100 Movies You Need to See Before You Die

King Kong (1933)

Country: USA
Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Screenwriters: James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose
Stars: Fay Wray, Bruce Cabbot, Robert Armstrong

Screenwriters James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose executed a deft okie-doke when they brought King Kong to life in 1933. At first, the gigantic ape is presented as a villainous monster, the sure-to-be doomsayer for beautify actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) when she's abducted by jungle natives and strung up for Kong to do with as he pleases.

As the story progresses, though, Kong softens up. By the film's end, the once-scary beast has earned the audience's affections, giving its tragic episode atop the Empire State Building a poignancy that's uncommon for monster movies.

On the technical side, King Kong was truly groundbreaking back in '33. Basically, this RKO Radio Pictures production was just a bunch of guys playing with toys. All of the oversized beasts on display, from various dinosaurs to Kong itself, were miniature models constructed by Marcel Delgado. Kong was actually four different models, including a 24-inch one used during the film's climactic scenes atop the Empire State Building.

Remember those epic movies you'd make with action figures in the bathtub? King Kong is the ultimate version of that. —MB

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