Tuesday Oct 15 08:00 PM
Doris Duke Theatre
About the Film:
Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. USA. 1933. 105 mins.
No. 43 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest American Movies, King Kong is the precursor to today’s rock-’em-sock-’em Hollywood blockbusters, but it is as much a touching story of a misfit wanting to be understood as it is a special-effects pioneer. And 80 years after it was released, the film’s portrayal of restless natives is an interesting artifact of American social mores of the time. If you love movies, you need to see this on the big screen.
Moviemaker and adventurer Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is embarking on a mysterious sea voyage for his next big movie, but he can’t find an actress to take the risk. Lucky for him it’s the Great Depression, and gorgeous young women are starving on the street. He finds and feeds Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), promises to respect her virtue, and off she goes, the only girl on a ship bound for parts unknown. Stalwart first mate Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), doesn't want a dame aboard, but of course he’s drawn to Ann. And it doesn't hurt when Denham shoots some provocative screen tests of Ann in a racy, pre-code “beauty and the beast” costume. Far out to sea, Denham reveals that he’s looking for the uncharted Skull Island, where a monster named Kong is rumored to reign. Sure enough, the island (done in a gorgeous, old matte painting) emerges from a mysterious fog, with the natives about to offer a young girl to Kong in a spectacular ritual. The arrival of the crew ruins the sacrifice, but the chief notices the “golden woman” and figures Kong would like her better anyway.
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