KING KONG (1933)
Article #85 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-9-2001
Posting date: 10-23-2001
A movie crew seeks out a strange creature on an uncharted island. There they encounter a giant ape known as Kong.
Though Ray Harryhausen is often cited as the greatest master of stop-motion animation, I have to throw in my vote for Willis O’Brien. To my mind, Harryhausen never quite came up with a character as well-rounded as Kong, who, as well as having all the usual giant-monster qualities you would expect, also has a number of nice little touches, such as his tendency, after a fight with a dinosaur, to double-check that his opponent is really dead, or the way that his expression reveals that he has no idea what is happening to him when he notices his own blood atop the Empire State Building. Willis O’Brien not only knew how to make monsters, he knew how to make them act; I consider Kong to have given the very best performance by a stop-motion being. Credit for the movie must also go to Cooper and Schoedsack, producer/directors of KING KONG; they specialized in far-flung adventure movies, and they augment the proceedings with their sense of what makes adventure movies work. (They also play the pilot and machine-gunner in the plane that downs Kong). Both Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray are memorable in their respective roles.
As a side note, I always think too much is made of the “Beauty and the Beast” connection; outside of their being a beauty (Fay Wray) and a beast (Kong) that is attracted to her, I think it has very little in common with the fairy tale of that name. This is not to say that the movie isn’t rich in a variety of other ways; after all, this is one of those movies that has been discussed (and interpreted) so often by others, that I’m not really confident that I have anything original to say on the matter.