Originally published 06/24/2013
We all remember King Kong, the lovable big ape from Skull Island, in the last scenes of the 1933 black and white movie, which mesmerized Depression audiences. He was on stage at a Broadway theater, ripping apart his manacles and getting ready to romp through Times Square in search of his true love, Anne Darrow, who, he thought, had a thing for gorillas.Now King Kong is back yet again. Last week, a new musical based on the 1933 Kong Kong movie opened in Melbourne, Australia, and will play through the end of August. If it does well, the talk is that the play will head to Broadway in 2014. Kong will be back home, lumbering through the canyons of New York and trying to swat planes from the top of the Empire State Building.What is the magic of the King Kong story, still successful in this fading recession, eighty years later? Americans have always loved exotic beasts from the past, but none have captured our hearts like King Kong.
Originally published 03/07/2013
Fay Wray's beauty and a sortie of biplanes felled King Kong on-screen, but not even the Depression could stop the success of 1933 film."The premiere was the day before Roosevelt's inauguration and the week of the bank holiday," said Film Forum repertory programmer Bruce Goldstein. Despite the national cash freeze, "King Kong" was a smash. "No Money! Yet New York dug up $89,931 in 4 days to see 'King Kong'" crowed a full-page ad taken in Variety by the film's producers.Sunday, 80 years to the day after the film had its premiere, a packed house gathered at Film Forum for a matinee birthday celebration of "Kong." The screening was followed by a Fay Wray scream-alike contest honoring the late star of the film and Forum member's repartee with her famed co-star."Fay Wray's screaming in the original film is so memorable," said Tony Timpone, one of seven judges empaneled to select a winner from 37 contestants and the editor emeritus of Fangoria magazine, a publication devoted to the horror genre. "She's pretty much the original scream queen. She must have been hoarse for years."...