Anthony's Film Review
King Kong (1933)
A memorably exciting film, achieving so much as an early Hollywood classic...
When I look at King Kong from 1933, I like to consider it a film that was ahead of its time. The reason for that is simple: special effects. Even now, it's impressive to see a giant 25-foot ape grace the silver screen. It practically equals the beast in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake version if you ignore the technical differences. To appreciate what made the 1933 Kong so great, all you have to do is imagine yourself back in the days when American cinema was just beginning to flourish with many creative possibilities ahead.
On the surface, King Kong is an adventure story. Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is an ambitious filmmaker who plans to shoot his next motion picture on a mysterious island. All he needs is a star for his movie. While wandering New York City, he meets Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and immediately casts her. Despite a bit of reluctance, she joins Denham on a ship en route to the shooting location. She also meets a fellow crewman named John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), who has an attraction to the lovely Darrow.
Once the ship reaches the island, everyone on board is far away from modern civilization. They find that the outskirts of the island are inhabited by a primitive tribe of natives, living in front of a stone wall that is said to protect them from something monstrous. As Darrow finds out, there is a beast on the other side. When she is captured by the natives to be sacrificed, she is taken away by Kong the giant ape. The crew set off to rescue her, facing much danger and peril along the way.
In the last act, Kong is captured and showcased by Denham as the "eighth wonder of the world." But the beast escapes. Now the scramble to survive and rescue the helpless Darrow comes to New York City. Kong goes on a rampage that destroys everything in its path, taking Darrow with it. It all leads to the famous climax with Kong on top of the Empire State Building while swatting at incoming airplanes ready to shoot it down.
Going back to what I mentioned earlier, the film uses plenty of special effects. From a modern perspective of movie magic, you can easily see that it's not real. The animations of Kong are choppy and not entirely smooth. Plus, when the human characters appear on screen with the creatures, the actors are clearly moving in front of a flat screen. But these are not criticisms of the film. If you consider yourself watching it back in 1933, you can see how it was quite an achievement for its time. I myself enjoyed it a lot.
Lastly, I want to mention the unique and most important aspect of King Kong. The movie has a heart. On the outside, Kong is a monster, but notice how he protects, not harms, Ann Darrow. In fact, there are brief moments where Kong shows some affection in his eyes. Underneath this adventure/horror film is a story where one risks death out of love for someone. It is brilliantly summed up with the film's closing line that would forever reverberate for generations: "It was beauty killed the beast."
For more information about King Kong, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the 2005 cinematic remake King Kong.