7.9/10
74,299
475 user 157 critic

King Kong (1933)

Passed | | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi | 7 April 1933 (USA)
Trailer
1:32 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.

Directors:

Merian C. Cooper (uncredited), Ernest B. Schoedsack (uncredited)

Writers:

James Ashmore Creelman (screen play) (as James Creelman), Ruth Rose (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
4,118 ( 452)
3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Frankenstein (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff
King Kong (1976)
Adventure | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A petroleum exploration expedition comes to an isolated island and encounters a colossal giant gorilla.

Director: John Guillermin
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange
Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive
Dracula (1931)
Certificate: Passed Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.

Directors: Tod Browning, Karl Freund
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan
Godzilla (1954)
Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.

Director: Ishirô Honda
Stars: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

The men who captured the giant ape King Kong return to Skull Island and find his likewise gigantic but far more friendly son.

Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Stars: Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack, Frank Reicher
The Wolf Man (1941)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him can not possibly exist.

Director: George Waggner
Stars: Claude Rains, Warren William, Lon Chaney Jr.
Nosferatu (1922)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim
King Kong (2005)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A greedy film producer assembles a team of moviemakers and sets out for the infamous Skull Island, where they find more than just cannibalistic natives.

Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When Prince John and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon masses in King Richard's absence, a Saxon lord fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army.

Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone
The Mummy (1932)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A resurrected Egyptian mummy stalks a beautiful woman he believes to be the reincarnation of his lover and bride.

Director: Karl Freund
Stars: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fay Wray ... Ann Darrow
Robert Armstrong ... Carl Denham
Bruce Cabot ... John Driscoll
Frank Reicher ... Capt. Englehorn
Sam Hardy ... Charles Weston
Noble Johnson ... Native Chief
Steve Clemente Steve Clemente ... Witch King (as Steve Clemento)
James Flavin ... Second Mate Briggs
King Kong ... The Eighth Wonder of the World
Edit

Storyline

Carl Denham needs to finish his movie and has the perfect location; Skull Island. But he still needs to find a leading lady. This 'soon-to-be-unfortunate' soul is Ann Darrow. No one knows what they will encounter on this island and why it is so mysterious, but once they reach it, they will soon find out. Living on this hidden island is a giant gorilla and this beast now has Ann in it's grasps. Carl and Ann's new love, Jack Driscoll must travel through the jungle looking for Kong and Ann, whilst avoiding all sorts of creatures and beasts. Written by Film_Fan

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Monster of Creation's Dawn Breaks Loose in Our World Today! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 April 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ape See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$670,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$651
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored) | (original cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Most of the dialogue between Captain Englehorn and the Native Chief appears to be gibberish. But when the Chief offers to buy Ann Darrow, Englehorn is clearly heard saying, "Tidak, tidak," which is Malay for "No, no." This makes sense since the island is described as being off the coast of Sumatra. See more »

Goofs

(at around 1h 24 mins) During the show in New York, Carl Denham refers to Jack Driscoll as "John Driscoll." This is not incorrect, however, as Jack was once commonly used as a diminutive name for men named John. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Charles Weston: Say, is this the moving picture ship?
Watchman: The Venture? Yeah. Are you going on this crazy voyage?
Charles Weston: What's crazy about it?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening Card: And the prophet said: "And lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty. And it stayed its hand from killing. And from that day, it was as one dead." Old Arabian Proverb See more »

Alternate Versions

Other than the sequence where Kong pulls Fay Wray's clothes off, here are the other scenes that were cut in the late '30s, and not restored until the '70s:
  • All scenes of the Brontasourus biting sailors, including the sequence where a sailor climbs to the top of a tree, and soon, a dinosaur comes and takes him away in his mouth.
  • Kong biting and chewing natives when he breaks through the gate on Skull Island, and squashing one under his giant foot.
  • Kong biting a New Yorker when he escapes from the theater.
  • Kong picking a sleeping woman from her hotel room, inspecting her and upon deciding that she's not Ann throwing her to the sidewalk several stories below. Though these scenes were fully restored in 35mm to the 1972 re-release, some prints in the 1960s used 35mm blow-ups of an old uncensored 16mm print to restore the shots, creating a noticeable drop in quality. The 1972 restoration gets the censored shots that were discovered in an uncut British 35mm print from 1933.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Charlie's Angels: The Big Tap-Out (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

St. Louis Blues
(1914) (uncredited)
Music by W.C. Handy
Whistled by Robert Armstrong
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
They'll have to think up a lot of new adjectives...
28 January 2004 | by ramaken33See all my reviews

There's little new I can probably add here, judging by the amount of comments, but here goes. King Kong is still one of the greatest fantasy films. It has inspired generations of filmmakers, writers, and other artists, all of whom have been awed and thrilled by the level of craftsmanship involved in its creation. The film haunted my nightmares as a child; there was something absolutely frightening about Kong's glaring eyes looming in the windows of the wrecked elevated train. Thanks to television and repeated showings every Thanksgiving for years (thanks WOR) I became smitten with this film. Nearly 30 years later- post the 1976 remake, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, etc, I still sit down every few months to watch Kong. EVERY time, I see something new. The detail they put into this film is phenomenal, considering it was released long before television or VCRs could give viewers a chance to watch it enough to notice the more subtle details. Volumes have been written about this movie's production, but one effect still has me puzzled. When Kong is in his cave, just before he sets Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) in a small opening in the rocks, the head of the elasmosaurus can be seen surfacing and submerging in the pool behind him. If it was done in stop motion, it's the smoothest work in the film; even the pool's water actually appears to ripple around the head.

Willis O'Brien is the man primarily credited with bringing King Kong to the screen, but in truth, Kong was the brainchild of Merian Cooper, a truly larger-than-life film producer, on whom the character of Carl Denham was modeled. Cooper had been a fighter pilot in World War I, a POW after he was shot down behind enemy lines, and- with his partner Ernest Schoedsack- had traveled to the wilds of Asia and Africa to film documentaries. Cooper imagined King Kong as the logical extension of his true life exploits; exaggerated but a recognizable caricature of his experiences. Originally he had wanted a real gorilla to portray Kong, and even wanted to have it fight a Komodo dragon! (Call the Humane Society!) We can all be grateful he encountered Willis O'Brien (who was working on his own dinosaur film- Creation) and decided to produce Kong and the monsters of Skull Island using stop-motion. I doubt anyone in 1933 could have tolerated the spectacle of a live gorilla in real combat with a Komodo dragon. I suspect the film would have either been banned outright or been little more than a grisly footnote in motion picture history. The idea was Cooper's, but the majesty and spectacle of the film belong to O'Brien. The miniature jungle settings created by O'Brien's crew with multiple glass paintings created an otherworldly quality to Skull Island that could not be duplicated by shooting on location- as Cooper had originally envisioned.

To be sure, the film is very much a product of a simpler time. However, if the acting in Kong is compared to its early 1930's contemporaries in the horror/fantasy genre, it holds up quite well. Cooper and Schoedsack understood the necessity of establishing the characters before Kong's entrance, but kept dialog to a minimum. The story is told visually, with camera-work furthering plot points that may have seemed didactic otherwise. The film is carried by not only its visual imagery, but by one of the first feature length music scores. This was an innovation that put King Kong ahead its sound contemporaries, which relied quite heavily on the spoken word and direction alone. There is a ten minute sequence in the center of the film- after the death of the tyrannosaurus until the escape of Ann and Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) from Kong's lair- that is told entirely with visuals, music, and sound effects. It is in large part due to the score that much of Kong's emotional impact is conveyed, particularly in its finale atop the Empire State Building. Steiner was able to suggest Kong's emotional state, assisting O'Brien in providing empathy to a creature who in reality was only an 18 inch high puppet.

It is a mistake to compare Kong technically or artistically with films from later decades. Consider the cultural context in which King Kong was produced. America was in the darkest days of the Depression. World War II was seven years away, and nobody outside of a few physicists knew what 'atomic bomb' meant. Kong truly was the 'Eighth Wonder of the World' just as the Empire State Building was at the time considered the greatest technological marvel. As Cooper envisioned it, Kong was an adventure escapist film, offering Depression-Era audiences something that at the time would be considered the 'ultimate in adventure.' Whether or not Peter Jackson's proposed remake of Kong can maintain these qualities of showmanship and adventure is a matter of wait and see: to today's audiences Kong no longer represents something 'all powerful' or able to 'lick the world' as Carl Denham described him back in 1933. Even setting the remake in 1933 will have its difficulties, since the film will then be a period piece rather than a contemporary story, as both the original film and the 1976 remake were, and audience involvement may be more limited.

Like Star Wars, King Kong was a made for the movies myth, not based directly on any previous source other than Cooper and O'Brien's imagination. It spawned one of the first monster movie sequels, one remake, (so far) and countless imitations, parodies, and merchandise. Among fantasy films, only the Wizard of Oz can rival King Kong for the sheer longevity of popularity, but while Oz provided escapist entertainment, it did so in a lighter fashion. Kong provided escapism but of a more disturbing and haunting kind.

Here's to ya, Obie, and Coop!

Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.


174 of 193 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 475 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed