“Oh no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.” REALLY!? Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we discuss just exactly what was the cause of Kong’s demise. The newest Kong film, Kong: Skull Island released on March 10, 2017, has already grossed $148M worldwide as of March 15, 2017, proving the iconic Kong is still alive and well. Listen as we “wrestle” with the original King Kong, the 1933 classic that started it all!
Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 4 —King Kong (1933)
As is the case with many films of The Classic Era, our Grue-Crew experienced this film through the electromagic wonders of television, and we were shocked, SHOCKED we tell you, when we eventually learned it had been cut by the scoundrels administering the Hays Code. Yes, many of the most violent, people chewing scenes or most salacious and sensual scenes (Fay Wray’s dunk in the river) had been removed.
We were also in awe of Merion C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack as these adventurers turned filmmakers brought their vision to fruition in one of the most highly thought of films in history. King Kong was truly a groundbreaking film in nearly all aspects of the technology of filmmaking, from special effects to sound design to musical score. We spotlight Willis O’Brien’s stop motion animation which inspired Ray Harryhausen, as well as Curtis Delgado’s models, Harry Cunningham’s model armatures, Mario Larrinaga’s matte paintings, Murray Spivack’s sound design (Exactly how do you create the roar of a mythical creature?), and Max Steiner’s score.
And what of the acting? Cooper bragged at getting double duty from leads Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray while simultaneously filming The Most Dangerous Game (1932) on some of the same sets, but the overtime doesn’t show in their performances.
So many questions arise when discussing an 84-year-old classic. Who was Noble Johnson and what role did he play in film history? What was the relationship of Ruth Rose, one of the screenwriters, to Cooper and Shoedsack? What do the Nias Islands have to do with the film and who would ever want to go there? How do the characters hold up against current cultural norms? What themes and tropes backdrop the film? How many films did Fay Wray act in that year? What’s the connection between King Kong and Gone with the Wind?
And which of us made these memorable comments:
- “There’s one (a naked Barbie doll) in my bathroom right now.”
- “What gibberish are you talking?”
- “I’m willing to bet if you just give her a pair of pants, she could sail that whole thing herself.”
We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes The Tingler (1959), It! (aka Curse of the Golem, 1967), The Thing from Another World (1951) and Freaks (1932)
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Thanks for listening, from each of us to each of you!