishing as much as it did with the primitive effects tools available to the filmmakers, sort how I'm more impressed with the abilities of a B-17 bomber than a modern jetliner.

I do have to say that I have a strange attraction to the female leads in all three films. Fay Wray, Jessica Lange, and Naomi Watts: rowwrr.

CalMeacham 12-05-2012 12:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ralph124c (Post 15765405)
Its a blast to watch this old classic. The "natives" of skull island are a hoot-they look like the usual extras in blackface. Not too much atention paid to their "language" though!
Fay Wray can really faint on command! Technically, the animation was pretty good for 1933-did it really scare kids back then?
The modern remakes are worthless.

According to the Goldner and Turner book (and other sources), people did react to Kong, with women fainting at the Roxy. We've become more used to these things, and jaded.


I disagree about "not too much attention being paid to the language". The studio demanded "translations" of the language, to ensure that it wasn't obscene, or something. It does appear to be used consistently, and IIRC uses genuine bits of languages from the South Pa cific/indonesian region. Ruth Rose, the major scriptwriter*, was Schoendsack's wife, and had gone with them on some of their shoots. The language isn't merely random shouting. Some excerpts are printed in Goldner and Turner, and some DVDs transliterate it.



*Officially there were several writers. Edgar Wallce, the first credited, was ca major mystery writer of the time. It'd be as if Peter Jackson had Stephen King write the screenplay for his remake. Unfortunnsately, Wallace came out to Hollywood to write the script, caught pneumonia, and died. He didn't actually contribute much. James Creelman's next effort was too slow-moving and talky. It was largely Ruth Rose's version that got to the screen.

Push You Down 12-05-2012 12:56 PM

33-- can't remember when I first saw it. Probably on AMC or TCM. I definitely taped it off tv (as well as "Son of Kong")from one of those channels.

jsc1953 12-05-2012 01:04 PM

Loved it when I first saw it as a kid; love it now, decades later. I'll drop by and watch it whenever I happen to see that it's playing. Especially if I'm in time for the whole abduction of Fay Wray - tied to the altar -- bang the gong -- arrival of Kong scene, which is absolutely breathtaking and spellbinding.

If I turned on my signature, you would see that it reads "O tara vay, rama Kong".

The Peter Jackson remake is ok...but the thing I loved about it: the theater scene, where they stage a "recreation" of the native village, with music and choreography, looks nothing like the village that we saw earlier in the movie. It is, though, a complete recreation of the 1933 version, with the same costumes and music.

aceplace57 12-05-2012 01:28 PM

I bought it on laser disc about 20 years ago. it's the restored version with several censored scenes put back in. Kong came out just after the Hays Code was adopted in 1930. They removed a couple scenes for violence and a brief scene of Fay Wrey swimming nude.

Great film. I've watched it at least 5 times.

BobLibDem 12-05-2012 01:31 PM

Saw it several times, including as part of a college class. Some of the Kong scenes are great and though the animation is primitive by today's standards, they still managed to put a lot of life in the ape. Love the part where he shakes the snake to make sure it's dead, also where he runs his finger over Fay Wray and then smells it. I think the original is better than any remake.

CalMeacham 12-05-2012 01:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BobLibDem (Post 15765598)
Saw it several times, including as part of a college class. Some of the Kong scenes are great and though the animation is primitive by today's standards, they still managed to put a lot of life in the ape. Love the part where he shakes the snake to make sure it's dead, also where he runs his finger over Fay Wray and then smells it. I think the original is better than any remake.

One thing I didn't realize for many years, until it was pointed out to me, is that it's not a snake Kong fights in the cave -- it's an elongated plesiosaur-type creature. It has a long and supple neck and tail (which wrap around Kong like a snake's), but if you pay close attention it has a somewhat fatter middle body, with four flippers.

http://images.search.yahoo.com/image...mb=G.kSrW0OssH

BobLibDem 12-05-2012 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CalMeacham (Post 15765650)
One thing I didn't realize for many years, until it was pointed out to me, is that it's not a snake Kong fights in the cave -- it's an elongated plesiosaur-type creature. It has a long and supple neck and tail (which wrap around Kong like a snake's), but if you pay close attention it has a somewhat fatter middle body, with four flippers.

Son of a gun, that's right! Gotta give props to the filmmakers, given the more limited knowledge of prehistoric creatures that they had.

Dendarii Dame 12-05-2012 02:14 PM

I saw it as a child. I thought it was a bit scary in parts. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the Godzilla pictures.

Dendarii Dame 12-05-2012 02:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BobLibDem (Post 15765673)
Son of a gun, that's right! Gotta give props to the filmmakers, given the more limited knowledge of prehistoric creatures that they had.

The first complete plesiosaur skeleton was discovered over a century before.

Baker 12-05-2012 02:20 PM

I've seen it at least a couple dozen times. All things considered, the effects hold up rather well. Willis O'Brien was a genius, and his pupil, Ray Harryhausen, loved this film

One little thing I heard on a documentary once, it is arguably the first film with sound that matched soundtrack to action on the screen. Watch the scene where the Skull Islander chief stalks down the steps and you'll see what I mean.

Little Nemo 12-05-2012 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leaffan (Post 15765319)
You're a lot older than I thought.

Well, it wasn't the original theatrical run. I saw it in a college theatre.

Although I am old enough that I saw the 1976 remake during its original theatrical run.

TriPolar 12-05-2012 02:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dendarii Dame (Post 15765760)
The first complete plesiosaur skeleton was discovered over a century before.

And the gorilla had not been proven to exist until 1847. Before then it was considered mythical.

stegon66 12-05-2012 02:47 PM

Seen it more than a few times. Great movie!


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