- Series: Smart Pop series (Book 1)
- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Smart Pop (October 11, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1932100644
- ISBN-13: 978-1932100648
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,828,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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King Kong Is Back!: An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape (Smart Pop series) Paperback – October 11, 2005
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This reader about the classic monster movie King Kong (1933) seems a bit rushed, trying to come out before Peter Jackson's new King Kong premieres in December. Five essays in it weren't ready for advance review. The 14 that were, however, range from informative to wiseass; all entertain. Bob Eggleton's "The Making of King Kong," on filmmakers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (see also Mark Cotta Vaz's Cooper biography, Living Dangerously, 2005), and James Gunn's "King Kong and 1930s Science Fiction" both inform, pretty soberly. Adam-Troy Castro's smarty-pants "Ann, Abandoned," exploring what might have been had Fay Wray's character been left with Kong on Skull Island, has its giddy "ewww!" moments (don't miss it). Intelligent nostalgia pervades two memoirs of New York TV channel WOR's many airings of the original film, while Robert Hood's "Divided Kingdom: King Kong versus Godzilla" rewards cultural ponderers, and Adam Roberts' "Why Does My Daughter Love King Kong So Much?" gratifies armchair psychologists. If not something for everyone, darn close. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Nick Mamatas and Paul Levinson share similar memories on growing up in New York in the 1970's when the running of King Kong on WOR was as much a tradition on Thanksgiving Day as the Macy's parade or Detroit Lions football. Don DeBrandt's piece tries to make the argument that the 1976 remake is actually better written and acted than the original, almost dismissing it as an airy fantasy. He makes the point that the remake was more socially conscious and more complex, pointing out that the search for Skull Island wasn't about making a film but rather finding oil. That may be, but people don't go to see Kong for social relevance, they go to be entertained.
Rick Klaw's essay "Thirty Three" delves in the colorful history of the two men who brought King Kong to the screen, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. These two have a backround that you'd think had to be written by Hollywood. Both served during WWII and both aided Poland in their fight for independence with Russia. Cooper was a pilot for the Polish Air Force and was made a squadron commander in 1920. He was shot down and captured by the Russians and held in a prison camp until he escaped along with two Polish prisoners and traversed 500 miles to freedom into Lativa. A remarkable history.
Another great essay is from Bob Eggleton who discusses the making of the 1933 film, focusing on stop-motion animation whiz Willis O' Brien, and a man whose name has been nearly lost to the sands of time, Marcel Delgado, who actually made the various Kong models used in the animation process, not to mention the various dinosaurs and other beasties.
Robert A. Metzger's "Dragons Teeth and Hobbits" supposes a true history to Skull Island, King Kong, dinosaurs, and a long lost forgotten race of little people thousands of years old. Metzger hypothesizes about not only Kong's origin, but the origin of the great wall. Seeing as how Kong easily climbed the Empire State Building, this wall would have posed little problem to him...so just who built it and why? Fascinating stuff!
Some of the essays are a little on the dry side but all in all its wonderfully done and a great book for any King Kong fan.
Reviewed by Tim Janson
The opening essays feature fond memories of the 1933 film version of King Kong from its 1976 to 1985 tenure as a Thanksgiving-day-staple on New York local television, and of reactions to the 1976 re-make. Writers compare the thematic elements of the 1930's and 1970's version, exploring the relationship audiences had with each release, in the days before the VCR.
In his essay on The Making of King Kong, artist Bob Eggleton takes the reader behind the scenes in animation technology throughout the last century, explaining why the 1933 animation feels so much better when compared to the 1976 version, and applauding Jackson's wisdom for making his 2005 film a period piece set back in the Depression. Psychobiologist Dario Maestripieri, on the other hand, teaches the audience about gorilla and primate biology, and explains the truth about gorilla mating, aggression, and general behavior. The exploration of King Kong might be stretched a little far in Joseph D. Miller's argument that Skull Island can be mapped to the region on Sigmund Freud's Triune Brain, but it is a theory to entertain. Robert A. Metzger even argues that King Kong was real, and lists geographical and plot clues that Merian C. Cooper actually had a King Kong-like experience on which the film is based.
The final essays probe the thematic and cultural implications of the Big Ape story, including the parallels between Kong and the experience of enslaved Africans brought America. As a story that has been told in three times in American history, King Kong, and his theatrical success at the time of each release, can be used as barometer for American social and political culture. While there are certainly highs and lows in this collection, overall, it is a landmark piece about all aspects of this American phenomenon. Detailed writer biographies follow each entry, so be prepared to be introduced to some new writing talent and other works to follow up with.