King Kong is one of the most important films in genre history because it inspired so many people to make their own wonderful adventures when they grew up.
Just two people who fell in love with the adventure and excitement of Kong, and became big talents in the movies themselves, are stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen and Peter Jackson. Jackson of course loved it so much, he remade it in 2005.
Kong has already been made three times, but the original classic will always be the best, and believe it or not, Kong is hitting the big 8-0 next month. We learned this interesting fact thanks to the L.A. Times, and there will be a special anniversary screening of it in L.A. on March 24 to celebrate the big gorilla’s birthday.
Kong is a classic story that has stood the test of time. It’s not just Beauty and the Beast, but it’s also Romeo and Juliet in that it’s a tragic romance that could never be. Kong’s tragic fall from the Empire State Building is one of the greatest moments in cinema history, and even though Kong was an 18’ model animated one frame at a time by simple stop motion, his original presence has never been equaled, even with Rick Baker designing the ape suit for the ’76 remake.
Kong was the state of the art effects film of its day, on the same level as Star Wars, and back in 1933 people didn’t know how special effects were done. Seeing a giant monkey going crazy in New York and scaling the Empire State Building was pure cinema magic. And like the greatest genre movies in history, people lined up for blocks to see the movie no matter what else was going on in their lives.
Kong came out during the Depression, and the movie came out during a "bank holiday," where President Roosevelt ordered the banks closed. As film historian John Michlig told the Times
, "So the banks are closed and you are telling people to come out to a movie. It should have failed, but it set records."
Especially in times of trouble, people turn to fantasy, and Kong provided an incredible adventure that captured the imagination of the world. It’s no surprise the original Kong still stands strong and has inspired so many filmmakers and storytellers to greatness. It’s a classic story with incredible effects and iconic imagery you’ll remember all your life.
To paraphrase the classic joke, where does a ginormous gorilla sit? In the lap of classic cinema history, of course. Happy birthday big guy, we still love you after all these years.