Captured on Blu-ray at last comes "the greatest of all horror films" with "masterly special effects" (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic). Memorable moments abound: a moviemaking expedition on a fantastic isle filled with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures; the giant simian's lovestruck obsession with the film shoot's blonde starlet (scream queen Fay Wray); Kong's capture; his Manhattan rampage; and the fateful finale atop the Empire State Building, where Kong cradles his palm-sized beloved and swats at machine-gunning airplanes. "It was beauty killed the beast." But in these and other great scenes, King Kong lives forever.
"Now you see it. You're amazed. You can't believe it. Your eyes open wider. It's horrible, but you can't look away. There's no chance for you. No escape. You're helpless, helpless. There's just one chance, if you can scream. Throw your arms across your eyes and scream, scream for your life!" And scream Fay Wray does most famously in this monster classic, one of the greatest adventure films of all time, which even in an era of computer-generated wizardry remains a marvel of stop-motion animation. Robert Armstrong stars as famed adventurer Carl Denham, who is leading a "crazy voyage" to a mysterious, uncharted island to photograph "something monstrous ... neither beast nor man." Also aboard is waif Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and Bruce Cabot as big lug John Driscoll, the ship's first mate. King Kong
's first half-hour is steady going, with engagingly corny dialogue ("Some big, hard-boiled egg gets a look at a pretty face and bang, he cracks up and goes sappy") and ominous portent that sets the stage for the horror to come. Once our heroes reach Skull Island, the movie comes to roaring, chest-thumping, T. rex-slamming, snake-throttling, pterodactyl-tearing, native-stomping life. King Kong
was ranked by the American Film Institute as among the 50 best films of the 20th century. Kong making his last stand atop the Empire State Building is one of the movies' most indelible and iconic images. --Donald Liebenson