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Author Topic: King Kong 1933
Craig Hamilton
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 501
From: Luton
Registered: Sep 2004


 - posted June 18, 2005 03:51 AM      Profile for Craig Hamilton   Email Craig Hamilton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"And lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty.
And it stayed its hand from killing.
And from that day, it was as one, dead."
- Old Arabian Proverb

When released in 1933, King Kong was greeted with unprecedented amazement. State-of-the-art visual effects, an entertaining story, and a touching ending combined to bequeath upon this film the coveted label of a "classic." It its era -- and, indeed, for decades after -- no monster movie (whether made in the U.S., Japan, or elsewhere) approached the lofty perch of this one. The title character, the creation of stop-motion effects wizard Willis O'Brien (mentor to Ray Harryhausen), captivated audiences and started a world-wide love affair with a giant ape.
The plot is reasonably straightforward -- not a bad thing for a monster movie. A film crew headed by Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) arrives at the mysterious Skull Island to do some location shooting for a new picture. However, the dark-skinned natives take a liking to Denham's leading lady, Ann Darrow (Fay Wray, in the role that immortalized her scream), and kidnap her as an offering to their god, Kong. Just as the cavalry, led by Denham and a hunky sailor named Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), rushes in to save Ann, Kong - a 25-foot high ape (actually, his size varies throughout the film) - makes his appearance, snatching his prize from the altar and heading off into the jungle. Denham, Driscoll, and a search party set off in pursuit. Various encounters with Kong and a series of prehistoric relics decimate the group. In the meantime, we get to see battles between the giant ape and several dinosaurs. Eventually, Driscoll sneaks Ann away from Kong and, when the beast arrives at the natives' village to retrieve her, Denham uses sleeping gas to capture him.
Weeks later, a live show opens in New York City's Radio City Music Hall, with a chained Kong as the main attraction. He is, as the marquee proclaims, "The Eighth Wonder of the World." Despite Denham's best precautions, Kong breaks free on opening night, grabs Ann, wreaks havoc in the city, then climbs to the top of the Empire State Building. There, high atop New York, in one of cinema's most unforgettable moments, Kong fights a duel to the death with a group of biplanes.
The story stands up pretty well today. In fact, with the exception of a few "modernizing" changes, the basic frame was left intact for the 1976 Dino DeLaurentiis remake. Character development, on the other hand, is nonexistent. Strange as it might sound, Kong is the most thoroughly explored personality in the film. Driscoll and Ann are types (the dashing hero and the damsel in distress), and Denham isn't given much more depth (the ruthless movie maker who's actually not such a bad guy).
The acting is not among King Kong's strengths. What was acceptable in 1933 is barely adequate in comparison with the top performances of today. It's a challenge to accept any of the three leads as something other than an actor reciting lines. And, as for the actual words they are expected to say... How's this for dialogue: "Some big, hard-boiled egg gets a look at a pretty face and bang! - he cracks up and goes sappy." But perhaps such corniness is part of King Kong's enduring charm.
The ending is, of course, the best-known part of King Kong. The scene with Kong grasping the top of the Empire State Building with one hand while swiping futilely at the attacking bi-planes with the other makes a statement about man's indiscriminate destruction of nature on the path to technological mastery. Kong was king of Skull Island, but, on Manhattan Island, he is a rampaging nuisance to be dealt with. It's not so much beauty that killed the beast, as it is the inexorable march of progress. In the world of man, a mythical beast like Kong has no place.
On a purely techincal level, it's impossible to deny that King Kong's special effects are not as polished or jaw-droppingly amazing as those featured in Jurassic Park. But movies are not received exclusively on the basis of visual technique. Computers formed the monsters in Spielberg's dino-epic; everything in Kong was painstakingly manipulated by hand. Recognition of this makes viewing King Kong all the more special. The dinosaurs of the '90s look real; the creatures brought to life by Willis O'Brien's stop-motion look fantastical. It's possible to savor the craft that went into creating the 1933 film. By now, it has become a routine matter of maneuvering pixels.
Despite its various deficiencies and occasionally antiquated style, King Kong remains not only a milestone of movie-making, but a magical experience. Ultimately, the mystique of the film lies not so much in what it offers today, but what it has contributed during the course of the last six decades. Watching King Kong reminds us of what movies once were and what they have the potential to be, and that's something that Jurassic Park will never be able to do.

Craig

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Jan Bister
Darth 8mm

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From: Ohio, USA
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 - posted June 18, 2005 09:48 AM      Profile for Jan Bister   Email Jan Bister   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That was a great review and a fun read - but just one question: was there a particular super-8 print of this feature that you based the review on? [Wink]

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Call me Phoenix. *dusts off the ashes*

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Craig Hamilton
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Luton
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 - posted June 18, 2005 10:05 AM      Profile for Craig Hamilton   Email Craig Hamilton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Jan, the feature that I have is the 6x400ft version. As this was supplied in a plain box I am unable to say off hand who the film distributor is. The print quality is excellent and the contrast & definition is superb. I personally love this film and it looks spectacular projected on a big home screen.
Ian at Perry’s has a copy for sale on his June list on the forum; however, he is currently basking in the French sunshine watching the Le-Mans 24hr race as I type (lucky sod)

Craig

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I dream of becoming a dealer!!!!!!
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Douglas Meltzer
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From: New York, NY, USA
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 - posted June 18, 2005 07:55 PM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Craig,

Nice write up! Though, like Jan, I was waiting for a review of the quality of your print.

I'm assuming that you have one of the many (it was a huge seller) full length prints put out by Mountain Films. They released a number of features from RKO studios, including "Citizen Kane". Like yours, my print is of very high quality and Kong is one of those rare films whose magic and charm still shines brightly after 70+ years.

Doug

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Craig Hamilton
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From: Luton
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 - posted June 19, 2005 07:02 AM      Profile for Craig Hamilton   Email Craig Hamilton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Doug, I can now confirm that my print is one of the Mountain releases. Supplied on 6 x 400ft reels. Print quality is sharp and crisp, with no yellowing or green tints anywhere.

Contrast is superb; I can only compare this to the same quality as a good Blackhawk print of Laurel & Hardy.

Craig

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I dream of becoming a dealer!!!!!!
Is Perry's Movies for Sale.

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Jan Bister
Darth 8mm

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From: Ohio, USA
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 - posted June 19, 2005 09:34 AM      Profile for Jan Bister   Email Jan Bister   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I didn't know Mountain Films did the full-length release, as I only knew of their 1x400ft. digest. Never having heard of Mountain Films before that one, I felt suspicious as to the quality of their releases... but happy to hear it's actually very good.
Did anyone besides Mountain release King Kong in full length?

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Douglas Meltzer
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 - posted June 19, 2005 10:48 AM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Jan,

I've seen varied degrees of quality with Mountain Films full length features, but stay away from their digests. They were notoriously lazy in editing, sometimes just using the last reel of the feature (with a few cuts) to make their "digest". Their 4X400 cutdowns also had very abrupt edits....sometimes in mid speech!

Doug

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Jan Bister
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From: Ohio, USA
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 - posted June 19, 2005 04:30 PM      Profile for Jan Bister   Email Jan Bister   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the info. [Smile]

Incidentally, someone's eBay auction for the full super-8 feature of King Kong just ended... but for some reason he/she had listed each of the 3 800ft. reels separately so one had to bid on all three in order to win the entire feature. I had half a mind to bid on the third reel only, thus assuring myself of owning the climactic final scenes of the film [Smile] but I could just see myself wishing after some time that I had the rest of it, too... so I passed it up... Ahwell, next time [Smile]

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Trevor Adams
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From: Auckland,New Zealand
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 - posted June 23, 2005 07:08 AM      Profile for Trevor Adams   Author's Homepage   Email Trevor Adams   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My 4x400 is a bit maddening,it goes from full titles in the ceremony outside the gates-yep,and Fay is screaming and wriggling!

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Trevor

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Heinz-Juergen Schachner
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From: Germany
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 - posted June 24, 2005 04:32 AM      Profile for Heinz-Juergen Schachner   Email Heinz-Juergen Schachner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello,
I have always been searching for the MARKETING INTERNATIONAL full feature print of the Laurentiis remake KING KONG from 1976.

Does anybody know if this title has been published as a full feature?

Best Wishes

Heinz-Juergen Schachner
Germany

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Douglas Meltzer
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From: New York, NY, USA
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 - posted June 24, 2005 12:18 PM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Heinz-Juergen,

Marketing released the 1976 "King Kong" as a full length feature (Marketing #4304)with a running time of 135 minutes. However, the feature was available only in the U.S.A. and Canada. They also came out with a 400' selected scene edition. Andreas' site has the 4x400' german language version.

Doug

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Rob Young.
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From: Cheshire, U.K.
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 - posted June 26, 2005 05:23 AM      Profile for Rob Young.     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Derann used to have the original full feature available new.

Don't know about quality but would have hoped it was at least as good as the Mountain version.

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Jim Schrader
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Savage, MN, USA
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 - posted July 01, 2005 12:22 PM      Profile for Jim Schrader   Author's Homepage   Email Jim Schrader   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If anybody is looking for a box for this film I have the box for the 1931 version reel 3 in excellent shape email me at schraderjim@hotmail.com and i can send you a picture of it.

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jim schrader
"Let's see do I have that title already"

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Chris Batt
Film Handler

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From: Northern Ireland Co. Tyrone
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 - posted January 07, 2010 09:11 AM      Profile for Chris Batt   Email Chris Batt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi all, I was given 4 x 400" reels in picture boxes of King Kong, I think its not the full version as It starts with Ann on skull island (!) strange, but the boxes are original with kong clinging to the empire states building, have only watched the 1st 2 reels and the qulity looks good to me, the t-rex fight is awesome and very funny, having watched the 2005 remake, which I adore [Smile] still I am proud to own a piece of 8mm history [Smile]

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Claus Harding
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From: Washington DC
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 - posted January 07, 2010 12:16 PM      Profile for Claus Harding   Email Claus Harding   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the review, Craig; that brought back memories as the Mountain "Kong" release was my first full feature in '79.

I wish in retrospect I had had the money to pick up the full-length "Citizen Kane" and "Top Hat" while I was at it, as the quality of "Kong" was/is very good.

Claus.

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Timothy Price
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 - posted January 08, 2010 08:33 AM      Profile for Timothy Price   Author's Homepage   Email Timothy Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have the Mountain Films release of "Kong Terrorizes New York" I think it's the last of a series.

On the back of the box they show other Mountain Films available including "Kong Battles The Monsters" (I'm told it's mainly the T-Rex battle)and Mighty Joe Young.

Love to find those other Super 8 Sound 1933 Kong reels from Mountain!

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Joe Taffis
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 - posted January 08, 2010 05:21 PM      Profile for Joe Taffis   Email Joe Taffis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
At 6X400' is the Mountain print the most complete version of the feature?, Does it feature the infamous edited scenes?

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Joe Taffis

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Claus Harding
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From: Washington DC
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 - posted January 08, 2010 06:45 PM      Profile for Claus Harding   Email Claus Harding   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Joe,

It does include the edited scenes, as the Mountain prints were mastered off the British negative.
There may be tiny things missing, but it is as complete as is available. The British censor apparently did trim some things, but much less than in the US neg. I am not sure what, if anything, got cut at the time of release in Britain; sources differ on that.

To the best of my memory: the Mountain version has the Bronto killing the sailor, Kong examining Faye, the chewing/stomping scenes with the natives, the N.Y. man being chewed and the woman being dropped.

Barring me remembering wrong, that has always stood as the complete feature to me.

Claus.

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"Why are there shots of deserts in a scene that's supposed to take place in Belgium during the winter?" (Review of 'Battle of the Bulge'.)

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Laksmi Breathwaite
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 - posted February 15, 2011 06:44 PM      Profile for Laksmi Breathwaite   Email Laksmi Breathwaite   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Guys I have the 3 X400 of KONG! And check it out I got it from a guy in Ireland. I don't know who made it but the print is beautiful. It looks great and the sound is mindf blowing. Wow I love this movie and love my print. It has just plain box with a number on each . It says King Kong and a number 1,2,3 that is all. It is very well edited and has a short naration and it starts with them landing on the island.

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" Faster then a speeding bullet, more powerful then a Locomotive "."Look up in the sky it's a bird it's a plane it's SUPERMAN"

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Allan Broadfield
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 - posted June 11, 2011 05:00 PM      Profile for Allan Broadfield   Author's Homepage   Email Allan Broadfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I bought the Mountain films complete super 8 King Kong (6x400) brand new when it first came out. I returned the first two reels as they were out of sync, but the replacements were ok. It was made from a british master as it has not only the British board of film censors certificate, but also an 'H' certificate. I had to sell off other films to afford it. It cost £60, and I still have the film. Would love to have a 16mm copy. I read recently that several years ago there was a 9.5mm copy released, but this was incomplete as the story started on Skull island.

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Luis Caramelo
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 - posted June 12, 2011 02:24 PM      Profile for Luis Caramelo   Email Luis Caramelo   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
hi,allan nice film,i have lucky my self in got also a good print
from mountain,please keep it that,s one of great fims of all
cinema history...

regards

luis caramelo

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Brad Kimball
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 - posted June 12, 2011 10:12 PM      Profile for Brad Kimball   Email Brad Kimball   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Didn't NOSTALGIA MERCHANT also release the RKO titles in 8mm format?

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Larry Arpin
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 - posted June 15, 2011 11:53 AM      Profile for Larry Arpin   Author's Homepage   Email Larry Arpin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Nostalgia Merchant's print of KK was of very poor quality. Mountain was better but it didn't have all the censored scenes. NM was complete.

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Zechariah Sporre
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 - posted January 05, 2013 07:45 PM      Profile for Zechariah Sporre   Email Zechariah Sporre   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I had a 6x400' copy of this in blank white boxes, I suspected from what others say that it was Mountain Films copy (it contained some of the deleted scenes). It was a fairly decent print. Good sound and contrast but was a little on the dark side which was noticed in many of the night scenes.

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There is a fine line between a hobby and a mental illness

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David Ollerearnshaw
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 - posted June 02, 2014 02:17 PM      Profile for David Ollerearnshaw   Author's Homepage   Email David Ollerearnshaw   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Reading somewhere a week or two ago that Mountain Films pre-print was 16mm originally, they then got a 35mm to use.

I too bought this on first release, in fact on pre order from Derann?

Far better effects than the last remake, some look more like a video game.

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