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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

King Kong Premiered 75 Years Ago Today

King Kong, the grand daddy of all wild ape films, directed by Merian C. Cooper and starring Fay Wray, premiered at the Radio City Music Hall and RKO Roxy in New York City 75 years ago today. The story may be very simple by today's standards, but it was high concept for the 1930s, and depression era audiences ate it up with a fierce appetite.

The set up is that film producer, Carl Denham needs to finish his movie. He has the perfect location; Skull Island, but he still needs to find a leading lady. The soon-to-be-unfortunate' soul is Ann Darrow (Fay Wray). Once set with his cast, Denham takes the entire cast and crew to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot. No one knows what they will encounter on this island, nor why it is so mysterious, but once they reach it, they soon find out. On this hidden island is a giant gorilla (I mean tremendously big) who takes a shine to the female blonde star. The beast is then lured into capture because of this attraction, and brought back to New York City for public exhibition. Of course, along the way there are some curious incidents and harrowing beasts. But, ultimately the great ape is presented to high society in a high class night club, and well, tragedy ensues.

No one had ever presented such a story. Nor had they even conceived of such a concept. So, when King Kong appeared upon the silver screen audiences were presented with an entirely new concept in entertainment. Why it wasn't nominated for Best Picture of the year is a crime, and can only be chalked up to prejudice against so-called "silly concept" films. The winner of the year was a melodramatic chronicle of an English family called Cavalcade. It is forgotten for the most part by today's "filmologists" and classic cinema fans. However, King Kong is still remembered and will be for generations to come.

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