KING KONG FOUR DISC
For years, dvd classic film fans have been enthusiastically gobbling up Warner Home Video's generous output of Golden Age Classics with reckless abandon but there was always a feeling of despondency coupled with an empty feeling that something BIG was missing. It was. But no longer. Kong has indeed arrived and thanks to Warner's painstaking and time-consuming persistence, the old boy hasn't looked as good since the day he first appeared.
Somehow every single one of the elements that made Kong such a sensation in depression-weary 1933 seem to have survived the decades intact. Truly nothing like it had been seen before (or since). As far as our hairy friend is concerned one can easily say, "There's so much to love." And not hurting matters one bit is the fact that Warner's has indeed delivered the most sensational film of the Thirties in stunning fashion. The awesome production design, special effects and great Max Steiner score can be fully appreciated for the first time in seventy-three years. The full-screen black-and-white image is so intense and crisp-looking, that as many times as you've seen it you'll discover sights and sounds that you've never experienced before. And the distortion-free monaural sound has a thump and power to it that never ceases to amaze.
As resistant as we've always been to commenting on dvd special features, what has been included here is so ingenious and spectacular that we can't possibly ignore them ----- who would want to? The documentary on legendary Kong creator Merian C. Cooper is so smartly put together and spiffily designed that it manages to proclaim itself as the ultimate companion piece to the feature. But what really takes the cake is the seven-part Peter Jackson documentary on the making of Kong, which includes a blow-by-blow account of the Jackson clan meticulously recreating the entire "lost spider pit " sequence. (Their ultimate efforts are so true to the original that I almost wish Warner had included this new sequence as a branching option for the feature.) Make no mistake about it ---- Warner's has come up with the finest and most inventive dvd special features for a classic film yet devised.
Viewing THE SON OF KONG (1933) is especially essential for anyone interested in how not to produce a sequel. Clearly this is a rush job carelessly and cynically churned out to quickly cash in on the original. The romance, pathos and continual sense of danger that so powerfully contributed to the massive success of the original is sadly lacking here, and it comes as no surprise that box-office receipts were so paltry that it would be sixteen years before something like it was again attempted.
The result was MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), and if this would have been the follow-up to the original KING KONG, one can safely assume the period from 1933 to 1949 would have been peppered with KONG-like epics. It's evident from the very first scene in this charming and hypnotically watchable film that cautionary lessons had been learned from the SON OF KONG debacle. Clearly great care, time and expense had been lavished on this touching tale about a young girl and her pet gorilla and it must be admitted that a nightclub destruction sequence with the gorilla and some caged lions exceeds anything attempted in the original KONG as considerable advances in stop-motion animation are visibly evident throughout.
The full-screen black-and-white transfer of SON OF KONG is better than average and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG looks very good indeed. The monaural sound is fairly good on SON and crisp and clean on YOUNG.
--DICK DINMAN D