Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, and Frank Reicher
Written by: James Creelman and Ruth Rose, from the story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace
Directed by: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
NR, 100 min, 1933, USA
Film director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) discovers on the eve of his voyage that his film is lacking a love interest, so he rescues Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) from a shoplifting charge and recruits her for the production. They sail to an island where they encounter Kong, a gigantic ape who falls in love with Darrow. Kong is captured and taken to New York where he escapes and scales the Empire State Building in one of the signature scenes in the history of cinema.
It doesn't take a whole lot of searching to see the fingerprints of King Kong in modern cinema. The film moves a bit slowly until we meet Kong, but from then on it's non-stop action. Once he meets the girl of his dreams, he's forced to battle two dinosaurs, a giant snake, a flying reptile, and a Tyrannosaurus rex. And that's before he even gets to New York. The other creatures seem to be attacking at will, going after the crew and Darrow with little to no provocation , but Kong fights solely as a means of defense, either of himself or his girl . Once in New York, he is startled by the reporters' flash bulbs and believes that Darrow is being attacked, so he rips himself free from his restraints and goes on a rampage of the city. He knocks down walls, rips an elevated train apart, and knocks down a biplane with his bare hands. He is so focused on his goal of protecting Darrow that when he accidentally grabs another girl, he drops her without a thought to her safety once discovering his mistake. If he weren't so concerned with his girl, he could have lived a long, if not miserable, life as a Broadway attraction. But Kong cannot stand silently while she appears to be in danger, and this is what proves to be his downfall. As Denham points out, "It was beauty killed the beast."