Now here’s a true classic, whose imagery has embedded itself in our culture, and which has been re-made multiple times.
Surely I don’t need to describe the plot, right? A giant gorilla, discovered by the obsessive Carl Denham on mysterious Skull Island, whom he takes back to New York in chains, only for the big guy to escape and carry Ann Darrow (played by Fay Wray) up the Empire State Building?
So the plot is familiar enough. But does it hold up to modern viewing? Let’s run it through our rubric and see.
KING KONG (1933)
Story/Plot/Characters–It starts off a little slow and some of the dialogue is less than sparkling. The overall plot, however, feels natural, even mythical. It’s hard to believe there was a time when this story didn’t already exist. (3 points)
Special Effects–The effects at the time were groundbreaking, and hold up well enough that my kids were riveted, even 80 years later. I must say the effects hold up well even in the age of CGI. (2 points)
Scariness–I wouldn’t say this is a really scare movie, but there are some moments of real horror: the villagers offering Darrow up as a sacrifice to Kong, Kong breaking free of his chains before the audience in New York. (1 point)
Atmosphere/Freakiness–The ship’s voyage, Skull Island, Kong flipping over cars in streets and climbing skyscrapers. (2 points)