King Kong (movie, 1933)

King Kong is a fantastic film American in black and white and produced by Merian Caldwell Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack Beaumont on the screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose from an idea of Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace , starring Fay Wray in the role of an actress engaged by director Robert Armstrong and protected by sailor Bruce Cabot . Produced and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures , this film was released onin the United States , after a premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York on March 7 , which was a huge success and launched the myth of King Kong in popular culture.

In 1991 , King Kong was selected for the National Film Registry , by the National Film Preservation Board, for conservation at the US Library of Congress because of its “cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance.” King Kong knew twice , one in 1976 and another in 2005.

In France , distributed by the Temple Theater, he was released on.


In 1930 , filmmaker Carl Denham plans to make a film about the mysterious “Skull Island” (Island of the Skull) after coming into possession of a map with its existence off Sumatra . After hiring an unemployed young woman, Ann Darrow, in Denham, Denham embarked with her crew on the SS Venture ship commanded by Captain Englehorn, en route to the Indian Ocean . During the trip, Ann falls in love with the second of the crew, Jack Driscoll.

Explorers soon discover Skull Island , a piece of land populated by ferocious prehistoric animals. After interrupting an indigenous ceremony, the Denham team returns on board. But the natives kidnap Ann on the freighter to give her as a sacrifice to their god Kong , a gigantic monster. Driscoll and the other sailors immediately follow in his footsteps.

Kong, who turns out to be a giant humanoid gorilla , takes Ann to his lair at the top of the island’s highest mountain. While half of his companions die while crossing the island infested with dinosaurs , Jack manages to deliver the young woman. Denham then decides to capture the gorilla with the help of Captain Englehorn and bombs of soporific gas. They capture Kong and bring him back to civilization in New York .

Chained in a theater like a fairy beast, sold to the public as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” King Kong escapes and goes in search of Ann in the city. Hunted by the army, he finds the young woman and takes her to the top of the city’s tallest skyscraper, the Empire State Building . Trapped, he bravely clashes with the air force before being mortally wounded and falling from the tower to crash into the street. Beauty has killed the Beast.

Technical sheet

  • Title: King Kong
  • Achievements: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
    • Assistants Achievements: Doran Cox , Walter Daniels and Ivan Thomas
  • Scenario: James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose , based on an idea by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace
  • Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures
    • Productions: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
    • Executive production: David O. Selznick
  • Distribution companies:
    •  United States : RKO Radio Pictures
    •  France : Temple Theater
  • Directors of Photography: Eddie Linden, JO Taylor, Vernon Walker and Kenneth Peach
  • Artistic Direction: Carroll Clark and Alfred Herman
  • Production Designer: Carroll Clark , assisted by Ray Moyer
  • Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett
  • Sound Manager: Earl A. Wolcott
  • Chief Editor: Ted Cheesman
  • Music: Max Steiner
  • Special Effects Supervisors: Harry Redmond Jr., Harry Redmond Sr., and Frank D. Williams
  • Visual Effects Supervisors: Willis H. O’Brien , C. Dodge Dunning and Carroll H. Dunning
  • Budget: $ 670,000
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Format: Black & White – 1.37: 1 • 35 mm – Mono ( RCA Photo Messaging System )
  • Genre: Fantasy , adventure , horror
  • Language: English
  • Duration: 100 minutes
  • Release dates:
    •  United States :(world premiere in New York ),(first in Los Angeles ), (national release)
    •  France :


  • Fay Wray (F: Jacqueline Hopstein ) : Ann Darrow
  • Robert Armstrong (VF: Jean Clarens ) : Carl Denham
  • Bruce Cabot (VF: Jerome Goulven ) : Jack Driscoll
  • Frank Reicher : Captain Englehorn
  • Sam Hardy : Charles Weston
  • Noble Johnson : the native chief
  • Steve Clemente : the healing wizard
  • James Flavin : Lieutenant Briggs
  • Victor Wong : Lumpy, the Chinese cook

And, among the uncredited actors:

  • Everett Brown : A native costume in a monkey
  • Ruby Dandridge : a native dancer
  • Vera Lewis (VF: Odette Talazac ) : a bourgeois at the theater
  • Etta McDaniel : the indigenous woman saving her child
  • G. Raymond Nye : a police captain
  • Paul Porcasi : an apple seller
  • Russ Powell : the night watchman
  • Roy Stewart : a journalist


Although simian in appearance, this version of King Kong can still walk upright in an anthropomorphic way and seems to have some intelligence. It was a choice of animator Willis O’Brien , special effects magician and stop-motion , who wanted to make him a “man-ape” more than a real gorilla. In the film, the character of Carl Denham describes the monster as “neither Beast nor Man” (” no Beast, no Man “). Its size varies during the film: it can be estimated at 6 meters in the island, a little over 7 on the stage taking place in New York and almost 20 at the top of the Empire State Building. Its origins remain a mystery.

Around the film

  • The pilots of the planes are played by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack , the directors of the film. We can see a certain metaphor: creators putting their own creature to death.
  • This is the same team that turns The Hunts of Count Zaroff and King Kong , including Ernest B. Schoedsack , Merian C. Cooper and Max Steiner , and, before the camera, Fay Wray who plays each of the leading roles. Robert Armstrong is not headliner but also has an important role in The Hunts of Count Zaroff . Both films were shot at the same time, in the same sets, King Kong the day and The Hunts of Count Zaroff at night 1 , 2 .
  • The film came out several times between 1938 and 1956 , sometimes with new cuts. It is only since 1971 that we can see an almost complete film (with for example the stripping of Fay Wray by the beast which had been cut by censorship in 1938 ). However, at least one scene remains invisible, one where four sailors are devoured alive by a giant spider. This scene deemed too shocking had been cut by Merian C. Cooper after the premiere of the film[ref. necessary] and only a few bits have been found. Also, on the occasion of the DVD edition of the film in 2005 , the director Peter Jackson and a team of special effects specialists recreated the scene, included in the bonuses of the DVD.
  • More than 90% of the film is made from special effects ( animation image by image , overprinting , composition of plan …).
  • The film has exceeded its budget by more than 80%.
  • The same year 1933 , Ernest B. Schoedsack carries a suite, The Son of King Kong ( Son of Kong ), where we discover that King Kong had left behind a son. Output too fast, this result was a commercial failure.
  • The film gave rise to two remakes :
    • King Kong (1976) : Directed by John Guillermin with Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges , released in 1976 . This film will be followed by a sequel ten years later, King Kong 2 ( King Kong Lives ).
    • King Kong (2005) : directed by Peter Jackson , with Naomi Watts and Adrian Brody , released in 2005 .
  • A new adaptation, Kong: Skull Island , was released in 2017. This film is part of the Monsterverse (just like the movie Godzilla )
  • Kong’s “roar” is built from the roar of a tiger rolled upside down in slow motion, reproduced four times for a duration of 30 seconds and mixed with a piece of dog bark.
  • This film is one of many references to the introduction song of the Rocky Horror Picture Show , Double feature .
  • The film by Cooper and Schoedsack invents an exclusively cinematic myth. Indeed, King Kong does not come from a literary creation despite a strong inspiration from its creators for the novel The Lost World of Arthur Conan Doyle (it is this adventure novel, located on the Andean highlands, which inspired Imaginary of Pixar Là-Haut’s animated feature film in 2009).
  • This film is part of the BFI List of 50 films to see before turning 14 in 2005 by the British Film Institute .
  • The sets of the film (the gate of the palisade) were used for the Atlanta fire for the movie Gone With the Wind (1939). Most of the sets have been destroyed for the fire to create a vacuum [ref. necessary] .

Colorized version

In 1989, Ted Turner had King Kong colorized for television. This version was released in VHS in the United States and France (Montparnasse Edition – 1991), and on DVD in Italy and the United Kingdom .


seesections “Trivia”, “Other Details”, “Did you know? “,” Quotations “,” Around … “,  etc. , may be inappropriate in articles  (February 2017) .
  • “It was not the planes, but the Belle who killed the Beast. “
  • “I tell you there is something behind this wall that the white man has never seen …”

Notes and references

  1. ↑ The Hunts Most Dangerous Game – The Most Dangerous Game (1932) a film by Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack |  [ archive ]
  2. ↑ The Hunts Most dangerous game –  [ archive ]

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