Directors: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
Original Release: 1933
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
On Skull Island, they meet King Kong, an enormous, terrifying gorilla who takes an immediate shine to Ann. He steals her away to his cave, fending off numerous hungry dinosaurs by essentially wrenching their heads open at the jaw - yick! Eventually, the giant ape is subdued and dragged onto the ship, to be a centerpiece of a live show in New York.
I had seen this movie before, yet somehow I'd forgotten all about the dinosaurs. The iconic image of the story is Kong atop the Empire State Building swatting at biplanes but the final New York portion of the movie only lasts about 20 minutes. Most of the action takes place on the island and the lizards are just as spectacular as the ape. My pal Maurice Mitchell recently featured the movie's beautiful concept art on his blog, Film Sketcher.
In addition to the stunning visuals, Kong is also famous for its classic musical score, composed by Max Steiner, previously featured here for his work on Gone with the Wind. Kong put Steiner on the Hollywood map. He would eventually compose over 300 film scores, garnering 3 Oscars and 24 nominations. Actor/musician Oscar Levant went so far as to call Kong "a symphony accompanied by a movie." Originally, RKO didn't even want to pay for a new score, simply wanting Steiner to cobble together music from other films. But Cooper paid Steiner for an original work out of his own pocket (later reimbursed).
My Rating System:
5 = The best of the best. These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films. They're fine. Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it. It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film. An insult to the art form.