King Kong (1933)

King Kong (1933) is a pre-Code American monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The film introduces us to flamboyant, foolhardy documentary filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), who sails off to parts unknown to film his latest epic with leading lady Darrow (Fay Wray) in tow. Disembarking at Skull Island, they stumble on a ceremony in which the native dancers circle around a terrified-looking young girl, chanting, “Kong! Kong!” The chief (Noble Johnson) and witch doctor (Steve Clemente) spot Denham and company and order them to leave. But upon seeing Ann, the chief offers to buy the “golden woman” to serve as the “bride of Kong.” Denham refuses, and he and the others beat a hasty retreat to their ship. Late that night, a party of native warriors sneak on board the ship and kidnap Ann. They strap her to a huge sacrificial altar just outside the gate, then summon Kong, who winds up saving Ann instead of devouring her. Kong is eventually taken back to New York, where he breaks loose on the night of his Broadway premiere, thinking that his beloved Ann is being hurt by the reporters’ flash bulbs. Now at large in New York, Kong searches high and low for Ann and winds up at the top of the Empire State Building, facing off against a fleet of World War I fighter planes. Kong is distinguished for its stop-motion animation by Willis O’Brien and its musical score by Max Steiner. In 1991, the film was deemed “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

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