King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon

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He is one of the most amazing, popular, and iconic characters in the history of motion pictures. His 1933 debut was a legendary piece of pure cinema - simultaneously a terrifying monster movie, epic fairy tale, tragic love story, and deeply resonant cultural myth. His name is King Kong. Ray Morton's King Kong - The History of a Movie Icon is the first book to chronicle the making of all seven feature films in which the character of Kong has appeared, including the hotly anticipated Peter Jackson version. It is ...
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Overview

He is one of the most amazing, popular, and iconic characters in the history of motion pictures. His 1933 debut was a legendary piece of pure cinema - simultaneously a terrifying monster movie, epic fairy tale, tragic love story, and deeply resonant cultural myth. His name is King Kong. Ray Morton's King Kong - The History of a Movie Icon is the first book to chronicle the making of all seven feature films in which the character of Kong has appeared, including the hotly anticipated Peter Jackson version. It is generously illustrated with photographs, production art, and promotional materials from the author's extensive private collection. Morton has interviewed the surviving members of each major film. A colorful overview of the tremendous amount of collectible Kong merchandise is also on view for all the fans of Kongdom to devour.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Script magazine columnist Morton, who views King Kong as "an enduring cultural icon," was captivated at age eight by the giant gorilla, and his "Kong-mania went into overdrive" with the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis version. In an effort to survey all feature films in which Kong appears, Morton interviewed surviving cast and crew members, visited archives and trekked to film locations, documenting everything from ape suits, budget woes and optical effects to "Kongs That Never Were." The lengthy opening chapter recaps the making of the 1933 film in exhaustive detail, illustrated with dramatic conceptual art and test shots; an equal amount of space is given to the 1976 remake. Shorter chapters review "The Son of Kong," "King Kong vs. Godzilla," "King Kong Escapes" and "King Kong Lives." Peter Jackson's forthcoming version gets only 14 pages, but fans dazzled by this book's 100 color and b&w illustrations (storyboards, stills, production art, collectibles) and comprehensive coverage of past Kongs won't complain. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A senior writer for Script magazine, Morton has long been fascinated with the screen history of King Kong. His new work, scheduled to coincide with the release of the 1933 original on DVD and the premiere of Peter Jackson's remake, chronicles all seven feature films in which Kong has appeared, with notes on lesser Kong-related projects (e.g., cartoons, short films). Morton truly has done yeoman's work, interviewing surviving cast and crew members whenever possible and providing scene-by-scene commentary on the making of the major works. More than 100 black-and-white and color film stills and behind-the-scenes photos are included, and film buffs will especially love the detailed attention that Morton pays to the two great Kong artists, Willis O'Brien and Rick Baker. Although at least two other popular works (not yet available for review) are forthcoming simultaneously with the Jackson film, Morton's book is so well done that it will be an essential acquisition for all academic and public library film and popular culture collections.-Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557836694
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The father of Kong 4
Ch. 2 "It was beauty killed the beast" : the making of King Kong 10
Ch. 3 "Some baby" : the making of The son of Kong 88
Ch. 4 King Kong goes to Japan : the making of King Kong versus Godzilla and King Kong escapes 116
Ch. 5 "Here's to the big one" : the making of Dino De Laurentiis's King Kong 142
Ch. 6 "You are dealing with a lady" : the making of King Kong lives 234
Ch. 7 The Kongs that never were 286
Ch. 8 The sons of Kong 292
Ch. 9 The collectible Kong 304
Ch. 10 The return of the king : Peter Jackson's King Kong 316
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • 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

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    Posted June 1, 2012

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