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King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2005

    THE MOST DETAILED ACCOUNT OF KONG'S CREATION

    With any big budget, highly promoted film such as King Kong, there is going to be a flood of merchandising. Already, weeks before the film's release we saw all sorts of toys, video games and more. And of course there are always a lot of books. King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson is simply the best book ever written on the history of this cinematic giant. Author Ray Morton covers the entire history of King Kong, from the 1933 classic to the 2005 remake by Peter Jackson and everything in between in meticulously researched detail. And yes, Japanese film fans, that includes the 1960's King Kong Vs. Godzilla as well as King Kong Escapes. Morton begins the book by providing brief biographies on Producer/Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack, and sop-motion effects guru Willis O' Brien. Cooper was a true to life Indiana Jones who sought adventure around the world. A pilot, Cooper flew dozens of successful missions during WWI he was shot down and badly burned and captured by the Germans. After the war Cooper could volunteer with several other American pilots to assist Poland in their fight for freedom against the Bolsheviks, again flying numerous successful strafing missions as a squadron leader before again getting shot down and captured and sent to a prison work farm in Moscow. Cooper would later escape along with two Polish prisoners and would earn Poland's medal of bravery, their highest honor. Returning to the states and becoming a filmmaker, Cooper traveled to exotic locales around the world to shoot silent docu-dramas, all the while building ideas for Kong. While Cooper originally planned the use of trick photography using real gorillas for Kong, O'Brien eventually was able to convince him that his stop-animation process would be the best route. Included in the book are some very rare concept paintings that O'Brien did to sell his ideas to Cooper. A name lost to time is Cooper's assistant Marcel Delgado. It was Delgado who actually built the two 18' armature Kong models. Author Morton then provides a month by month detailing of the shooting schedule. He also shares all of the state of the art techniques used for the various special effects in the movie, providing a back story to each one including the log scene, Kongs battle with the T-Rex, Kong's battle with the Pteradon, and his rampage through the native village. Also covered is the infamous, and excised pit sequence there the sailors who fell from the log are devoured by giant spiders and lizards. Putting Kong into perspective, most 'A' films of the day had a budget of $200,000. Kong's was over twice that at $500,000. A huge gamble for any studio and more so for RKO who would have gone out of business had the film flopped at the box office. As it was, the film opened to rave reviews and made over two million dollars in its initial release...a monumental figure for 1933. Samples of reviews of the period are included and the success of the film led to a very quickly produced and underrated sequel, 'Son of Kong' which never has received the notoriety it deserves. Morton goes onto cover the two Japanese produced films and while the sections are not nearly as long, they are still well-researched. A detailed synopsis of each film and full credits are provided. Morton then tackles the lackluster 1976 remake and the ill-advised 1986 sequel, 'Kong Lives' before ending the book with a brief look at the Peter Jackson remake, soon to hit theaters. For any fan of King Kong the book is a must have. Filled with dozens of color and black & white photographs from all the films, production drawings, story boards, even pictures of Kong collectibles from various eras, this book is a grand look at one of the movie's greatest characters. Reviewed by Tim Janson

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2005

    A must for all movie fans

    This is the most concise book on all things Kong! It covers extensively the creation of the Kong character by Merian C. Cooper. Also the development, production, and release of the orginal 1933 King Kong vs. Godzilla and Kong Kong Escapes King Kong (1976) --- Dino De Laurentiis' Academy Award-winning remake, which introduced both Jessica Lang and the newly-opened World Trade Center to the screen King Kong Lives --- De Laurentiis' ill-fated sequel and King Kong (2005) --- Peter Jackson's spectacular new version of the classic tale. If that was not enough, this book also covers the Sons of Kong (Kong variants, spoofs, and rip offs), Kongs that never were and a complete listing of all things Kong (from lunch boxes to salt and pepper shakers!)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

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