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KING KONG (1976)

"He wrote in his log of "piercing the white veil" – that’s obviously the cloud bank – and landing on the Beach Of The Skull, where he heard "the roar of the greatest beast"…."

kk.jpg (10871 bytes)Director: John Guillermin

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, Charles Grodin, Rene Auberjonois, John Randolph, Julius Harris, Ed Lauter, John Agar, Rick Baker

Screenplay: Lorenzo Semple Jr, based upon an original story and screenplay by Merion C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace, James Creelman and Ruth Rose

Synopsis: As the merchant vessel Petrox Explorer prepares to leave Surubaya, Indonesia, Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges), a primate palaeontologist from Princeton, manages to smuggle himself on board. Below deck, Captain Ross (John Randolph) warns Petrox Oil executive Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin) that a bad storm is forecast, but Wilson, concerned that other oil companies will get wind of their expedition if they delay, insists that they leave port as planned. The storm breaks as predicted, and the Petrox’s radio operator picks up a faint mayday call that he cannot get a fix on. Wilson and his geologist, Roy Bagley (Rene Auberjonois), call a meeting of their crew, finally revealing their destination. In an area the charts say has no land, a seemingly permanent fog bank has been observed. Infrared and spectrographic photographs obtained from NASA have convinced Wilson and Bagley that there is an uninhabited island inside the fog bank, one overlying a huge deposit of oil. At this point Jack, who has entered the meeting unnoticed, interrupts, challenging Wilson’s conclusions. He tells Wilson that various explorers had previously discovered the island, including one whose log made mention of "the roar of the greatest beast". Wilson accuses Jack of spying for a rival oil company and orders him locked up below deck. As Jack is being led away, he sees something on the horizon: it is an inflatable life raft. The raft is brought in and found to have a single occupant: a beautiful woman. The woman is taken below and put to bed. Wilson, who has had Jack’s credentials checked, finds that he did one year of medical school and orders him to check the woman over. He also tells him that he will be allowed to stay with the expedition as a photographer. The woman regains consciousness, introducing herself as Dwan (Jessica Lange), and revealing that the yacht she was travelling on exploded while she alone was on deck. As the Petrox approaches its destination, Dwan recovers from her ordeal, making friends with crew members and finding herself attracted to Jack. When the ship reaches the fog bank, Wilson tells Dwan she cannot come ashore as he initially promised her, but she coaxes him into allowing it. The landing party goes ashore. Bagley points out a stream, announcing that they will follow it. At the top of a sharp rise, the party finds itself confronted by a huge, man-made wall. Wilson believes it to be an abandoned ruin, but Jack observes that it has been recently repaired. At that moment, the sound of drums is heard. Following the noise, the party becomes witness to a strange native ceremony involving a woman dressed as a bride and a man in an ape mask. Bagley shows Wilson a pond with a dark, viscous fluid in it. The ceremony stops when the newcomers are noticed. The masked native sees Dwan and tries to buy her, offering six native women in exchange. When the offer is rejected the natives become hostile. The party frightens them off by firing their guns in the air. Back on the Petrox, Jack tries to convince Wilson that the natives’ chant of "Kong" referred to a real animal; one held at bay by the enormous wall. Wilson’s only response is to tell Bagley to include explosives in the gear he takes ashore, and to kill anything unusual. Disgusted, Jack decides to steal a boat and go in search of the creature himself. As he takes provisions to the boat, he finds Dwan sitting alone on the loading raft to which the boat is tethered. Responding to her advances, Jack tells her that he will come to her cabin as soon as the boat is loaded. However, no sooner has he left her than a canoe glides silently to the side of the raft, and Dwan is abducted by the natives. When Jack returns, he finds a necklace dropped by one of the natives. Realising what has happened, he alerts Wilson and the others. On the island, a drugged Dwan is substituted for the ceremonial bride and tied to an altar outside the walls. As the chanting natives fall silent, something huge crashes through the forest towards the altar. Dwan looks up and screams in terror as she sees the "groom": it is a gigantic ape….

Comments: Comparisons are odious, of course, but some films simply beg for it. The problem with trying to review something like the Dino de Laurentiis-produced re-make of King Kong is that you come to it with so much baggage. While any re-make is pretty much guaranteed to be treated with suspicion by film-lovers, when the film in question is as well-known and well-loved as the original Kong, suspicion is likely to turn into indignation and contempt. In fact, until recently, this version of Kong was probably the most despised re-make in film history. (Gus Van Sant’s version of Psycho may well have claimed that title in perpetuity. It’s hard to imagine anything that could upset people more – unless, of course, some bright spark decides to re-make Casablanca…. [And yes, I do know about David Soul’s TV series – but has anyone actually seen it?] ) So reviewing this film "cold", as it were, is a difficult task. Still, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to give it a try. And it is in this spirit, not because of odious comparisons, that I say that I can find very little to admire in this version of the venerable tale. When it’s all boiled down, there are two main reasons for this: one is the overall tone of the film; and the other is Kong himself. The farcical tale of Carlo Rambaldi’s mechanical Kong, and the ultimate decision to use Rick Baker and his ape-suit instead, is well-documented. The brief glimpse we get of Rambaldi’s handiwork towards the end of the film leaves us in little doubt that the choice was, on the whole, a wise one. The problem is that Baker and his suit were really only the lesser of two evils. The suit itself is fine, but the resultant creature is not. As I watched the film for the second time this morning it dawned on me exactly what was wrong: a lack of the correct body language. This Kong does quite well in his close-ups, but in the numerous long shots there is precious little effort made to make him seem appropriately ape-like. Instead, he moves like a man, gestures like a man; above all, he walks like a man: bolt upright, on level feet. Never at any time is the viewer lulled into believing that Kong is anything but a guy in a suit. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve nothing against films featuring guys in suits. No-one howled louder than me when I saw a ghastly computer-generated iguana posing as Godzilla in the recent travesty (speaking of despised re-makes….). The thing is, when I’m watching a real Godzilla film, I don’t sit there thinking, "Hey, it’s a guy in a suit." Instead I think, "It’s Godzilla! Yay!" The same thing applies to the two versions of King Kong. The fact is that the story of Kong is, to say the least, somewhat improbable. To make it work, it requires full suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience. Perversely, while the wholly artificial Kong created by Willis O’Brien and his team for the original seems completely "real" to the viewer, Baker’s "real" Kong remains almost entirely fake, in only one scene making the kind of emotional connection with the audience that its predecessor had throughout. (I’ll have more to say on that single scene later.) With such an implausible Kong at its heart, this version of the story never really had a chance. The film also suffers from an unfortunately common malady, a screenplay that can’t make up its mind whether the story is a drama or a comedy. This, for me, is almost as big a shortcoming as Kong’s limitations. Done correctly, the inclusion of jokes in a drama can both heighten and relieve tension, of course, but many films seem to use the inclusion of self-deprecatingly "humorous" one-liners as a form of insurance, so that if the end product sucks the film-makers can say, well, it was never meant to be taken seriously. So here we have lots of gee-how-ironic lines, like Dwan’s revelation that her astronomer told her she would soon meet "the biggest person in my life" or Wilson’s admonition to his crew, "Let’s not get eaten alive out there!" In small doses this might have been bearable, but for me, the moment Jack that points at some uprooted trees and demands, "Who do you think did that, a guy in an ape suit?", this version of King Kong drops stone dead on the spot. Still, I see that a number of other reviewers have praised the film for its "campiness" and its "tongue-in-cheek approach", so I guess it’s a matter of personal taste.

The original King Kong was a tale of its time, the Depression. This one tries to be, too, by having the mid-seventies oil crisis as its backdrop and a bunch of oil executives as its bad guys. Amusing how Hollywood always tries to pretend it doesn’t belong to the world of "evil corporations", isn’t it? We open with our Head Bad Guy, Fred Wilson (played by a surprisingly skinny Charles Grodin), fretting over the possibility of Shell or Exxon beating his team to the oil deposit he believes lies under the island. After sufficient dialogue to let the viewer know that Wilson is far too "evil" to make it to the end credits, we meet our hero, Jack Prescott. Jack is a scientist and an environmentalist, so he’s dishevelled and unkempt, with long hair and a beard (welcome to Stereotype-Land, where every day is the same old adventure!). Jack interrupts Wilson’s speech to the ship’s crew to take issue with Wilson’s claim that the island is unknown and uninhabited. This scene lets us know that King Kong will follow the grand old Bad Movie tradition of the Bad Guy never opening his mouth except to say something that will instantly be proven wrong. (This is part of the "humour" I was telling you about.) These two, ah, "characters" established, we meet the inevitable third point of the triangle: The Woman. On Wilson’s orders, Jack is grabbed by two members of the crew and taken away to be locked in a cabin until they can investigate his credentials. On their way across the deck, Jack spots something on the horizon that turns out to be an inflatable raft. As the raft is captured and hauled to the side of the Petrox, it can be seen that the sole occupant is a beautiful woman clad in an expensive yet extremely skimpy evening dress, lying unconscious in a pose that gives everyone a clear idea of her general anatomy. Not surprisingly, the entire crew gathers eagerly around the railings, licking its chops in anticipation. "She’s alive!" announces the captain and, apparently not into necrophilia, the crew cheers lustily---ah, enthusiastically. The woman is carried below and placed on a bunk so that the audience gets a perfect view of the side of her right breast. Does the "side" of an anatomical feature mean a PG-rating in America? – because we see a lot of "sides" in this film. Someone observes that the woman ought to be undressed so that she can be examined for "internal injuries". The captain responds by chasing his slavering crew out of the room. Meanwhile, Roy Bagley is trying to convince Wilson that Jack’s credentials check out. Learning that Jack had a year of med school before dropping out and becoming a scientist instead (attaboy!), Wilson tells him to take care of the woman. This, we find, involves the highly skilled task of snapping a vial of ammonia (? I hope) under her nose. The woman stirs, turning first to her pillow so that her hair hides her face, then rolling onto her back so that we get the full picture of the ravages that her ordeal has inflicted upon her: immaculate make-up, not a hair out of place, and a nice, glowing tan. The woman sits up and announces that her name is "Dwan" (this may or may not have been intended as a tribute of sorts to veteran director Allan Dwan; if so, I can’t imagine he was particularly flattered). She than launches into one of the most embarrassing opening speeches in film history, in which she reveals that her life was saved because she refused to watch Deep Throat, and was consequently alone on deck when the yacht she was travelling on exploded. For all of King Kong’s environmental posturing, this is as close as the film gets to a genuine message, so pay attention. (King Kong was, of course, the screen debut of Jessica Lange. I have examined her performance in more detail in "Skeletons Out Of The Closet", while some of the reasons it’s the way it is may be found at "Immortal Dialogue".)

As the Petrox Explorer sails towards its destination, we get a montage of Dwan charming the ship’s crew into an attitude of respectful friendship, along with the first hints of a romance developing between her and Jack (surprise!), and the predictable scene of her fashioning herself some clothes out of garments donated by the crew. From the end results, I can only say: she’s one hell of a seamstress. We also get a look at her naked in the shower through an opaque curtain, and a glimpse of the side of her left buttock as she gets out (told ya!). When the Petrox reaches the fog bank surrounding the island, Dwan comes bouncing downstairs clad in a cut-off top that hangs just below her breasts without once moving enough to reveal anything, and the kind of micro-shorts usually associated with obnoxious small boys in Japanese monster movies. (Speaking of bouncing, where exactly did she get the bra she’s wearing!? Guess Ed Wood must have been on board.) Wilson tells her he’s changed his mind about letting her come ashore, but she manages to cutesy-wootsy him into changing it back again. Once on the island (to digress slightly, I noticed during this sequence that, bizarrely, Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges sport identical haircuts in this film; they also spend an equal amount of screentime pushing their hair out of their face), the team follows a stream up onto a plateau where they are confronted by an enormous wall. Wilson calls it an abandoned ruin, Jack of course contradicts him. Wilson declares the island to be uninhabited, and instantly we hear the sound of native drums (comedy!). The team follows the sound and comes across a "native ceremony" involving men wearing long pale stringy costumes that make them look rather like a group of Cousin Its. In the middle of the group is a woman being dressed in a bridal outfit that is suspiciously Judeo-Christian in conception, who is confronted by a man wearing an ape mask and doing a dance that involves a great deal of pelvic thrusting. The ceremony comes to an abrupt halt when the intruders are observed. After copping an eyeful of Dwan, ape-mask guy tries to buy her. When his offer is rejected, the natives charge the team, but are frightened off by shots fired into the air.

Back on the ship, Wilson and Bagley discuss a pond on the island that had a film of something that looked like oil. Jack tries to convince them that the natives’ chant of "Kong!" referred to a real beast. Wilson’s only response is to tell Bagley to take extra explosives on shore and kill "any monkey over four feet high". (All together now: boo, hiss!) Jack calls Wilson an "environmental rapist", pointing that if he killed a "unique new species of animal", then "the kids’d burn every Petrox gas station from Maine to California" (ah, the seventies, when "the kids" could always be relied upon to do the right thing, no matter how illegal or destructive). Wilson, of course, ignores him (boo, hiss!) so Jack decides to steal a boat and go ashore to look for the mysterious "Kong" himself. He is temporarily distracted by Dwan, who is sitting alone on the floating platform at the bottom of the stairs where the boat is tied up. Dwan makes a pass at him, and Jack decides that finding Kong can wait for at least one night (that’s some dedicated environmentalist!). He goes back inside to steal a few more provisions, and at that moment a canoe full of natives glides up and Dwan is abducted. When Jack gets back, he finds a necklace of sharks’ teeth on the platform (in the middle of the platform, too, which is kind of odd considering the natives were nowhere near there) and realises what has happened. On the island, we see a drugged (or maybe just bored) Dwan being prepared for the "wedding". Her outfit is much more elaborate than the one the supplanted bride was wearing and, gosh! – it fits perfectly! And suits her colouring. To the sound of much chanting, Dwan is carried through the gates in the wall and tied to an altar. From afar we hear the sound of something huge moving through the forest. The natives fall silent, and we switch to a POV shot, seeing trees being ripped up and tossed aside (so presumably this ceremony is held infrequently enough to let the trees near the altar grow back completely in between – what were the odds of this "uninhabited" island being "discovered" on the very night it was held?). We then get a close-up of Dwan, who looks up as a shadow falls across her – odd since the light is behind her - and screams.

And so we meet the new Kong. He gazes down at his unusual "bride", then stands up straight, roars, and pounds his chest. How very original. He scoops up the screaming Dwan and departs. Meanwhile, the rescue team approaches the scene of the ceremony and frightens off the natives with flares and gunshots. Opening the gates, they find the abandoned altar and realise [bum, bum, bum…] they’re too late. Wilson charges forward and falls into something that turns out to be one of Kong’s footprints (if this film had been made by the people who did Chamber Of Horrors, we would no doubt have seen an "Irony Incendiary!" or a "Foreshadowing Flare!" at this point). Jack and some of the crew set off into the jungle, while Wilson and the captain set up camp on the beach. We then cut to an extended sequence of Kong playing with his new pet [buttock glimpse!], and are given ample opportunities to contemplate just how unconvincing the mechanical arm that Jessica Lange was asked to interact with is: it has no elbow, for one thing, and its fingers bend only at the first and second knuckles. In the jungle, Jack is trying to keep the other crewmen up to speed. One of them asks rather tactlessly why Kong wouldn’t have chowed down on his "bride" by now, and Jack explains that apes don’t eat meat. This is, of course, rubbish. The persistent crewman (who is possibly intended as a stand-in for the dirty-minded audience) then asks what exactly Kong is planning on doing with her; and Jack, not surprisingly, loses his temper. On the beach, Bagley has to break the news to Wilson that the oil deposit is a wash-out. Wilson, who has already cabled New York that he’s "bringing in the big one", has a lightbulb moment and orders an airdrop of equipment. Back on the trail, Jack and the others have the misfortune to catch up with Kong and Dwan just after they’ve crossed the inevitable log across an abyss. Equally inevitably, we get a re-working of the "shaken off the log" scene from the original. The only two survivors are Jack and, truly remarkably, the film’s token black guy. As he hangs from a vine on the far side of the abyss, Jack calls to him, "Try to make it back!" (gee, thanks, whitey – never would have thought of that!) and goes back to the chase. At the gates, Wilson has the rest of the crew digging a pit to be lined with gas bombs, and rejects the captain’s request for a search party to go after the others (boo, hiss!). But just then, our token black guy staggers into camp and makes a dramatic throat-cutting gesture by way of breaking the bad news. Kong, meanwhile, has stopped to gaze up at the full moon, which is just to the right of a pair of rock formations ("Foreshadowing Flare!"), before indulging in another play session, poking and prodding at Dwan’s clothes until her top comes undone [breast glimpse!]. At that moment, a giant snake comes speeding through the undergrowth, and Kong puts Dwan aside and plunges into battle (this sequence is actually pretty good). Jack appears, and takes advantage of Kong’s situation by grabbing Dwan [breast glimpse!] and making a run for it. The two make it back to the gates just minutes ahead of the outraged ape. Kong bashes his way through the gates and falls into Wilson’s trap, succumbing to the gas cloud that envelops him. Remarkable gas, too. Takes out a fifty-foot ape, but doesn’t harm any of the humans standing about three feet away. Possibly this is because it never lifts above ankle height, but rather hugs the ground just like – oh, I don’t know? – dry ice vapour?

Next thing we know, we’re back on the boat, the tricky issue of just how they got Kong on board and into the huge oil tank having been skipped over somewhat lightly. Kong is moaning unhappily, and Dwan is having a crisis of conscience. But then Wilson comes charging in with the news that he’s arranged for Kong to be exhibited coast to coast, and that Dwan will be the star of the show. Dwan is thrilled until Jack’s attitude shows her the error of her ways. A deeply moving battle [*cough*] between Dwan’s head and heart then begins. That evening, her heart is starting to win out. However, as she and Jack kiss up on deck, her scarf falls into Kong’s enclosure. Picking up his "bride’s" scent, Kong goes berserk, nearly sinking the ship. The captain decides to flood the tank and drown him, but Dwan intervenes, climbing out onto the railings over the tank and speaking to Kong to calm him. Kong leaps up to try and grab her, and the impact of his landing knocks her off her perch. But Kong catches her safely and puts her gently down, allowing her to climb up a ladder and out of the tank. The rest of the journey is presumably without incident, as the next thing we know we’re in New York, and Dwan is preparing for Her Big Break. (Speaking of skipping lightly over things, don’t you have quarantine restrictions in America? And what insurance company would be crazy enough to cover an event like this? I would also ask, what Mayor of New York would be crazy enough to allow it, but as it turns out later, we get an answer to that.) Jack appears and makes one more effort to talk Dwan out of it, telling her he loves her. Wilson responds by telling her not just that she’ll "never work in this town again" if she walks, but that she will never get another booking in her life. Whoo! Who knew oil executives were that powerful? Jack leaves, but cannot tear himself away completely. Instead he lurks in the crowd gathered for Kong’s first public appearance. Now, in fairness, I have to say that the next sequence really does work. In the film’s single successful piece of satire, the whole Kong display is so tacky, so lurid, so utterly tasteless that you can actually imagine it happening just this way. We see a platform surrounded by audience seating decked out in festoons of red, white and blue, and occupied by the "lucky competition winners", while on the platform is a mock-up of the bridal altar from the island. Dwan, in a silver evening gown, is "tied" to the altar, while Wilson, in full Big White Hunter regalia, blathers into a microphone about "The power! The power of Kong – and Petrox!" At that moment a "gate" opens and we see – an enormous Petrox gas pump! The "pump" glides forward, then lifts to reveal – Kong! Kong in chains, surrounded by a cage, and wearing on his head a gold crown that looks just like it came out of an oversized Christmas cracker. The crowd bursts into applause, flashbulbs go off, and a bunch of really stupid reporters rushes up onto the platform to shove Dwan into various poses. Kong, of course, is less than thrilled at this, and makes short work of his wrist manacles. The crowd gasps. "Don’t worry, folks!" calls Wilson. "That is an escape-proof cage---" and we cut to Kong tearing it to pieces (comedy!). "His legs are still manacled - !" gasps an increasingly sweaty Wilson. Snap, snap! (Comedy!) Kong then wanders over towards a large section of the crowd, and a middle-aged woman screams. Incredibly, it is not until then that anyone in the crowd budges (meaning that for the second week in a row I get to cast aspersions on the intelligence of Noo Yorkers), but at the sound of this seemingly universal signal for a panic, we have a stampede on our hands. Dwan is knocked over and nearly trampled, but is rescued by Jack. Kong wrecks everything he can get his hands on, and shreds of red, white and blue flutter down on the terrified crowd. He then stomps a few people into the ground, just for variation, before catching sight of Fred Wilson. With a mighty roar, Kong lifts one foot, and – SPLAT!!!! ("Irony Incendiary!")

In an effort to escape the disaster zone, Jack and Dwan – now, do you believe this? – get on a train. I mean, for heaven’s sake, people! Don’t you watch movies? It’s all right for them, of course; they’re the hero and heroine, so they know they’re safe; but what about the other poor people on board? And sure enough, there’s Kong waiting on down the line. Carriages go in all directions. Jack and Dwan escape, naturally, while everyone else gets turned into confetti. (Spare a thought for the woman unfortunate enough to be dressed like Dwan: she is inspected by Kong, then – discarded rather roughly.) Meanwhile, Jack and Dwan make it across the bridge, where they figure they’re safe because "the bridge is mined and apes can’t swim". This may be true; but when, as it turns out, the ape is taller than the river is deep, it hardly matters. Evading the helicopters searching for him (hilariously, Kong presses back against a building, and the search party doesn’t see him), Kong simply wades to the other side. Dwan drags Jack into a bar, which has been evacuated so hurriedly that numerous valuable possessions have been left lying around. This seems odd. Didn’t we just establish that this side of the river was "safe"? Never mind. All becomes clear when Jack drapes a discarded chinchilla coat around Dwan’s shoulder’s and asks her gloomily if she knows what an Associate Professor earns. Dwan tries to convince him that she doesn’t care about money, but he doesn’t believe her. Neither do we, for that matter. Outside, Kong does the traditional monster-movie thing and blunders into some powerlines, cutting off the city’s power. Jack is then seriously distracted by a lightbulb moment of his own. You see, on the way into the bar he gazed up at the full moon just to the right of the World Trade Centre and had a feeling of déjà vu. Now it dwans---sorry, dawns on him where Kong is heading; and he rushes out to tell the Mayor’s Office. Trying to cut a deal, Jack promises to tell where Kong is going if the Mayor will give his word that Kong will be captured, not killed. The Mayor does promise, and Jack spills the beans, adding that Kong will climb one of the Towers (why? – he didn’t climb the peaks on the island). But, alas! We know what Jack doesn’t: that the Mayor of New York is being played by [da da-da dah da-da daahh!!] John Agar!! – and he’s got that Arousian glint in his eye. Sure enough, no sooner does Jack hang up than the Mayor orders a fleet of gun ships into the air.

Meanwhile, Dwan is admiring her chinchilla-ed reflection in a mirror, not noticing the whacking great eyeball gazing at her through a window. The mechanical arm then makes a reappearance in a moment comically reminiscent of Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman, and Dwan is back in Kong’s clutches. Jack returns just in time to see Kong striding towards – yup, the World Trade Centre, through streets that seem magically deserted. Gee, New York must be a lot easier to evacuate than Tokyo, for instance. At that moment, the power comes back on (you’ll find out why in a minute). Though tailed by the army, Kong reaches the Trade Centre and, sure enough, starts climbing up one of the Towers. Jack is still is pursuit, of course, and takes an elevator as high as he can (there, ya see?). Kong makes it to the roof before him, though, and is attacked by soldiers wielding flame-throwers, who get up there on one of those window-washing platforms. Kong howls in pain, and escapes by leaping through the air to the top of the other Tower. He nearly doesn’t make it, but clutches the edge of the building and hauls himself up. He then picks up a drum of something-or-other and tosses it across at his attackers, where it explodes and blows them to smithereens. Trapped in Tower #1, Jack gives a hearty "Yeah!" and waves his fists triumphantly.

But the end is all too near for poor Kong. And this is that one scene that I mentioned earlier, when the characters of Dwan and Kong really do connect with audience. Because when the Mayor’s gun ships fly towards Kong and Dwan realises what’s happening, she tries to make Kong pick her up again, and use her as a human shield. Even as the bullets start to fly Dwan hangs in there, tugging at Kong’s fur and shrieking at him to "Pick me up! Pick me up!" But Kong, gentleman that he is, is having none of it, pushing Dwan to safety even as the bullets begin to rip into his body. And rip into him they do: this scene is horrendously bloody. It is fairly well-known that when questioned as to why he wanted to do this re-make, Dino de Laurentiis cited the emotional impact of the ending (giving the world a piece of Immortal Dialogue of his own with the line "Nobody cry when Jaws die" – an attitude that didn’t stop ol’ Dino ripping off Jaws a year later with Orca). The problem here is that Dino obviously wasn’t sure that the audience would cry when his "Konk" died, and so went literally for overkill by having the poor beast turned into walking Ape Tartare. To make things worse, Kong doesn’t even get to take out most of the helicopters before he dies. Instead, mortally wounded, he collapses to the rooftop and then, as Dwan approaches, rolls off the edge of the building, crashing into the street below. Almost the next instant, Dwan appears at his side (huh? – what’d she do, jump down after him?), and Kong dies with his eyes upon her. And the camera pulls back as some of King Kong’s alleged 45,000 extras close in. All in all, an ending with more emotional impact than the film it closes deserves – perhaps proving that there are some things that not even Dino de Laurentiis can ruin. That’s not to say he didn’t give it one more try ten years later with one of the worst sequels ever made: the almost surreally stupid King Kong Lives.

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