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King Kong Is Back!: An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape (Smart Pop series) Paperback – October 11, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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


"There is a boom of new Kong books...My favorite...is [this] savvy collection of essays by fantasy authors."  —The Boston Globe

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Product Details

  • Series: Smart Pop series
  • 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,227,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Tim Janson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Well 2005 was truly the year of King Kong with Peter Jackson's wonderful remake of the classic 1933 epic. In King Kong is Back, part of Benbella Books' Smart Pop series, a score of luminaries share their thoughts on Kong in a wildly diverse array of essays spanning from the 1933 original, right up to Jackson's remake, and everything in between, including the Japanese Kong films. While perhaps a bit uneven in their tone and scope, these essays are at worst passionate and at best, often brilliantly considered.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Editor David Brin released an essay collection about One Humongous Ape (King Kong) immediately prior to the theatrical re-make of this classic by director Peter Jackson. As a hardened skeptic, I viewed the book as a promotional stunt--but I couldn't have been more mistaken. This is an academic and enjoyable collection of essays on topics ranging from personal experiences with the King Kong films, the science and art of the Kong movies, and the philosophy of King Kong.

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.
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