I don't imagine there is any way I could get an accurate count of the number of times I have watched "King Kong." I reference the 1933 version here, but I will admit that one of the best ways to sucker me onto the couch for an hour or two is to suggest either in title or by comparison any sort of "Kong-nection." One of the reasons I retain a solid memory of the film "The Stunt Man" is the offhand reference to just how tall King Kong really was. I know that I have seen the Jessica Lange/Jeff Bridges version enough times to be embarrassed by the number. For the record, I didn't cry when Jaws died, but I didn't shed a tear for Dino De Laurentis' Kong, though I maintained a fascination with Rick Baker's ape suit. Peter Jackson's version ran nearly twice as long as the original, but as fascinating as all those computer generated beasties were, it was a remake.
Nearly fifty years after the first time I sat at the foot of my parents' be and watched that RKO gem, I continue to be drawn to it. Twenty-plus years after my wife and I placed Kong and Ann at the top of our wedding cake, I watch it with an eye for every detail that I've read about or noticed in those countless viewings. I have even slowed things down, frame by frame, to watch the ripples in the great ape's fur created by the tiny manipulations by his animators. As a side note, I consider myself lucky to have "King Kong" as a favorite film. At one hundred minutes, I can watch it a couple of times and still have time to catch a little of the making-of documentaries before my mother can take in just one showing of her beloved "Gone With The Wind."
It happened again this past Saturday morning. Carl Denham got Captain Englehorn to steer The Venture into the mists near Skull Island. If it had just been the guys taking the trip, there might not have been any need for trouble. Carl and his men could have gone ashore and made another one of those amusing little films about monkeys and lions. But instead of following the wisdom of Mark Trail, who left only footprints and took only photos, he gassed that forty-foot gorilla, strapped him to a raft and dragged him back to civilization. All for a girl.
It's a love story. It's a story for the ages. If it's on again tomorrow, you'll know where I'll be.