Today is the 80th Anniversary of King Kong

Pepper Mill read this factoid to me from today’s paper. I hadn’t even realized it.
Purely by chance, I’m in the process of reading Delos W. Lovelace’s adaptation of the film, which was released before the film was. Since it came out before the film was completed, it has some odd differences – the crew member who befriends Ann Darrow (besides Driscoll, the romantic lead) is an old sailor named “Lumpy”, rather than Charlie the Cook, and he has a pet monkey named Ignatz. The Giant Door has two bolts, not just one. After crossing the Swamp, Kong takes on two Triceratops, something not in the film. One of them pursues, and traps the sailors on the log bridge. The novel mentions and describes the beasties in the Spider Pit.

Some of this bled through to other versions. The Peter Jackson version re-instated Lumpy (although he has no pet monkey). The Gold Key Comic adaptation from the 1960s features the attack by two triceratops. The original film DID feature a Styracosaur (not a Triceratops) trapping the men on the log, and you can see it in some production stills, but it was excised from the film, as was the famous Spider Pit sequence. Peter Jackson, a true Kong Fan, wanted to see what the Spider Pit Sequence would look like. Besides including it in his own film, he had a version made to reproduce the Styracosaur attack and the Spider Pit sequence, and offered them as an extra on the DVD release of the 1933 King Kong.
In honor of the day, I pulled out one of my copies of King Kong. It was the 1993 release, because at the start it announced that this was the 60th anniversary of King Kong (!). In honor of that 20 years ago anniversary, there were some sort of special sponsorships from Delta Airlines, the New York Hilton, and the NYC Toutrist bureau. Interesting stuff.
The novelization, by the wa, is extremely good, fleshing out characters and filling in events nicely.

I always wondered how they got Kong onto the ship. Was that explained? It was kind of glossed over in the movies.

They actually showed Kong being put into one of the holds for the oil in the 1976 version (which would, I suspect, have suffocated him if they tried in in Real Life). The 1933 and 2005 movies sidestepped it altogether, cutting right from Denham saying "In six months his name will be up in lights – “Kong – the Eighth Wonder of the World!” to a sign saying just that. The Lovelace novel does the same thing. Denham DOES say that they’re going to chain him up, but exacty how this works isn’t clear.

The 1960s Gold Key comic adaptation shows the Venture TOWING Kong across the ocean. The back of the audiobook version of Lovelace’s book shows Kong kinda balled up and chained in place amidships on the Wanderer (the name of the ship in that version.

I suspect nobody really thought much about it, because it ruins the dynamic of Kong as Unstoppable Force vs. Everything Else as Immovable Post. If people could keep him bottled up all that time, where’s the drama in NYC? If they kept him sedated it’s even worse. What was important was to have Kong running amok amid the glories of Civilization.

I could swear I saw this version on film somewhere. Perhaps, King Kong vs Godzilla?

Don’t know about real life ship’s holds, but if I recall correctly the hold in the 1976 film is shown to have a large opening on top. Doesn’t Jessica Lange’s character fall through it and get caught by Kong?

That sounds right to me. Of course, they brought Kong to Japan, not New York.

Definitely from KK vs. G.

I knew the movie came out in 1933 but never knew the day. Interesting stuff.

Yes, but that ain’t the point – the gases build up in those holds, especially if theyve got petroleum in them, but even when they’re "empty. The gases can stream out of open holds. Ive heard that people have been overcome simply leaning over an open hold.

And, to prevent any sort of ignition, my understanding is that a lot of ships route exhaust through the ullage of petroleum holds, thus keeping out the oxygen and filling them with CO2 and CO, You’d have to clear that out before putting an oxygen-breathing creature in.

The hold of a petroleum-hauler, like war, is not good for children and other living things. Not, at least, without a major overhaul. I suspect the result of putting Kong in there would be a large dead gorilla.

I bow to your superior petroleum hold knowledge.

I thought it was very cool when RCA put an inflatable Kong on the Empire State Building for the 50th anniversary.

That recreation Peter Jackson made is awesome! This is the first I’d heard of it. And regarding transporting Kong in the '33 original, I’m pretty sure Denham makes at least one quick mention of the crew ‘building a raft’ after gassing Kong and right before he starts telling his crew he’s gonna make them all rich.

My recollection of that is that nobody was really doing anything to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film, until Robert Vicino pushed for the inflatable to be put up. (He was coincidentally involved with the company that makes giant inflatables). They did install the balloon, but the triumph wass short-lived. it developed a big tear and rapidly mostly deflated. I remember seeing the partially-inflated balloon on the Empire State Building

Here it is fully inflated, from the Jersey side:


Coincidentally, last night I saw the beginning of the Nicolas Cage movie, The Socrerer’s Apprentice (2010), with the young kid at the beginning going on a school trip on a bus into New York.
You see him scribbling stuff on a bus window with a black marker pen but can’t really see what it is. Suddenly, he says ‘now’ and the other kids see that the doodles are actually three biplanes circling King Kong, and exactly behind them is the real Empire State Building, so it looks like the scene in the film!
Neat trick that only works in movies!

edit to add words

I’ve always been fond of King Kong even though I generally don’t go in for monster/sci-fi movies.

I think it’s because of how often it played during “monster week” on the 4:30 movie. It was probably played every three or four months on various independent TV stations. Most of the other monster movies blended into a single ‘army against horde of giant/alien animals’ movie but King Kong was memorable to me. I remember how excited I’d be when I clicked through the channels and found it on. And how disappointed I was when it turned out to be Mighty Joe Young instead.

[Monty Burns] If we get him alive, we can put him on Broadway! Dead…we’ll sell monkey stew to the Army! [/MB]

Mighty Joe Young was “King Kong” with a happy ending. It was made by the same folks, right down to Robert Armstrong as the impresario, but played with a lighter touch. It’s not as good as Kong (although the rippling fur problem isn’t there – they got proper fur instead of the rabbit fur they’d had to use in Kong, and the fur didn’t show every touch of the animator’s fingers), but it has its moments.

I still think that the revelation of Joe in his first nightclub appearance (to the piano and later orchestral version of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer”) is one gorgeous piece of cinema.

I finished reading Lovelace’s novelization of Kong, and there’s one other piece of business that wasn’t in the movie, but made it into the Gold Key comic adaptation – when he’s shown in New York onstage, Kong isn’t merely chained up, he’s also enclosed in a cage. The comic shows this (and so does the 1976 version), but neither the 1933 original nor Jackson’s version do. Evidently, the Gold Key 1960s adaptatyion was based on Lovelace’s novelization.

Kong was moved on a raft. Please no discussion of the problems of transporting a giant ape across the Pacific on an open raft.

I assume you mean the WABC (channel 7) 4:30 Movie that played in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, & Conn) in the 70s? Because I watched that religiously, but I don’t ever remember King Kong being shown on it. Godzilla, Gamera, and all the Japanese ones but not Kong. Kong was only shown once a year, around Thanksgiving, on WWOR (channel 9).

That’s the right 4:30 movie, I didn’t recall that it was WABC. Thought it was PIX or WOR. I watched a lot of movies on those channels when I was a kid.They hadn’t invented the After-School Special yet.

And I suppose that you’re correct about it only being shown once a year. I know I saw it many times. I’m not sure if I was ever aware that it was a once-a-year special showing. I definitely remember Wizard of Oz being a special deal, but not King Kong.

You kids today.
King Kong was a staple of WOR’s (later WWOR’s) Million Dollar Theater, which opened with a clapboard behind a silhouette of New York City and the theme from “Gone With The Wind”* They’d sometime show the film twice in a row. It got shown on Friday Nights and Saturday Mornings and other times as well. It wasn’t until the 1970s that WOR got the idea of competing wkith the THanksgiving Parades and Bowl games by running the three ape movies (King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young) back to back. By that time there were other worthwhile properties that could be run in other time s;lots, so they didn’t show Kong as much. But throughout the 1960s (the film became available to TV after its last theatrical releasze circa 1956) Kong ran a LOT on WOR. And, I’m sure, elsewhere in the country.
The 4:30 movie on WABC out of New York City, originally The Big Show, was a 90 minute movie that preceded the news. It ran an unbelievably wide range of films, from The Agony and the Ecstacy (cut into bite-sized chunks to fit the time slot) to schlock like Little Shop of Horrors or The Killer Shrews. A lot of films that would later grace MST3K showed up there first. I can’t recall them showing the original King Kong, although they ran lots of monster films, especially kaiju, to the point where “It’s King Kong Week on the 4:30 Movie” has become a running joke in our house. (They certainly ran the Japanese films featuring King Kong, but that’s something else)

*For years, I associated that theme only with Million Dollar Movie. I was shocked to learn it was the theme for Gone With the Wind. They had undoubtedly chosen it to add some glamour and class to their Miller High Life-sponsored cheap movies, but the effect on me was to downgrade the music, so that I assocuiate it with cheapo monster films, clapboards, and, later, cinema verite of a refreshment counter attendant filling paper cups at a soda machine.