No, I’m not talking about the recent mega-remake by the brilliant Peter Jackson. Nor the kitschy Dino De Laurentiis 70′s version of the Kong tale – the only one to feature a Wookie, otherwise known as Jeff Bridges.
I mean the original 1933 RKO classic King Kong. The one with Fay Wray as cinema’s first Brassy Dame Fatale. The one where you literally see Willis O’Brien’s fingerprints on Kong’s shoulders. That’s craft! Today you’re lucky to see Lindsay Lohan’s fingerprints on a shotglass.
I vaguely recall having a King Kong lunchbox as a kid. And as much as I wished the Eighth Wonder of the World would scare away the bullies, I was still a dork with my lunch in a box. That’s when I’d play with my toy dinosaurs attacking each other with herky-jerky stop-motion ferocity – just like in King Kong – until my mom took me to the doctor fearing I had some nervous disorder.
Toy dinos I had galore. But no monkeys. Instead I had to settle for sisters.
A few years ago I saw the actual model for one of Kong’s cinematic kin – Son of Kong? Mighty Joe Young? – in a one of those Hollywood theme restaurants, and it looked every bit the septuagenarian. Rotten fur amidst rotten fries.
But the brilliant magic of a classic film never dims.
Before there was Spider-this and Bat-that, there was Kong. And King he remains.
Happy 75th, your Highness.