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Kooshmeister
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« on: December 18, 2006, 12:18:48 PM »

Name of the Movie: King Kong (1976)
Rated: PG
Rating: 4 slimes

Characters:
Dwan - Jessica Lange! Her name used to be "Dawn," but she changed it to Dwan for reasons never really gone into. Found adrift in a life raft.
Jack Prescott - Jeff Bridges! Jack is a primate paleontologist, and a scruffy hippie-ish one at that. Pines for Dwan but finds intense competition from a giant ape.
Fred Wilson - Charles Grodin! Abrasive, greedy, and outright stupid executive of the almighty Petrox Corporation. Squashed.
Captain Ross - John Randolph! The wise old captain of the Petrox Explorer.
Carnahan - Ed Lauter! Ross' irritable first mate. Does a fatal bellyflop off a log bridge and into a deep chasm.
Roy Bagley - Rene Auberjonois! Roy is (apparently) a geologist and is the only person in the world Fred Wilson can be considered friends with.
Joe Perko, Boan, Garcia, and Timmons - Some of the ship's crew. Most of them die when Kong shakes them off the log.
King Kong - Rick Baker! The real star of the movie, a giant gorilla with a real short temper. Machine-gunned by army helicopters, he swan-dives off the Twin Towers.

I'm one of this movie's few fans, I'll go ahead and say that right at the outset. King Kong 1976 is a movie that I feel is often unjustly panned by people. I first saw the movie in the early 90s (I'm unsure precisely when) and I remember being initially disappointed that there were no dinosaurs, only a hokey giant python. However about two years ago I was inspired to revisit the film when I read online all the really awful things everyone says about it. I remembered being upset about no dinosaurs, but that was my only problem with the movie. Surely it couldn't be as bad as everyone said it was. Luckily the local video store had it for rent and I gave it another whirl as soon as I got home. I found it to be a little slow in parts with some hammy acting but otherwise surprisingly not that bad. Since then, I've become a defender of the film whenever people start going off on it, and I have never, ever understood the sheer hatred people seem to have for it.

Personally I think Jackson's version is a pretentious pile of dino dookie whose best ideas actually originated in this film, despite his repeated claims to the contrary. King Kong 1933 is just a turn-off-your-brain action-adventure movie with paper-thin characters and lousy acting apart from Robert Armstrong. King Kong 1976 tried to breathe some life into the characters (albeit its own since apart from Kong himself it reuses none from the original) and make them seem more like real people. Sure, the end result leaves quite a bit to be desired, especially in Charles Grodin's case, but there's something to be said for the fact they actually tried. And most importantly, unlike Jackson, they showed restraint, and didn't try to flesh out nearly every single member of the cast.

Regardless of what anyone says, most of what people normally attribute to KK 33 actually comes from KK 76. For example, the so-called relationship between Kong and the human woman. Sure, Kong was smitten with Ann in the first one, but the feeling was not mutual at all. KK 76 was the first time the it was mutual; the first time that the woman (Dwan in this case) returned Kong's affections and mourned his death, and even tried to give her life to save him. None of this is present in the original, which lacks depth and is emotionless apart from the timeless feeling of discovery the audience shares with Denham while on the island.

I think King Kong 1933 is just a simple little adventure movie that people have attached all sorts of pretentious, and ultimately meaningless, subtext and themes to in the years since its release, and just about everybody loves it. Meanwhile King Kong 1976 actually tried to develop the story beyond just a simple prehistoric island/monster run amok flick, and has been hated and reviled by half the civilized world ever since, ostensibly because it "disrespects" the original... although to be honest I can't think of anyone who has come up with any evidence of this disrespect. All they do is say it does and they leave it at that. If they do elaborate, they just go on about what KK 33 did that KK 76 doesn't.

As for Jackson's film, I admire that it tries to be a happy medium between the two - an action-adventure movie with character depth - and in some instances it works, but overall I was disappointed with it. It's not a terrible movie by any means, just a little too bloated, pretentious, and overlong.

Oh, and one thing I like about this film is their reason for going to the island. It being funded by an oil company seems a lot more realistic than the half-assed moviemaking expedition of the other two. Maybe I just don't respect guerilla filmmakers like Denham who do things on the cheap, but the whole time I'm watching the movie(s) I'm wondering what in the world Denham's movie would've ultimately ended up looking like with the precious little materials he's got to work with. At least Jackson was nice enough to give him a second actor apart from Ann in his version.

Oh well. I enjoy the movie. Hell, I like all three versions of the story: 1933, 1976, and yes even 2005. Each one has its own ups and downs. I just wish people who get off their high horse sometimes and quit bashing King Kong 76 just because it isn't like the original, which nearly everyone everywhere holds up as a timeless classic - which it is, but it's not perfect itself by any means, certainly not to the extent that everyone says; it's a monster movie, people, and nothing more. If you want a complete copy of the original King Kong, go watch the original, or watch Peter Jackson's. If you want something different, for better or for worse, there's always King Kong 76.

It's also worth noting that despite its infamous reputation none of the big bad movie review sites - or movie review sites in general - seem willing to touch it (I've found a grand total of three reviews, only two of which were actually fair and impartial to the film). Most of them instead only tackle the film's sequel, King Kong Lives. It also gets mentioned in other reviews. And in nearly every case the reviewer goes out of their way to dismiss it as atrocious, horrible, or some other colorful synonym for "bad," making sure to mention Dino De Laurentis in the process. And because it isn't the main focus of the review, they can afford not having to go into precisely why it's so bad, and why and how it supposedly ruins Kong's "good name."

And I have a theory. That theory is that despite the fact so many people dislike it, not one of them can come up with a compelling reason for why the movie is awful, apart from the usual problems that can be said of any movie (hammy acting, cheesy special effects, and so forth). All I've ever seen is people bellyaching about it and spouting hateful rhetoric which basically boils down to "I don't like it, so it must be the worst film ever."

Anyway, on with the movie! The movie begins in what a subtitle tells us is Surabaya, Indonesia. The Petrox Explorer, a company-owned vessel, is docked and being loaded with cargo as armed guards strut about (!). We focus on Joe, a big lug of a sailor, who goes over and asks token black sailor Boan "how much he's got." He's referring to some pipes that are to be used for drilling. Boan informs him he's got 800 feet, prompting Joe to go and speak with "Mr. Bagley," a wavy-haired geologist (oddly without a doctor title), who he tells about the problem. Bagley says that'll be enough, and when the two crewmen question this, he replies that the one hole they'll drill will produce oil, or "it's a writeoff." Odd that Petrox is staking its entire profit margin on this voyage, but seems unwilling to grant the crew enough equipment.

We cut to the bridge of the Explorer, where Fred Wilson is informed by Captain "Might as Well Not Be in the Movie" Ross that there's a storm front moving in and if they leave port tonight they'll sail right through it. He advises Fred to stay in port until it blows over, but Fred says "the hell with the weather," and says every hour they delay gives rival companies Shell and Exxon a chance of "beating us to the island." Ross points out that they're the only ones who even know about the damn island, but Fred cuts him off and tells him to sail right away. Ross says he'll be sorry, and then goes and tells his First Mate, Carnahan, to begin preparing to leave.

And who should arrive by taxi at this point but Jack Prescott, hippie scientist! He's wearing the uniform of one of the Explorer's crew and for some reason he acts like he's drunk (which could probably have been explained by a deleted scene where Jack acquires the uniform from a drunken crew member in a local bar). He bribes that guard at the gate, and is let in. The other guards he sneaks past, since I guess he spent all his hush-up money on the first guy, and he manages to stealthily slip aboard the ship just moments before they cast off. Meeting one another on deck, Fred and Bagley exchange pleasantries. "Here's to the big one!" says Fred, giving a solo toast with a bourbon glass.

Cue the movie's title and opening credits, shown over a montage of the Explorer at sea. After the credits are done with, the storm hits, just like Captain Ross predicted. We see that Jack is hiding in one of the lifeboats as huge waves crash over the deck, and then we join the radio man as he picks up a mayday signal. A very unconcerned-sounding mayday signal. He decides to alert the Captain. Cut to Fred and Ross in the onboard conferance room eating dinner. Or trying to, anyway. The plates and food keeps sliding wildly around the table as the ship rocks. Ross gives the standard "I told you so" speech, and when Fred finally gets up to go outside and throw up on account of seasickness (or so it's implied), the radio guy phones the conferance room and informs Ross about the mayday call. He's told to keep on it.

The next day, pretty much every character we've met so far plus a lot of other nameless guys meet in the ship's mess hall, where a projector has been set up. Fred and Bagley take turns explaining about the island (which is never identified by name), and how it was discovered by accident when a NASA spy satellite went "way off course" and photographed it by mistake. The satellite images show a lot of fog surrounding it which is what hides it from the view of ships passing by in the area. It also shows carbon dioxide which Bagley seems to think is caused by gases seeping up from oil wells beneath the surface. During their joint speech, Jack, still wearing a crew uniform, snuck in, and when Fred says he's betting everything he's got on the island producing huge, Jack makes his presence known by saying "I'll take fifty cents of that."

All eyes turn to him, and Jack walks over and immediately takes control of the discussion to explain to the gawking crew members more about the island. Namely, that it's been discovered before. Sort of. A few explorers had found it previously, completely by accident, and all spoke of a huge beast somewhat humanoid in shape but still animalistic. Thus, Jack concludes, the excess carbon dioxide is caused by "animal breathing." Well, that's a stretch. Needless to say it's at this point that Fred pipes up and demands to know who this guy is. When First Mate Carnahan can't account for him, Fred realizes he's a stowaway, and immediately leaps to th conclusion that he's a spy sent by another oil company.

Pretty soon Jack is being given the "good cop, bad cop" routine from Fred and the Captain. He insists he's just a scientist and that his interest in the island have nothing to do with oil at all. Fred still doesn't believe him, and orders him locked up below and not given any food until he "stops spoutin' apes**t." Har-har. Jack is seized by a skinny little hillbilly named Sunfish (!) and a big Spanish brute named Garcia and dragged outside. He suddenly spies something on the horizon and tries to point it out to the sailors, but they're all "Yeah, right." Finally Jack manages to break away from them and runs off, with Sunfish and Garcia chasing after him. He happens upon a geriatric-looking sailor named Timmons who happens to have binoculars. At Jack's insistence, he uses them and spies a liferaft in the distance.

A short time later, the Explorer has stopped and the raft drifts over alongside her. The crew all look delighted to see that its sole occupant is a beautiful blonde woman in an expensive-looking black evening dress. Carnahan and Joe bring her aboard and then Carnahan checks her pulse. "She's alive!" he cries, prompting the entire crew to begin cheering loudly. Boy howdy, a real live female on board!

(To be continued!)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2006, 04:16:56 AM by Kooshmeister » Logged
Kooshmeister
The King of Koosh!
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2006, 12:21:10 PM »

The woman is carried into Captain Ross' cabin, and most of the crew follows. Joe starts trying to act like he's got medical training and volunteers to undress her to check for bruises. Ross responds by chasing him and everyone else except for Carnahan out of the room. When they're alone, the Captain and First Mate properly (and gentlemanly) examine the girl, as Fred comes in. The most they ascertain about her is she must have come from the ship they got a mayday call from earlier.

Later, a fax comes through which Bagley and Fred pick up. This turns out to be Jack Prescott's navy record. Bagley says he's "kosher," and therefore not a corporate spy, so Fred decides to go and let him out of the brig. He makes him the expedition's "official photographer," since among the items he found while searching Jack's bag was a camera. After learning that Jack had a year of medical school, he asks him to look after the shipwrecked gal, and naturally she awakens only when Jack is present. She then tells him (and Fred) that her name is Dwan, although it used to be Dawn. She changed it, though. Throughout this scene and many more, she acts extremely bubbleheaded and naive, with varying degrees of tolerance. Anyway, from her we learn that she is an aspiring actress who was on a pleasure cruise on a friend's yacht. Said friend and most of the other passengers opted to watch the porno film Deep Throat, and Dwan, who did not, went up on deck. Thus she was in a position to get to a liferaft when the storm hit them. As the capper to this story, she cheerfully asks Jack and Fred whether or not they've ever met anyone else "whose life was saved by Deep Throat."

Cue another montage of the voyage, this one showing how Dwan, who the Petrox people have allowed to tag along in lieu of taking her all the way back to Surabaya, is integrating herself into the lives of the crew. The sailors make clothes for her, she makes goo-goo eyes at Jack, and pretty soon she and Jack are quite clearly falling in love. Unlike Peter Jackson's version, this section of the movie does not go on for too long, and before you know it, the Petrox Explorer has dropped anchor just beyond the fog bank that surrounds the island. Trying to sound philosophical as he stands at the bow with Jack and Captain Ross, Fred says he always wondered how Cortez felt upon first seeing the Inca treasure. "Actually, that was Pizarro, and he died busted, Fred," Jack corrects him. Fred shoots him an annoyed look in one of the film's better comedy bits.

They do a radar scan of the fog and discover there is indeed an island at the center of it. During this, a big blip appears on the screen for a second (forshadowing!!!), but our explorers pass this off as nothing. It is decided that Fred, Jack, and Carnahan will take a party consisting of Bagley, Joe, Boan, Garcia, and Timmons ashore to have a look at the island. Dwan, wearing a really small shirt and even tinier shorts, demands to go with. Initially Fred refuses, but Dwan persuades him to let her tag along because she's a loyal Petrox customer. Or something along those lines. As everyone gets aboard a speedboat, Dwan tells Jack that her horoscope said she would "cross over water, and meet the biggest person in my life." For some reason she thinks this is Fred, but we all know the truth, don't we?

The go through the fog bank and soon land on the beach. After a cheesy bit where Fred has Jack take pictures of him stepping off the boat and onto the shore like some old world explorer, he tells Carnahan, "Let's not get eaten alive on this island," and tells him to get the bugspray. This would be funnier if this version of the movie actually had dinosaurs who could eat the sailors, but alas, it was not to be. Jack snaps some photos of Dwan doing sexy poses on the beach, and then she sees a waterfall nearby and with a cry of "Last one to get a drink's a rotten egg!" she goes charging off, despite Jack yelling for her to stop. Oy.

He manages to catch up to her and tells her not to "run off on anymore solos." Sound advice, I guess. He tells her to stick close by him for the duration of the exploration. Cut to a brief little montage of them trekking across the island, which for all appearances is actually bigger than the ones in the other two films, and soon they come upon a gigantic wall made out of timber. Fred exclaims that it looks "as old as the pyramids of Egypt," and Jack says it could very well be, except "the pyramids weren't repaired six weeks ago," and points out earth packed into some broken bits. He says they "have to repaired after each monsoon season." One of my few problems with Jack here is that he knows way, way too much about the island and the habits of its natives.

Carnahan asks Jack if he means there are people living on the island, to which Jack replies yes. Fred isn't buying it, though. He declares the wall an ancient ruin, and the island completely uninhated, only to be interrupted by the sound of distant drums, making the sailor bristle and clutch their rifles a little tighter. The group proceeds forwards and crouches down on a outcropping overlooking a very dusty-looking native village, where a ceremony of some sort is taking place, complete with guys dressed in ghostlike burlap sacks and a lead priest in an ape mask and a thong (!) doing all sorts of sexual dance moves in front of a pretty woman brought in by some handmaidens. There's a huge gate in the wall, too. Hmm. Dwan insists that it's a wedding, and Jack says that the groom is probably on the other side of the wall. Ha. Meanwhile, Fred is uninterested in the native ceremony, spying a pool of black liquid down below. He shows it to Bagley, who admits that "it sure as hell could be oil."

Suddenly, Ape Mask Guy looks up and sees the introlopers on the ridge above and the ceremonies come to a screeching halt. Accompanied by some spear-wielding warrior types, he immediately hurries up to confront them. Jack tells everyone to act friendly, and Fred asks what they do if "they're not buyin'." Jack responds by telling the sailors to shoot in the air only. (Oddly, the DVD version of the film has Fred's question to Jack completely inaudible, but Jack's answer can be heard perfectly clear.)

Ape Mask Guy walks up to them shaking his fists and making broad gestures at them, and although Jack cannot understand his language, he understands the tone: he's angry that they've intruded on them, and wants them to leave. They're about to when Ape Mask Guy spots Dwan, and after conferring with a couple of the Burlap Sack Men, he summons over six women and Jack infers that he wishes to trade them for Dwan. When Fred angrily tells them no, the natives charge. Jack yells for the sailors to fire, and they shoot their rifles into the air. The natives retreat, and so do the explorers - in the opposite direction.

Later that night, everyone is back aboard the Explorer. In the conferance room, Jack, Wilson, and Captain Ross are discussing what they ought to do. Wilson advocates going back the next morning and trying to trade shiney trinkets for ownership of the island, prompting Jack to point out, "This is no longer the 19th century. We can't just walk in grab their island," to which Fred contemptuously responds, "Thanks, Jack, we'll check that with the U.N." Talk turns to Kong, and here we get one of the story's flubs: without any real evidence, the characters discuss Kong as if he actually exists. Which he does, but at this point they shouldn't know that (one of the improvements in Jackson's version is making sure that the expedition doesn't really know what they're going to encounter on the island).

Fred tells Ross to outfit his crew with explosives and to send "any monkey over four feet high" "bang-bang," which naturally p**ses Jack off tremendously, telling Fred even a money-grubbing little twerp like him wouldn't knowingly eradicate a potentially new species. Fred gives him the silent treatment, however, and so Jack angrily storms out of the room. Later, Dwan, unaware that natives are currently paddling out to the Explorer in a canoe, finds Jack loading supplies into a boat, and when pressed he explains, more or less, that he's going to sneak onto the island for a look at Kong before Ross' crew has him blown into oblivion. Dwan asks to accompany him, Jack says no go, Dwan then persuades Jack to hold off his little sightseeing expedition long enough for some quick nookie. Jack agrees, but after he's done loading up his boat. It's when he heads off to finish "stealing in the galley," leaving Dwan alone, that the natives paddle up and snatch her.

Inside, Fred gives Bagley a fax to send to the Petrox company headquarters in New York, which basically says they've found "the big one." Bagley warns him not to jump the gun, since they haven't even tested the oil they saw, and Fred waves him off and says whiners don't make it very far up the corporate ladder. Bagley, like Ross before him, basically tells Fred he'll be sorry, but then heads off to do his boss' bidding. Meanwhile, Jack returns to the boat to find Dwan gone. He does find a bracelet from one of the natives that (apparently) came off in the struggle. The only problem is, it didn't. Hooray for continuity.

Cut to the native village on the island, where Dwan, looking like she's been drugged (and she probably has) being decked out in native bridal gear and then carried to the town center where the natives are all whipped up into a frenzy like nothing we saw previously. She just sits there, dazed, as Ape Mask Guy does his freaky hip-thrusting dance in front of her, which is fairly disturbing in an amusing sort of way. The natives then open the massive gate, and carry Dwan through it and use vines to tie her between two big pillars. Then, they leave her there, go back outside the wall, close and lock the gate, and then everyone heads up to the top to watch. I know I'm just breezing through this bit and making it seems kind of insubstantial, but in reality, out of the three versions of the story, King Kong 1976's sacrificial ceremony is my favorite. In the other two versions it just breezes on through it with very little fanfare. Not so here, where they take their time building up to Kong's entrance.

Kong, played by Rick Baker in an ape costume, stomps into the movie, knocking down huge trees as he approaches the pillars where Dwan is tied. The natives stop their chanting and everything goes silent except for the (mostly) offscreen Kong's deep breathing. Slowly, Dwan looks up, and screams as she finds the giant gorilla standing over her. Kong does his thing, throwing back his head and roaring and thumping his chest, before he grabs Dwan, breaking the vines holding her to the pillars, and lifts her up. She screams some more, and then faints, and Kong turns and carries her off into the jungle.

The natives come down from the wall and resume their wild party, just as Jack, Fred, Ross, and Carnahan arrive with just about the entire crew of the Explorer. A few gunshots and fireworks (!) succeed in scaring the natives away, and then Jack and some of the crew open the gate and everyone goes through to find no sign of Dwan. Fred says someone took her, then immediately falls into a "hole" that turns out to be one of Kong's footprints.

Later, Jack and Carnahan, wearing backpacks, are trudging through the jungle in search of Dwan and her abductor, accompanied by Joe, Boan, Garcia, and Timmons. The search party keeps in touch with Fred via a radio Carnahan is carrying. There's some arguement over whether or not they ought to camp for the night, and when they do, Carnahan asks Jack that if Kong isn't going to eat Dwan, what, then, is he going to do to her. He's obviously insinuating that he'll have freaky ape sex with her, and not surprisingly, Jack tells him to shut up.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2006, 01:03:21 PM by Kooshmeister » Logged
Kooshmeister
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2006, 12:24:38 PM »

The next morning, Dwan awakens to find herself sleeping in a small cave. Kong slumbers nearby. When she tries to get away, Kong wakes up and uses his huge hand to bar her escape. He proceeds to poke her with his finger a lot, until she runs, and then he stomps after her and grabs her again, lifting her up to his face. Dwan pleads for him to put her down, because she can't stand heights, recanting a story of when she was a little girl and got sick in the elevator of the Empire State Building (!). Kong makes as if to eat her, and Dwan, angry, begins punching him in the nose and daring him to do it, saying she hopes he chokes on her. But Kong does not eat her. Instead, he just glowers angrily. Dwan changes tactics, and begins trying to make friends with the huge ape, asking him what his "sign" is. But when Kong puts her down again, she once more attempts to run.

She doesn't get very far before she falls into a huge mud puddle. Kong quickly catches up and roars, angrily pounding his fist into the ground beside her, just barely missing squashing her. He grabs her once again, and she uselessly tries to push his fingers apart, and then, in one of the most effective moments in the movie, screams for someone to help her loud enough that it echoes all the way through the valley to where the search party is trudging along.

They stop and Carnahan fires a flare into the sky to give Fred and co. their location, and during a subsequent radio conversation, Fred orders the party to forget about trying to rescue Dwan long enough to plant seismic charges, in order to map the island's geological structure. Jack, understandably anxious to get a move on, persuades the sailors to work faster by lying and saying Kong might be headed their way.

Meanwhile, Kong takes the muddy Dwan to a waterfall, which he holds her under, washing off all the mud. This is, to me anyway, one of the most touching scenes in the film, and where the relationship between Kong and the girl really begins to differ from the original. After her waterfall shower and a dip into a pond, Kong dries Dwan off by blowing on her, although I hope for her sake that he doesn't have bad breath.

Back at the beach, Bagley arrives and tells Fred he's finished testing the oil from the pools in the village. To Fred's dismay, it's immature. Bagley says it needs another ten-thousand years before it'll become usable fuel, and Fred, remembering the fax he sent to New York, realizes he's ruined. But suddenly he gets an idea. Earlier, while they were estimating Kong's height based on his footprint, Captain Ross had said he'd "make one hell of a commercial." And now Fred's mental gears are beginning to turn, and I think we can all see precisely where this is headed for Kong.

Back on the trail, Jack, Carnahan and the other four come to a deep canyon bridged by the familiar log. At Joe's suggestion, Jack crosses first, then calls the others to follow. They're halfway across when Kong appears literally out of nowhere, roaring menacingly. Everyone on the log fires on Kong with their rifles, which severely p**ses him off. Jack hides on a little ledge a few feet down while Carnahan and the others tear ass back across the log, only to have Kong grab the thing and start rolling it, dropping the sailors off one by one. Carnahan for some inexplicable reason decides standing up and trying to walk back across the log is a good idea. Needless to say, he takes the plunge, leaving only Boan.

He manages to jump off to safety, though, and after trying and failing to get Jack, Kong departs after throwing the entire log down into the chasm and we hear an offscreen Dwan scream for no apparent reason. The new plan is for Boan to return, while Jack continues on after the big ape.

In the meantime, while Jack is away Fred will play. He's begun building a "monkey trap," having a bulldozer dig a big pit in front of the gate of the wall. He's unconcerned that efforts to raise the search party have failed, and denies Captain Ross' request to take some guys to find them (a search party to find a search party?). Boan then returns bearing the bad news that everyone but himself and Jack are dead, not that this affects Fred's harebrained scheme all that much.

Back with Kong and Dwan, they have arrived at what I'm assuming is Kong's lair, which just amounts to a fog-enshrouded rocky cove somewhere in the mountains of the island. One of its main features are a pair of tall pinnacles that will become important later on. Kong sits down for some quality time with his newfound girlfriend, despite her telling him it'll never work out between them. Kong starts pawing at her insistently, and manages to kinda-sorta take her top off, although she modestly covers her breasts. This is more gratuitous than in the original film, but nothing compared to the 1991 Don Simpson comic, wherein Ann literally ends up in nothing but her bra and panties (!).

Kong's fun is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a giant python, which tries to eat Dwan. This snake literally comes out of nowhere, but, originally, it was supposed to appear earlier in the film and attack Jack and Carnahan's party, but I don't think the scene was ever filmed. One of the main complaints lobbied against this movie is its lack of action set on the island; the first python encounter would've actually amped things up a bit, so I don't know why it was cut.

Anyway, while Kong does his thing and fights with the snake, Jack arrives and Dwan immediately flees into his arms. He's kind enough to give her his shirt to cover her toplessness, meaning Jeff Bridges fans now get to see him running around shirtless. Mrowr. Kong sees this and gets plenty mad. Mad enough to quit fooling around and just kill the python by ripping its head in half. He then runs after Dwan and Jack, who jump off a convenient cliff and into a raging river below. For some reason, Kong opts not to follow them. I know apes can't swim, but, to Kong, the water is probably just ankle-deep, a fact that will actually become a plot factor later on in the movie.

They make it back to the wall and find the gate closed. Initially it doesn't look like Fred is going to let them in for some reason, but, ultimately, Captain Ross and the crew open the gate and usher them through to safety just as Kong arrives and begins pounding on the gate with fury. Getting his first look at Kong from his position on top of the wall, Fred looks like he's seriously reconsidering the whole thing, and scurries down a ladder as Kong tries to reach up and grab him. Once down, he uses a remote detonator to blow up some big tanks of chloroform in the pit they dug earlier, which is concealed by a lot of foliage placed over it. Kong continues banging on the door.

Finally, he manages to break through the remarkably strong door and comes charging through, and then, as Jack, Dwan, Fred, and Ross look on in awe, he steps right on the hidden top of the pit and falls in. Immediately assaulted by the chloroform fumes, Kong passes out and is subdued.

Cut to sometime later, where Kong is being held in the empty tank of a Petrox oil tanker bound for New York. As with the other two movies we're given no indication of precisely how they got Kong onto the ship, but since this is the only one set in the days of helicopters, I'll toss out my own personal theory and say they airlifted him onto the ship with choppers. Anyway, conscious once again, Kong is not happy about his captivity in the least, and roars constantly, making Dwan feel sorry for him. Fred, arriving to bear news about a show that will exhibit Kong in New York, doesn't seem to understand precisely why she's upset, claiming he's just "an animal that tried to rape you." Dwan insists he didn't try to rape her, but Fred persists, the narrowminded little dork. The biggest news Fred brings is that Dwan, who if you'll remember wanted to be an actress, will appearing in the show Petrox is putting on.

Later that night, Jack and Dwan chitchat on deck, and then decide to go below for some nookie. Before they do so however, she loses her scarf and it blows down into the tank where Kong is held. He is woken from his slumber to see it fluttering down towards him (a nice bit) and catches it, knowing it is Dwan's because of her scent. He then proceeds to pitch a huge fit, banging on the walls of his prison and jumping up and down, not only interrupting Jack's efforts to go all the way with Dwan but also threatening to sink the ship!

The captain (a different one) orders the tank flooded to drown Kong before he sinks them. Dwan, arriving at the top of the enclosure, tries to placate the gorilla by assuring him no one will hurt him and that they're both going to be big stars, but this merely gets Kong excited when he sees her, and when he jumps up to try to grab her she loses her balance and falls in. Kong catches her in his palm. This, at least, manages to dissuade the captain from flooding the tank, and Kong sets her down. Much to his sorrow, however, she does not choose to remain with him, and instead climbs up a convenient ladder to rejoin Jack, Fred, and the others who have appeared up top.

It's party time in the Big Apple as fireworks fill the sky and a full-blown parade takes place in the streets. It's all like it's leading up to the premiere of a movie rather than a live performance. Jack comes to see Dwan in her dressing room, and pleads with her to forget about fame and fortune and come away with him. Fred interjects and warns Dwan that if she quits on him now, he'll ruin her career and make sure the only work she'll ever get again is "tapdancing at rotary clubs." Torn between her love for Jack and her desire to be a star, Dwan's career wins out and she turns Jack down. He departs.

Later that night, a sizable crowd has gathered at Shea Stadium, Jack included. I guess he couldn't stay away from Dwan, a possibly unintentional and surprisingly subtle little allegory to Kong's obsession with her. Dwan and Fred arrive by helicopter, and Fred, we see, is wearing a goofy-looking safari outfit with a wide Australian-style hat. Years before Jackson's film, Kong's exhibitors put on a sanitized and showy version of the native ritual from back on the island, with a pair of faux natives seizing Dwan and tying her between two pillars, using fake vines. Kong himself is then trotted out, imprisoned within a gigantic cage shaped like a propane canister and wearing an oversized crown on his head. Fred makes an ass out of himself throughout this by repeatedly going, "Oh, the power! Hail to the power!" etc.

Aside from Dwan suddenly regretting agreeing to do this when she sees the caged Kong, everything is hunky-dory until a mob of reporters charges forwards and surrounds her despite her protests. Kong, seeing this, makes the understandable assumption that she is being harmed and begins trying to break free of his cage. Despite Fred's repeated assurances to the increasingly panicky audience that the cage will hold, it doesn't, and, once free, Kong discards the stupid crown and the whole crowd flees in panic. Jack manages to find Dwan, and together they run to his car.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2006, 01:04:30 PM by Kooshmeister » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2006, 12:27:39 PM »

Fred, for his part, has found himself swept up by the running crowd and is trying to get away from Kong who has appeared to single the oil company sleaze out. Fred falls down and screams as Kong's huge foot comes down over him. Squish. Actually, in the original script Fred Wilson survives. Kong's foot goes over and past him and instead squashes his hat. He then walks off, leaving Wilson lying there looking relieved (although it is implied he'll lose his job, due to another deleted bit where a Petrox bigwig yells at him while they're running away from Kong. As to why Wilson's fate was changed, apparently test audiences hated the character so much they wanted him to die, so they edited the scene in such a way that it appears Kong actually steps on him.

After squishing a few more innocent bystanders under his feet Kong rips apart the stadium walls and escapes into the city. Meanwhile, due to a traffic jam (it seems everyone and their brother got the same idea), Jack and Dwan abandon his car and decide to take an elevated train in order to escape. Bad idea. Somehow Kong ends up well ahead of them and smashes the tracks, causing the train to crash.

He begins ripping it apart, going as far as to pull out one Dwan lookalike and, upon realizing it isn't her, to violently discard her. In a rather gross display of what I believe is called the Hero's Death Battle Exemption, only Jack and Dwan manage to escape through the rear door of the train. Everyone else dies when Kong lifts up the entire thing and hurls it to the street, whereupon it explodes. Jack and Dwan then commandeer a hastilly abandoned motorcycle and then drive across a bridge which, we are told, has been wired with explosives should Kong try to cross.

Once they're safely on the other side, Jack and Dwan stop to rest for a moment and decide to go into a bar that has been evacuated. In a genuinely amusing bit, as they help themselves to some of the beverages, Jack makes sure to leave a note with his credit card, so they "won't be shot as looters." They talk for a bit, and the basic gist of this scene is that Jack realizes that Dwan needs a life of wealth and luxury, a life he can't give her, so it doesn't look like these two are going to be together by the time the credits roll.

Jack then realizes that the nearby twin towers of the World Trade Center look suspiciously like those twin pinnacles back on the island, and he gets it into his head that Kong will head there because it's one of the only things in the city that even vaguely resembles his natural habitat. Unfortutely for them, Kong has decided to cross the river. Although apes can't swim, Kong isn't bothered much, considering the water only comes up to his neck. As he crosses, two important things happen. Number one, he sees the distant World Trade Center and realizes they remind him of home, and so, as Jack predicted, he makes a beeline for 'em. And number two, upon coming ashore, Kong blunders into a power substation, which he destroys, blacking out that entire portion of the city, forcing Jack to go to a payphone down the street to make the all-important phone call to the authorities.

The man Jack gets in touch with is obviously the mayor, but is credited as just "City Official." He's played by John Agar, it should be mentioned. Anyway, Jack offers to tell Mayor Agar where Kong is going, as long as Mayor Agar agrees to have him captured alive and not shot at or anything. Lying through his teeth, Agar agrees, and Jack naively tells him exactly where Kong is headed... which, at the moment, is right where he is, for en route to the Trade Towers, Kong happens by the bar, and sees Dwan. She sees him, too, and all but allows him to pick her up and carry her off. Jack notices this too late, and is forced to cut short his phone call with Mayor Agar so he can run after the big ape.

Kong apparently begins to look for a place where he and Dwan can lay low until this whole thing blows over. After a cute bit where he passes a church and startles a priest coming out the front, he arrives in front of the World Trade Center where, per the mayor's evil plan, the army is waiting. Kong turns and begins climbing one of the two towers. Jack arrives on the scene and uses the elevator of that building to go up. He'll spend most of the rest of the movie in an empty room watching Kong through the window.

Meanwhile, some soldiers armed with flame-throwers use a window washing platform (!) to get up to the roof. This leads to an odd bit where it's hinted that these morons are doing this of their own accord, as the army commander guy expresses complete bewilderment as to why they're up there. The stench of singed ape fur fills the air as the troops try to flame-broil our hero but, with Dwan in tow, he leaps across to the roof of the adjacent tower. The soldiers continue firing at them, until he begins ripping off random parts of the roof and throwing it across at them, finally succeeding in blowing them up.

Now we come to this film's redo of the final sequence in the original: Kong's battle with some aircraft atop the tallest building in the city. Three army helicopters equipped with machine guns approach and begin circling the rooftop. Dwan makes Kong pick her up, since she knows the pilots won't shoot if Kong is holding her, and she is proven right: upon catching sight of her, the lead chopper pilot calls off the attack. But Kong, being Kong, has to pick a fight with these noisy whirlybird things circling his newfound sanctuary, so he sets Dwan down and gently nudges her off to the side and out of harm's way.

The moment Dwan isn't in any immediate danger anymore, the choppers resume their assault, shooting at Kong relentlessly and ripping into him with their bullets. Say what you will about the army in this version of the movie, at least they hold their fire while King's got Dwan. In Jackson's film, they just shoot nonstop like Ann isn't even there, and look surprised when they finally notice her, and then stop firing... only to shoot Kong in the back. Jackson making the military sneaky, careless, and underhanded in his film is a lot worse than them just being triggerhappy in this movie.

This is my least favorite scene in the movie because it's so needlessly violent and bloodily over the top. All throughout it, Dwan is screaming for them to stop and also pleading for Kong to pick her up so they won't shoot him anymore, but it's all to no avail. Kong manages to knock at least two of the helicopters out of the sky and destroy them - which is one more than the original Kong got to smash - but thanks to the magic of continuity errors, there's still three choppers circling overhead at any given time.

Ultimately, Kong is beaten. Bloodied and dying he collapses onto the roof. Dwan approaches him and reaches out to touch him, but then he slides off the roof and falls down to the pavement below. An unknown amount of time later, Dwan has managed to get down to street level and pushes her way through a crowd that has gathered around Kong's body. A few reporters jump up on his chest to snap pictures of his face in a nicely dark but realistic bit. But what's this? Kong is still alive. His heartbeat on the soundtrack informs us that there's still some life in him, and he slowly turns and looks at Dwan as she walks up to him, teary-eyed. Kong's heart slows and finally stops. Dwan is the last thing he sees as he dies.

Jack arrives and begins trying to fight his way through the crowd to Dwan as she gets surrounded by the reporters and Mayor Agar even arrives to have his picture taken with her. We never see her and Jack reunited. The camera pulls back to a wide shot of the crowd and the end credits roll, with Dwan still sobbing and surrounded by the press and the politicians. She got to be a star, but not in the way she wanted, and at the price of Kong's life. A very bleak and depressing ending, moreso than either of the other two versions.

And that's King Kong 1976. I love this movie, campy as it may it be in some spots, where it works it works amazingly well, and Kong is a very sympathetic character, moreso than the mostly mindless monster in the original, and predating Jackson's film. You can draw your own conclusions as to the movie's overall worth, just don't say it somehow insults the original or anything stupid like that, 'cause it just doesn't. Often called one of the worst remakes in the history of cinema, it is, in my opinion, one of the best simply because it isn't a carbon copy of the original and most of the changes it makes are interesting ones if not wholly positive ones.
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2006, 04:56:23 PM »

Believe it or not, this is my favorite incarnation of Kong as well.
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2006, 01:12:48 PM »

I don't think this one works as well as the '33 version, or is as memorable, but first having seen it on its original theatrical release, I don't think it's as bad as most people make it out to be. I do like one thing about this film, unlike the second remake in '05, it tried to do something a little different. Instead, of a straight remake, set in the '30's, like the '05 film, it does try to update it to modern day times, or 1976, to be more exact.
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2006, 05:27:11 AM »

This review is just too long.
No..."too long" is an understatement.

Cut it by more than half dude.

I commend you on your effort...but sometimes there can be too much of a good or bad thing.
In this case, it's too much of everything.

By the way, Kong '76 sucks the big one.   Thumbdown
It wasn't amusing or entertaining at all in my opinion.

Just a bit of friendly criticism.
(don't take it too personally)

« Last Edit: December 31, 2006, 05:37:43 AM by Ashthecat » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2006, 07:16:01 AM »

I,too,was a little more than dissapointed at this movie.In ads they raved about the use of a giant robot used in the picture...and it appears in the film for a breif moment as embaressingly phoney! The dialouge stunk ("Get your hands off me you male chauvenist ape!") and the only creature to battle Kong was lousy too! A SNAKE? PLEASE!!! NO DINOSAUERS??? Whatta waste.Rick Baker in a monkey suit...jeeze...even the Japenese Kong movies(though cheezy) gave us cool monsters for kong to fight! I can sum it up by using the final words spoken in the film-"Jack!Jack!Jack!" As in jack.Moolah.A million dollar RIP-OFF! Jack s**t.
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2006, 01:17:02 PM »

This review is just too long.
No..."too long" is an understatement.

Cut it by more than half dude.

Obviously you don't go to the Agony Booth or Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension. This review is short compared to most of theirs. And heck, this one is even short for me. I suck at doing truncated plot summaries anyway. If you don't like lengthy recaps, don't read them. ;)

I,too,was a little more than dissapointed at this movie.In ads they raved about the use of a giant robot used in the picture...and it appears in the film for a breif moment as embaressingly phoney! The dialouge stunk ("Get your hands off me you male chauvenist ape!") and the only creature to battle Kong was lousy too! A SNAKE? PLEASE!!! NO DINOSAUERS??? Whatta waste.Rick Baker in a monkey suit...jeeze...even the Japenese Kong movies(though cheezy) gave us cool monsters for kong to fight! I can sum it up by using the final words spoken in the film-"Jack!Jack!Jack!" As in jack.Moolah.A million dollar RIP-OFF! Jack s**t.

Why they removed the dinosaurs, no one really knows. One explanation is they felt the dinosaurs were too out of left field even in the original, and felt that if they just had Kong it'd be a little more realistic. Another explanation is that prior to making the film Paramount was involved in a huge legal battle with Universal over which company would get to make the movie, and Universal's version would've included dinosaurs, so since Paramount won the court battle it's possible that they weren't allowed to use the dinosaur angle. Certainly, they didn't reuse any of the human characters from the original, apart from the hero's first name. The third explanation is that the lack of dinosaurs (or a believable giant snake) is due to the aforementioned life-sized Kong robot, which ate up a lot of the movie's budget, forcing them to economize on a lot of the other production elements after they realized too late that they'd wasted half their money on a robot that barely worked. All in all, the lack of dinosaurs is my only major problem with this movie, as I mentioned above.

I think the dialogue, for the most part, is fine. The "Goddamn chauvaniist pig ape" line gets referenced a lot, but it's one of only a handful of such lines from the character of Dwan. Every other character in the movie speaks intelligently for the most part (I'm particularly fond of the "If he's not gonna eat her, why did he take her" discussion between Jack and Carnahan), except where the script intentionally has them say stupid stuff, like with Fred Wilson. As to "Rick Baker in a monkey suit," I'm tired of people picking on the movie for this. The animatronic mask is highly articulated and way better than the Toho Kong by far. Also, the miniature city sets at the end are quite good. Really, if this movie had been made by a Japanese studio and starred Japanese actors, I'm willing to bet nobody would be ragging on it for the reasons they do. It's amazing the way the Godzilla movies get a whole bunch of slack no matter how corny or poorly made they are, while American films (or other countries, such as Britain's Gorgo) utilizing similar techniques are bashed endlessly for the very same "sins" committed by the Japanese ones.

I'm really tired of defending this film and uselessly trying to convince people not to hate it. If you don't like it, don't watch it. If you want a King Kong with dinosaurs, go watch the original, or Peter Jackson's tepid and pretentious remake.
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2006, 01:32:31 PM »

Hey,kudos for your liking the film.I guess somebody has to.:) As for Japanese Kong films,they don't pretend to be anything more than what they are:Live action cartoons.The DeLaurentis Kong was pushed and lauded as some spectacular event,and was a real let down for me,at least.My 5 year old sister,who went with me to see at in the theater way back when loved it.She cried when King Kong got killed.It was nice to see John Agar as the Mayor of NYC! My Ma was in the crowd seen at the end of the movie,surronding the dead Kong.As far as Jackson"s version...I liked it a lot! A little long,but the dinosaur fights are fun.
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2006, 03:09:31 PM »

This review is just too long.
No..."too long" is an understatement.

Cut it by more than half dude.

I commend you on your effort...but sometimes there can be too much of a good or bad thing.
In this case, it's too much of everything.


Evidently, you're not too familiar with the art of recapping.

I remember when I first started the Agony Booth, and one of the places I originally advertised  promoted it was on this very forum. The only feedback I got was that the reviews were "too long". Was that you by any chance, Ashthecat?

Seriously, though, length is pretty much the point. Kooshmeister's recap was roughly 8,000 words long. You don't complain that a novel with 8,000 words is "too long", do you? Because your literary choices would be rather limited, I'd think. You'd have The Cat in the Hat and not much else.

If you can accept that there are short works of narrative fiction (short stories) and longer works (novels), I don't see why it's so hard to accept that there are short and long versions of movie criticism out there.


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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2006, 03:47:09 PM »

Different writing styles for different people.  The reviews that I write, they fit me.  Ken, Albert, and Kooshmeister like to do all of their work in the plot section and cover most of the film.  With the latter, you can start to notice the trends, like certain groups always wearing trenchcoats or that the person in charge of sets liked blinking lights.  Watching the film, you will notice the crazy fishbowl in the background, because Ken told you about it and talked about how strange or out of place it was.

Besides, everyone using the same review style would be a bit tedious.  With the variation of writers, you can get everything from detailed observations to capsules, with lots of ground in between.
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2006, 11:08:38 PM »

This review is just too long.
No..."too long" is an understatement.

Cut it by more than half dude.

I commend you on your effort...but sometimes there can be too much of a good or bad thing.
In this case, it's too much of everything.


Evidently, you're not too familiar with the art of recapping.

I remember when I first started the Agony Booth, and one of the places I originally advertised  promoted it was on this very forum. The only feedback I got was that the reviews were "too long". Was that you by any chance, Ashthecat?

Seriously, though, length is pretty much the point. Kooshmeister's recap was roughly 8,000 words long. You don't complain that a novel with 8,000 words is "too long", do you? Because your literary choices would be rather limited, I'd think. You'd have The Cat in the Hat and not much else.

If you can accept that there are short works of narrative fiction (short stories) and longer works (novels), I don't see why it's so hard to accept that there are short and long versions of movie criticism out there.





First of all Albert, you could have done us the courtesy of registering in order to make your remarks; not that it is in any way required on this board, but it simply robs me of the pleasure of clicking on the boo/hiss in response to your reply.

If I want to spend ninety minutes involved in a movie, it surely would not be in reading about it, as I can watch it in the same amount of time. Though there are different strokes for different folks, I personally don't care for a recap of a movie being called a review. Someone telling me what happened in a movie from beginning to end adds nothing to the experience, and lacks any input on the part of the writer. Despite that, if someone were to truly add something to my enjoyment of a film, then I would want to read it regardless of the length.

You compare a novel in the same vein as a recap though. That is a poor comparison. A novel involves creative content from the writer from word one; a recap involves telling about someone else's creativity.



The only feedback I got was that the reviews were "too long". Was that you by any chance, Ashthecat?


I hope that was a simple question and not an attempt to be condescending toward Ash.
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2006, 11:32:10 PM »

I agree that often times a recap is not the same as a review, though I feel at times there is some input on the part of the writer - especially since the advent of MST3k and the habit some reviewers (such as myself) have of adding snarky comments, brief examinations of plot points and other such things to the recap.

Personally, I love long reviews. I have even tried to think of ways to make mine longer. However, I realize that not everyone likes such overwhelming detail, which is why I try to offer both a brief and lengthy recap of any film I review. Plus, I like to have a dedicated "review" section where I talk about the film outside of any recap section. In fact, I break my reviews down into several sections so potential readers can just skip to any part they want without having to wade through the whole verbose mess.

I suppose in the end, like everything else, it comes down to personal taste.

Now, on the topic of the 76' King Kong: I can vividly recall seeing this in a packed theater as a kid with my dad. Since I was all of seven years of age. I naturally thought the movie was flat out awesome. In years since I have come to realize that the film is lacking in several areas, but since I am who I have always been (channeling Kosh it seems - who gets that reference?) and am a devoted lover of all monsters and cinematic beasties, I still like the 76' version quite a bit.
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2006, 11:55:45 PM »

First of all Albert, you could have done us the courtesy of registering in order to make your remarks; not that it is in any way required on this board, but it simply robs me of the pleasure of clicking on the boo/hiss in response to your reply.
Sorry. I thought I was only popping in here quickly in response to something Kooshmeister had posted on my site's forum. I wasn't thinking I'd be coming back any time soon.

I just wanted to say my post wasn't meant as an attack on anybody. I mean, the odds of Ashthecat being the same person who gave me the same feedback on this site five years ago are pretty slim. So if you keep that in mind, you'll probably see the lighthearted intent behind my statement.

I had more to say, but I don't want to derail the thread any more than I already have, so I'll just leave it at that.


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