Scene 62: Jack has snuck his way to the incline Kong carried Ann up. As he’s climbing, he dislodges a large rock, and Kong hears this. He places Ann down - again - to go check for an intruder to his cave-home.
As Kong is looking around for the source of the sudden noise, and Jack is trying to make himself invisible against a wall, Ann is left alone on the cliff overhang.
Scene 63: Because this is a very crowded Monster Island, she’s immediately spied upon by a Pteranodon, who thinks she looks like a juicy white worm. She’s swept down upon and grabbed, as she beats ineffectually at its scaly feet and screams some more.
Kong comes storming back out barely in time to keep Ann from being carried away. He grabs the reptile out of the air, and starts to pummel it.
While this is happening, Jack is able to make it to Ann and clamp a hand over her mouth to keep her from screeching again and blowing his rescue attempt. Instead of running back the way they came in, Jack and Ann grab hold of a really, really long vine that drapes over the cliff edge and start to climb downward over the empty expanse of space.
Well, Jack does. Ann just hangs from around his neck and dangles there kicking her feet and trying to dislodge them both for a fatal plummet to the forest below.
Alas for Jack and Ann, Kong has tossed the dead flying reptile over the cliff edge. He sees his prize making her escape from him, and grabs hold of the vine. He starts reeling the two escapees back up the cliff face.
In a desperate bid, Jack kicks away from the cliff face, and then lets go of the rope, sending he and Ann far, far below into one of those ubiquitous lakes on this island. Somehow, they don’t manage to break every bone in their bodies.
Kong sees them surface, and as they splash toward solid ground, he lets out an infuriated bellow.
Scene 64: Having reached shore, Jack carries Ann and makes a run for it, but above Kong is also making his way back down to find them.
Scene 65: Meanwhile, back at the Village, our men are waiting with impatient boredom for daylight so they can get their rescue expedition on the road.
Scene 66: Somehow, Ann and Jack found a way to cross the gorge because they’re running like hell for the Villager Wall, where our lookout Briggs is still looking for any signs out in the vastness of the forest for Jack’s signal.
They shout down an alert that Jack and the lady have made it back and they rush to the wall-gate to welcome them back and help the exhausted pair inside.
The Captain tells Ann she’s safe now, and they’ll have her aboard ship in no time.
Scene 67: But Carl has a sudden inspiration: He’s not ready to leave yet without definitive proof that King Kong exists to take back with them. The Captain and Jack are outraged after everybody they’ve lost.
Denham goes on to remind them they have the gas bombs and could capture him alive.
Driscoll tells him that Kong is on a cliff where it’d take an army to get to him, but Carl isn’t convinced that he’ll stay there… since they have something he wants. Ann turns away from his intense glare of avarice and buries her face in Jack’s chest. Jack tells him to forget it.
But above them, Briggs and the other lookout shout that Kong is coming!
Everyone rushes into the village, and shuts the heavy wall-gate behind them, as Ann screams in fright. Meanwhile, Other Watchman rings the huge gong atop the wall, calling out the cowering Villagers to pick up arms and help to defend them all from Kong’s assured rampage.
Scene 68: Everyone piles against the wall-gate in an attempt to keep Kong out, but he’s pissed now and not them, nor the huge cross beam is going to be enough to keep that gate shut.
The King breaks through and there is instant pandemonium.
Kong goes on a rage fuelled storm throughout the village, killing anyone who gets within reach and searching for “what’s his”.
While the Villagers try valiantly to drive Kong off, the white men rush for their landing boats, where presumably more gas bombs await. Kong finds them on the beach, and Carl starts unloading with his highly pyrotechnic “knockout” bombs.
Kong starts coughing and getting woozy after one Atomically-Explosive Hand Grenade Of Sleep Gas. It takes some time for him to crawl around on the sand, but he finally enters sleepy time.
Commentary: I loved the rampage through the village, because one again, Kong’s attack is really brutal. Men are chewed on, men are stepped on, they have stuff thrown on top of them… there was some really terrific stunt work going on, and the stop motion and live performance was blended exceptionally well on this assault.
Just terrific work all around. In fact, one of the things I’d forgotten is just how brutally violent Kong is toward the extras. There is a lot of brutal deaths throughout the island sequences, hardly blunted at all by the use of the marionettes and puppetry. The only place where it was really bad looking, to my eye, was “Jack” and “Ann” taking the tumble down the cliff face into the lake, where they did look a bit more like plastic dolls being thrown into a tub of water. But otherwise, the special effects have been exceptional, as long as you dig the entire stop motion process.
I also want to give props to the extras in this scene. The natives manage to do much better than their Japanese counterparts, in that you won’t spot anyone laughing their way through the “run away, run away” scenes.
Scene 69: With Kong unconscious, Denham is beside himself with excitement over what the world will pay to see him live. The Captain doubts the wisdom of trying to chain the beast for transport, even assuming they could build a raft big enough to get to the ship, and find a way to load him aboard. But Carl insists that they’re all going to be millionaires, as he’s going to share the fortune he’ll make with all of them.
Denham shouts that in a few months he’ll be on Broadway with Kong’s name is lights: The Eighth Wonder Of The World!
Scene 70: [Thank goodness for Carl, Screen Wipes stops by to help him over the physics of getting Kong loaded and unloaded aboard ship and transported to New York.]
Crowds gather to visit the site of Carl Denham’s latest, with some complaining that after all of the ballyhoo about it, it better be something special. There is more bitching and whining about the price of the tickets, the fact that it isn’t a movie being premiered that everyone has paid for, and blah-blah--- nobody knows, somehow, that it involves seeing a giant monster, yadda-yadda.
Scene 71: Backstage, Ann complains that she doesn’t like being this close to Kong as it reminds her of that awfulness at the island. Jack says he wouldn’t have brought her, but she knows Carl and his showmanship….
Meanwhile the press has been allowed backstage to get the first glimpse of Kong as the ape softly roars from offscreen. They’re invited over for pre-show interviews with Carl, Ann and Jack.
Scene 72: Finally, Carl goes out in front of the audience to make a speech. He introduces “the former god, now just a captive” Kong. King Kong has been trussed up in heavy steel bars and chains, as Ann is introduced and then John who come out on stage.
Next, Carl promises to tell the audience the entire death-filled story with Ann and Jack’s harrowing part of the tale after the newspaper boys get their photographs. Kong, for his part, seems pretty docile toward the whole thing… until all of the flashbulbs start going off.
Kong gets more and more upset, as Carl tries to get the journalists to stop flashing their bulbs, as he explains that he thinks they’re threatening Ann. But of course, they don’t listen.
And that is why Kong snaps his chains. The audience screams and all try to run for the exits at once, while the reporters, Ann, Jack and Carl rush from the stage.
It takes Kong a shockingly short amount of time to make scrap of his “chrome steel, nothing to worry about” shackles and he’s off on a chase to retrieve the fleeing Ann.
Meanwhile, the audience is basically killing each other in a stampede while Kong has no interest in them whatsoever. He busts out of a side wall, gaining access to the city, and causing more chaos as people’s cars begin crashing and panic rules the streets.
Scene 73: Jack and Ann rush into a hotel, with Kong following. He grabs up a random hapless man, and crushes him in his jaws.
A woman looks out her window and screams, gaining Kong’s attention. She retreats back into her room, but Kong climbs the building after her. She escapes, but Kong spots another woman lying in bed. He reaches in and grabs her screaming self, only to find out that this isn’t the Ann Darrow he’s looking for.
Too bad for her. She gets dropped to the pavement far, far below.
In the meantime, Fire and Police begin responding to the disaster site [which it should be noted is more of a disaster because of the people, rather than anything that Kong is actually doing at the moment].
Scene 74: In another room, Jack rushes Ann in and assures her that she’s safe now. But even as he tells Ann that she’ll be alright now, we see Kong’s face in the window peering in.
He smashes out the window and reaches in for Ann. Jack tries to dissuade him with a chair, but is knocked to the floor and unconscious. Ann is snatched up once again, reliving her trauma, as Jack comes too just moment too late.
Jack spots Kong climbing toward the roof. He rushes out of Ann’s room, and runs into Carl, where both men now chase after the Ape and Ann.
Scene 75: As Ann continues to struggle and shriek, Kong looks around in confusion at all of the shapes and lights that he can’t recognize.
Jack and Carl make it to the roof, but Kong has already gone down again to return to street level.
Scene 76: Kong rushes through the crowded New York streets, angrily roaring at everything nearby. A train goes by on the elevated tracks, drawing his attention. As it rushes by, he destroys the track and climbs up on the remainder.
Gazing down track, he can see another train barreling for him. More track is destroyed, with the engineer unable to stop the train in time. It derails, crashing to the street below - which no doubt comes as an attack to Kong by a Giant Snake, and gets an aggressive response in return.
Dozens are injured or dead. With the train no longer moving, Kong goes back to climbing the nearest building.
Commentary: This is another one of the scenes which doesn’t work out quite as well. The train bit, the tracks being torn apart… all of that is wonderful. The only problem is that in the middle distance shots, there is a building on the right side of the screen that has been projected there. The borders of the building aren’t fitting well into the scene, so it “looks fake”. In addition, this is one of those scenes where the building is moving around doing a jitterbug, but nobody in the building standing at the windows and watching the destruction seems to notice that their apartments are bouncing around.
If you can just kind of be blind to the right side of the screen though, the train sequence is exciting and a bit horrifying. We get plenty of shots of the passengers in the train, tumbling around, including one nice stunt shot where a woman falls against a corner of the train screaming, only to have a half dozen heavy men fall right on top of her.
I do wish that the film was a bit shorter though. We’ve spent so long on the island to get Kong here, that now I’m just getting exhausted and am ready for the end to get here. I think part of the issue is that Ann spends a ridiculous amount of time falling unconscious, waking up to scream and screech while her marionette struggles in Kong’s grip, only to fall unconscious, wake up screaming and screeching while… etc, etc, etc.
Ann Darrow, despite Fay’s wonderful performance and her absolutely being a trooper through the hysterical screaming jags, just doesn’t have enough to do. She’s an object for everybody to chase down, but even when she’s not in Kong’s grip, she never takes active steps to save herself so her entire role is repetitive. And since we’re spending so much time with Kong, we’re spending a lot of time with her doing nothing except screaming. It’s wearing on the ears and the brain.
Scene 77: While Kong is carrying Ann away, Carl and Jack make their way to the local police precinct where they’re in time to hear a radio broadcast from HQ that Kong is headed toward the Empire State Building.
Jack and the police agree that if Kong climbs the building they won’t be able to reach Ann… which the radio then reports is exactly what the Ape is doing.
Jack suddenly decides that they should risk a plane assault on Kong, if he should put Ann down and the pilots can avoid shooting her along with.
Scene 78: In the meantime, as the bi-planes are taking off from a local airfield, King Kong is nearing the top of the building, where he can gaze out at the “jungle” below.
Jack worries over Ann’s safety if the planes begin shooting.
Commentary: There is a looong shot of the Empire State here with Kong’s figure climbing up the side, and the four bi-planes closing on his position that is just wonderful looking! You’d think that with the shot being so long, you’d start to be able to pick apart faults, like the backdrop, or the models looking a bit too model-ly, but the shot holds up despite the amount of time that we’re watching Kong’s figure reach the top. GREAT JOB again by the special effects folks!
Scene 79: At the top, as the planes circle and look for their moment, Kong [alas for him] puts Ann down on the edge of the building. This leaves him open to attack, and leaves Ann close enough to a ladder to make a climb for freedom [except she doesn't even try].
Our planes start their dive runs, firing machine guns at Kong while attempting not to swoop in so close that he can clobber them out of the air.
One plane gets caught and sent to its doom below, but Kong is being riddled with bullet holes, and is clearly outmatched by modern technology. As Kong is shot up in pass after pass, he looks first wonderingly at his own blood on his fingertips, and then starts to sway dangerously.
Hurt, weakening, growing woozy, Kong reaches down one last time for Ann and gazes at her. He sets her back down and strokes at her hair, when a bi-plane makes another run and shoots him in the neck.
Commentary: Yeah, guys. I gotta tell you… I’ve always hated how this ends for Kong. He’s so outclassed here because of the distance weaponry and the planes staying out of his reach, and it’s so brutal. It’s shot after shot after shot, and you can tell [again, brilliant work by Willis O’Brien] that he realizes that he’s been injured and that he’s growing weaker after having recognized the blood that is so similar to the blood from the creatures he’s killed on the island. It’s just horribly sad, because he doesn’t have to be here in this situation. If he’d just been left on the island, none of this would’ve been necessary [of course, that would mean the islanders are still sacrificing poor women to him so that really sucks too].
It’s his facial expressions that just kill me. Especially when he’s reaching for the entirely unsympathetic Ann and all she’s doing is continuing to cower from him and wishing he’d just die already….
Scene 80: Kong continues to choke on his blood, more dripping from his jaws as he sways out over the building. Finally, with his looking down toward the long drop, he loses his grip on the building’s light tower….
It’s a long, long, fall with his smashing into the corners of the building as he goes.
Scene 81: In the meantime, Jack arrives at the top of the Empire State to help Ann get down from where she’s lying on the edge.
Scene 82: Later, a crowd has gathered around the fallen form of King Kong in the street.
Carl Denham pushes his way through the crowd to gaze on his folly. A police captain confirms [rather unnecessarily] that the planes got ‘em. He tells the police captain that ‘tis was Beauty who killed the Beast….
And we fade out on Denham shaking his head at his dreams splatted on a city street.
Commentary: And on my rage, as well...: NO! It wasn’t Ann who got Kong killed, you asshole. It was your greed in taking Kong out of his habitat to put on display in an environment totally differing than what he understood, leaving him to be confused and frightened by all of the noise and bright lights and unfamiliar shapes going on around him.
Your arrogance, ego and short-sightedness got a one-of-a-kind natural wonder killed. You’re a dick.
The Good: First and foremost, we must place the work of the entire special effects and set dressing team here. Everything looks fabulous and the shots of Kong's jungle home, his wrestling with monsters of various sorts, and his interactions with the men chasing him are wonderful. I love the hard work, detailed attention, and filming of nearly all of the scenes involving Kong - especially when he's a stop motion creature.
I also want to place Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Frank Reicher and the large supporting cast here. Not a one of them made themselves known through their bad acting; Even Bruce Cabot started to grow on me during the portion of the film when he's chasing after Kong and Ann. The entire cast deserves kudos. And so do the stunt actors.
I really enjoyed the scenes of Carl meeting Ann and making his proposal and how he doesn't realize how it comes across as anything but a legitimate job offer. It was really cute, and I liked seeing Carl's humanity showing through because of the lengths he goes to later and how he's directly responsible for so much carnage.
I'd also give applause for the soundtrack team. The music was highly effective and well used, really hightening tension and excitement where it was appropriate.
I loved the sequence of the Lake Brontosaurus attacking the raft, Kong's battle against the T-Rex/Allosaurus and Kong attacking the men on the log bridge.
The attack by Kong on the Skull Islanders' Village was terrific, with some really brutal deaths and a lot of nice stunt work.
The Bad: Mmm. I'm going to put the whole idea that Carl just rents ships to go to unexplored islands on the off chance that he can get a movie out of it right here. Carl Denham seems utterly inane and I can't see how he got any pictures made that are famous enough for his name to be known, if this is how he handles his business.
I'm also going to put the length of the film here... but it's here just by a bare margin. There are simply too many scenes that could've been trimmed a bit in order to shorten the run time, and the fact they weren't just makes the film feel like it's been going on forever by the time we get to Kong at the top of the Empire State Building. Some scenes ... especially Ann's aborted escape attempts and the screaming, screaming, screaming needed to be tightened up.
I hate that whole "It was Beauty that killed the Beast" bullcrap by the script. The Police Captain or Jack or somebody somewhere should've pointed out it was CARL who got the beast killed... along with dozens and dozens of other people!
Other Thoughts: Well, the amount of times that we hit on the Beauty and The Beast theme was really starting to annoy me. It was a bit hamhanded in the scripting.
I was less than happy with the gruff first mate's not liking that Ann is aboard, only to fall for her and she with him. Maybe it wasn't the cliche that it became, but it's still hard to figure out just what Ann is seeing in him. A bit more work might've been needed to flesh out their relationship aboard ship for me to completely buy Ann's interest.
I've got some serious mixed feelings about Charlie, the Asian Cook. On the one hand, I like the way that Ann treats him and how he's not relegated to being a dialogless extra in the kitchen, but on the other hand... well, "me look-ee, me like-ee..." UGH. And I don't like how Jack treats him one bit. Nor did I appreciate the script undercutting his bravery by having his offer to retrieve Ann from her abductors so forcefully rebuffed (right out of the movie, too) so that all of the White Guys could do the heroics.
I also find the movie a bit too long, especially because everything with Ann gets highly repetitive. It's not enough to push it into the bad, but really... Ann's constant screaming....
The amount of monsters that Kong has to save Ann from on the island also comes across as ridiculous. Kong literally cannot step away from her for ten seconds before another creature has wandered over to find her.
The Score: This is a great, classic film whose only real fault for me is the length of running time when its combined with the repetition of Ann Darrow's screaming, passing out and being manhandled by Kong which happens over and over and over again.
3.75 out of 5 stars
Next Up: Angel & Faith, Season 02, Issue 23