King Kong

King Kong ★★★★★

TCMFF Day 2, Film 3: King Kong

My approach to TCM Film Fest is always see the films you have not seen or the favorites you want to see again. But rules are meant to be broken especially when it's the opportunity to see King Kong at the TCL Chinese Theatre where it opened 90 years ago. Plus it is one of my dad's and mine favorite films.

My dad introduced me to King Kong. He loved Kong and he loved Carl Denim, the character played by Robert Armstrong. But he also made me see the story not as a fantasy adventure but as a tragic romance. This is one film that always makes me cry.

I only recently realized that my dislike for Fay Wray actually stems from the fact that I hated that her character for not saving Kong. From the perspective of a little kid who loved Kong, I thought she should have clung to him to prevent the planes from shooting him. I blamed her for Kong's death not on a metaphorical level but on a pragmatic one.

I still blame her but not I have come to appreciate Fay Wray as an actress.

The glorious restoration screened at the fest was the most complete version available and it looked amazing. It also had the overture that played over the closed curtains. That was a wonderful addition.

And the story really holds up as action-packed. And Willis O'Brien's stop motion animation of Kong and then one creature after another fighting with him is just breathtaking and filled with such vivid detail. Each creature has a distinct personality. Kong, obviously, has the most. I love how he boxes the t-rex and wiggles its head to check if it is dead. I love how he pulls back and licks his fingers each time Jack stabs him with a knife (a pin prick), and how heartbreakingly emotive his death is. And how brutal O'Brien lets him be when he is rampaging through the village and though NYC. But then the stego gets what looks like a teardrop when he dies and a last flick of his tail. So much meticulous and thoughtful detail.

Plus great Max Steiner score. A perfect film and a perfect venue. I had an empty seat next to me and just imagined my dad was there with me sharing this film one more time.

I can't think of a better way to start the day.

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