Released 1933 (USA)
American, in English (a small amount of a made-up “native” language, occasionally translated)
Directors - Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Shoedsack
Stars - Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
When a film crew arrives at a remote, tropical island, they discover a terrifying world of primordial beasts. Armstrong stars as the film’s director, Carl Denham; Wray as his beautiful young ingenue, Ann Darrow; and Cabot as the ship’s first mate, Jack Driscoll.
It relies too much on coincidence for my taste. [Mild Spoilers] For example, if this island is so remote that it still has dinosaurs on it, how on earth would the boat captain (Englehorn, played by Frank Reicher) know the natives’ language? Or how about when the natives paddle out to the ship to kidnap Ann and just happen to find her standing right there, all alone on the deck with no one else around? [End mild spoilers] It’s all awfully convenient in a way that screams “lazy writing” to me.
The foreshadowing early on is very heavy-handed. I suppose maybe if I didn’t know the story before watching the movie (nearly impossible, I think, in this day and age), it might not seem so obvious.
After a while, it just felt like a lot of screaming and poor decision making to me. That’s how I feel about most horror movies.
I enjoyed a lot of the dialogue. It felt really natural, like the way that people actually talk to each other.
Endless screaming aside, I thought the acting was pretty good.
I liked the special effects that didn’t involve clay. While I wouldn’t say that much of it looked “realistic,” it was impressive for the time period. I understand why contemporary moviegoers found it thrilling.
I feel rather neutral about this movie. I don’t think it’s terrible, but I don’t think it’s amazing either. It has a decent plot, good acting, impressive special effects for the time (apart from the claymation, which is terrible TBH), and fun dialogue. I think part of my apathy toward it is that the King Kong story has never appealed to me. Also, I feel that the movie lingered in the “primordial” section for too long (Do we really need to see Kong defeat THREE different dinosaurs on separate occasions?), only to rush the end. So perhaps I have an editing problem with it as well. Overall, I think it’s reasonably entertaining.
I give it 3.25 stars.