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King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson Paperback – November 1, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

Script magazine columnist Morton, who views King Kong as "an enduring cultural icon," was captivated at age eight by the giant gorilla, and his "Kong-mania went into overdrive" with the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis version. In an effort to survey all feature films in which Kong appears, Morton interviewed surviving cast and crew members, visited archives and trekked to film locations, documenting everything from ape suits, budget woes and optical effects to "Kongs That Never Were." The lengthy opening chapter recaps the making of the 1933 film in exhaustive detail, illustrated with dramatic conceptual art and test shots; an equal amount of space is given to the 1976 remake. Shorter chapters review "The Son of Kong," "King Kong vs. Godzilla," "King Kong Escapes" and "King Kong Lives." Peter Jackson's forthcoming version gets only 14 pages, but fans dazzled by this book's 100 color and b&w illustrations (storyboards, stills, production art, collectibles) and comprehensive coverage of past Kongs won't complain. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Ray Morton has worked in Hollywood for the past fifteen years as a writer, script consultant, and story analyst.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557836698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557836694
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are a lot of books about King Kong out there at the moment, but what made me choose Mr. Morton's book is the large section he devotes to the 1976 King Kong produced by Dino De Laurentiis. This was the pre-Star Wars movie sensation of my childhood and I loved reading the behind the scenes story of its making, as well as getting another peek at some Kong '76 merchandise (hey, I had those cups!). The author also appears to share my opinion that this film gets an unfair bad rap. Nice to see him set the record straight re reviews and box office.

Above Kong '76, it just great to have a book devoted to ALL the King Kong films. Sure, we all love the original film and Mr. Morton does a spectacular job covering it, but I equally enjoyed reading about Son of Kong, King Kong vs. Godzilla, King Kong Lives, etc. And a full chapter devoted Kong collectibles and the Kong movies that were never made...you gotta love that.

If you're a Kong lover, or just want one good Kong movie book on your shelf, Ray Morton's KING KONG, THE HISTORY OF A MOVIE ICON is the book to get.
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Format: Paperback
With any big budget, highly promoted film such as King Kong, there is going to be a flood of merchandising. Already, weeks before the film's release we saw all sorts of toys, video games and more. And of course there are always a lot of books. King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson is simply the best book ever written on the history of this cinematic giant. Author Ray Morton covers the entire history of King Kong, from the 1933 classic to the 2005 remake by Peter Jackson and everything in between in meticulously researched detail. And yes, Japanese film fans, that includes the 1960's King Kong Vs. Godzilla as well as King Kong Escapes.

Morton begins the book by providing brief biographies on Producer/Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack, and sop-motion effects guru Willis O' Brien. Cooper was a true to life Indiana Jones who sought adventure around the world. A pilot, Cooper flew dozens of successful missions during WWI he was shot down and badly burned and captured by the Germans. After the war Cooper could volunteer with several other American pilots to assist Poland in their fight for freedom against the Bolsheviks, again flying numerous successful strafing missions as a squadron leader before again getting shot down and captured and sent to a prison work farm in Moscow. Cooper would later escape along with two Polish prisoners and would earn Poland's medal of bravery, their highest honor. Returning to the states and becoming a filmmaker, Cooper traveled to exotic locales around the world to shoot silent docu-dramas, all the while building ideas for Kong.
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Just as everybody's said, it's simply excellent. While the superb "Spawn of Skull Island" provides more detail on the making of the original, this book is the only one out there that covers all of the Kong films, including sequels and spinoffs. A large and fascinating chapter is devoted to the undervalued "Son of Kong", and another to "vs. Godzilla" and "Escapes". There's a making-of book out there on the 1976 "Kong", but it was written by the unit publicist and as such, while an interesting document and a unique perspective on the whole behind-the-scenes process, is much less technical and more a series of anecdotes. This book's chapter on that film goes into detail on the costumes, masks, and effects techniques used, and the following chapter is the only place you'll find anything at all on "King Kong Lives". Chapters on video releases and merchandising are also welcome.
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In 1976, I was 8 years old and was caught up in the hype for the remake of King Kong. Having seen the original 1933 version on TV, I was really psyched for the new version which, according to the hype, featured a 40-foot replica of Kong that would be ultra-realistic. The reality turned out a little differently, but I still really enjoyed the movie. I even wrote a letter to Jessica Lange, the female star of the film who obviously went on to greater roles, and received an autographed picture (which I wish I still had).

With the upcoming Peter Jackson movie, Kongmania has struck me again and I ordered this book along with the collector's edition of the 1933 film.

The book is chock full of pictures, many of which I'd never seen before, and fully detailed accounts of the making of the 1933 and 1976 Kongs, as well as the ill-conceived (but still likeable) Japanese Kong movies and Dino DeLaurentiis' King Kong Lives.

Definitely written with care about the subject at hand and not a quickie cash-in on the current interest in King Kong, this book is a must for anyone who's interested in Kong, moviemaking and action/fantasy films. I give it my highest recommendation.
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Good, thorough look at the various KONG movies including the iconic '33 film. As usual, the Japanese films (KING KONG vs. GODZILLA and KING KONG ESCAPES) get short shrifted (KING KONG ESCAPES is one of my favorites), but that's pretty much par for the course with most western reviewers. Contains a lot of fascinating info on the '76 version in particular, and excellent selection of stills throughout (many behind-the-scenes shots from KONG '76 I'd never seen, and even an incredible one from the '33 that's new to me). Overall, a very welcome release and, especially at Amazon's price, a must for all Kongaphiles.
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