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Arts & Culture

Rants and Raves: King Kong

Publicity still for "King Kong"
Publicity still for "King Kong"

It's King Kong's Birthday Today

On this day in 1933, "King Kong" hit theaters and a screen legend was born. I just want to celebrate the big guy's birthday.

"King Kong" was brought to life by co-directors by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and writers Ruth Rose and James Ashmore Creelman (from a story by Cooper and Edgar Wallace). This is my idea of a beautiful love story as the giant ape Kong falls in love with the screaming Fay Wray. But of course it's an impossible romance and the beast ends up sacrificing himself for beauty. As I kid I remember crying at the end of the film and thinking how stupid Fay Wray was for not realizing Kong's devotion to her. To me as a child, this was a tragedy on scale with "Romeo and Juliet."

Here's the trailer for the re-release of the film.

King Kong 1933 Trailer

Attempts to remake the film have ranged from horrendous (the 1976 one with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange) to respectable (Peter Jackson's 2005 one) but none can equal the original 1933 one. The painstaking and loving stop motion animation gave this original Kong his endearing charm and personality. The way his hairs rippled, the way he boxed like Jimmy Cagney, the delicate way he tried to undress Fay Wray -- all these things came to define Kong's personality and make him as real as any of the human characters in the film. (Plus none of the remakes got the character of Carl Denim right. In the 1933 film he was a con man, entrepreneur, dreamer, adventurer, and filmmaker. He was despicable at times but he also had a touch of the poet in him. He was an interesting character and not a cardboard villain.)

Technology has improved over the decades and filmmakers can now do amazing things. Yet Kong remains as impressive as ever because his makers endowed him with such a vivid personality and brought him to life with such care and passion.

So happy birthday King Kong! I still love you and cry every time you fall to your death in the name of an impossible love.