One film, three versions: King Kong

When I was around eight years old, one of our neighbours owned a home projector. He would fix a white sheet to the wall of his living room, and invite us in to watch films that he projected onto his ‘screen’. One of those was the original 1933 film, ‘King Kong’, starring Fay Wray. I thought it was just amazing. It was scary, (for a youngster) exciting, and the huge gorilla was so well done, even though we of course knew it was a model. The cast took it all very seriously, from the scenes in ‘Africa’, to the Ape rampaging around New York City, and the effects and performances were enthralling to me as a youngster.
When the poor beast is shot down from the top of the Empire State Building, we cried. Then asked if we could watch the whole film again.

In 1976, it was remade. Starring Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges, the story is much the same, but Kong meets his end atop the World Trade Centre instead. By this time, special effects had moved on, and the film won an Oscar for them. But even though I had also moved on, I still yearned for the simpler original, and that feeling from 1960, when I first watched it.

That wasn’t the end of it of course. Once again, in 2005, someone came up with the idea of a third remake, this time starring Naomi Watts and Jack Black. They now had all the new bells and whistles to throw at the film, including CGI, and the benefit of the two earlier versions to work from. This time it won three Oscars, but it had no heart, and felt silly to watch, as far as I was concerned. I sought out a TV showing of the 1933 film instead, and settled down to watch the only one worth my time.

In 2017, there was a film made called ‘Kong: Skull Island’, but that’s not really the same film.
I have no doubt they will eventually make another version. I’m sticking with the first one.

56 thoughts on “One film, three versions: King Kong

  1. I really like the first King Kong too. Not seen the one with Jessica Lange but I do have to say I loved Peter Jackson’s remake of it. Really enjoyed that actually. The latest movie is just stupid and the characters don’t have any substance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I reckon most young people are also going to like Jackson’s film, because that was usually the first one they saw. As the original was the first one I watched, I have great affection for it. Glad to hear you like it too, FC.
      (Are you going to post on your blog again? I’m dying to find out what you have been up to)
      Best wishes, Pete. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right there. When we first fall in love with a movie it’s very difficult to begin an affair with a remake!

        Yep I’ve got a few ideas for some upcoming posts, I’m just waiting for my day off to get to it πŸ™‚ have you read my latest post, just my overview about being in New Zealand? It’s fantastic here. Very very beautiful place. More posts to come about that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. CGI has, to me, had a very negative impact on film – EVERYTHING looks computer generated…and Jack Black was not strong enough to be the leading man in the latest version…giant apes I think should stay in the history books

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing will beat the original! It was very, very good, and at the same time incredibly moving. I remember seeing the remake in the theatres (the last one by Peter Jackson) and really wondered what the fuss was all about. It just didn’t get to me in the way the orginal did. But you are right: I doubt that this will be the last one.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve seen the Fay Wray and Jessica Lange versions several times, and have the Naomi Watts version on DVD. All three are enjoyable. However, I think they also have their weaknesses. The first one has amazing stop motion animation, but it’s not convincing in the least. In the second one, King Kong works pretty well as a man in an ape suit, but the mechanical hand is obviously an expensive stage prop. Thanks to Peter Jackson, we finally get a perfectly believable ape in the third one. However, the stampeding dinosaur scene is utterly ridiculous, and screams “Big deal, it’s just CGI!” …As for the heroine, I have to admit I’m partial to Naomi Watts. And I also have to admit that, overall, I do prefer Jackson’s film. I haven’t seen “Skull Island,” but would be interested in doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t like the introduction of dinosaurs, which reminded me of ‘King Kong vs Godzilla’. despite your valid criticism, I am sticking with the original, and giving it credit for the fact it was 1933. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This kind of feeling is the same when you read movie adaptations of famous novels. You just don’t get the same feel you do as in the book or maybe it’s good or its just not picturised like how we thought it would be!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are a bunch of movies from the 30s with “monsters” on them that are among my favourites ever and this is one of them. (The Bride of Frankenstein I adore, and I like Frankenstein as well, although prefer the Bride…). I guess some characters are just so good and iconic filmmakers and writers keep going back to them (I remember writing an essay about Tarzan many years back. And hey… The book is pretty terrible but the character has survived pretty much everything…)

    Liked by 1 person

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