King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
|King Kong Films|
King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ?, lit. King Kong Against Godzilla) is a Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira1962 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the third installment in the Godzilla series as well as the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on August 11, 1962, and to American theaters on June 26th, 1963. It was released as part of Toho's 30th anniversary.
The Bering Sea's currents are mysteriously rising in temperature, causing the area's sea ice to melt and break up. The United Nations sends a scientific team to investigate the cause of the phenomenon. The investigation is covered by the Wonderful World Series, a Japanese documentary program, sponsored by Pacific Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Tako, the advertising department director of Pacific Pharmaceuticals, is frustrated with the television program his company is sponsoring and wants something to boost his ratings. When company botanist Doctor Makioka tells Tako about a giant monster he discovered on the small Farou Island, Tako believes that it would be a brilliant idea "...with a punch" to use the monster to gain publicity. Tako immediately sends two men, Osamu Sakurai and Kinsaburo Furue, to find and bring back the monster from Farou.
Meanwhile, the United Nations submarine Seahawk gets caught in the same iceberg that Godzilla was trapped in by the JSDF seven years earlier in 1955. As an American rescue helicopter circles the iceberg, Godzilla breaks out and heads towards a nearby JSDF base in Hokkaido. The base's forces, of course, are ineffective against Godzilla. Godzilla's appearance is all over the press and makes Tako angry. As Tako is complaining about Godzilla's media hype to his employees, one of them exclaims "And... there's a movie too!"
Meanwhile on Farou Island, a Giant Octopus attacks the local village. The island's giant god, King Kong, finally makes his appearance and defeats the monster. Kong then drinks some red berry juice and falls asleep in the midst of a celebratory dance by the natives. Sakurai and Furue place Kong on a large raft and begin to transport him back to Japan. Back at Pacific Pharmaceuticals, Tako is excited because Kong is now all over the press instead of Godzilla. As Tako is out of the room, one of the employees ask which is stronger between King Kong and Godzilla. Another employee responds "Stupid, it's not a wrestling match!" Tako walks back in the room and exclaims "Fantastic! There's an idea!"
Mr. Tako arrives on the ship transporting Kong, but unfortunately, the JMSDF also arrive, and order Tako's ship to return to Faro, before boarding the ship to inspect it. During a small scuffle over a detonator, Tako accidentally presses the lever down himself, which fails to blow up the raft, but Kong soon begins to awaken. Sakurai and Furue fire their rifles at the dynamite on the raft, successfully blowing it up. However, Kong survives the explosion and rises from the sea, then travels to Japan alone. As Kong meets up with Godzilla in a valley, Tako, Sakurai, and Furue have difficulty avoiding the JSDF to watch the fight. Eventually they find a spot. Kong throws some large rocks at Godzilla, but Godzilla shoots his atomic ray at Kong, so King Kong retreats.
The JSDF constantly try and stop both Kong and Godzilla but are mostly ineffective. They set up some power lines around Tokyo filled with a million volts of electricity (compared to the 300,000 volts used against the original Godzilla in 1954. The electricity is too much for Godzilla and drives him away, but it seems to make King Kong stronger. Kong enters Tokyo and kidnaps Sakurai's sister Fumiko, then climbs to the top of the National Diet Building with her in his hand. The JSDF explode capsules full of the berry juice from Farou Island and successfully render Kong unconscious. Tako approved of this plan because he "...didn't want anything bad to happen to Kong." The JSDF then decide to transport Kong via balloons to Mount Fuji, where Godzilla currently us, in hope that they will fight each other to their deaths.
The next morning, Kong is dropped onto Mount Fuji near Godzilla and the two begin to fight. Godzilla eventually knocks Kong unconscious but then a thunderstorm arrives and revives King Kong, giving him the power of an electric grasp. The two clash once again, with Kong shoving a tree in Godzilla's mouth before Godzilla burns the tree with his atomic breath. The two monsters continue fighting, tearing down Atami Castle in the process, and eventually plunge into the sea, causing a small earthquake. After an underwater battle, only King Kong resurfaces and begins to slowly swim back home to Farou. As Kong swims home onlookers aren't sure if Godzilla survived the underwater fight, but speculate that it was possible.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Shinichi Sekizawa, Willis O'Brien, George Worthing Yates
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, John Beck
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Stock Music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Reiko Kaneko
- Production Design by Teruaki Abe, Takeo Kita
- Assistant Directing by Koji Kawakita
- Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
- Assistant Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Tadao Takashima as Osamu Sakurai
- Kenji Sahara as Kazuo Fujita
- Yu Fujiki as Kinsaburo Furue
- Ichiro Arishima as Mr. Tako
- Mie Hama as Fumiko Sakurai
- Jun Tazaki as General Masami Shinzo
- Akiko Wakabayashi as Tamiye
- Akihiko Hirata as Prof. Shigesawa
- Somesho Matsumoto as Prof. Onuki
- Akemi Negishi as Faro Island Native Chikiro's Mother
- Senkichi Omura as TTV Translator Konno
- Sachio Sakai as Mr. Tako's Assistant Obayashi
- Haruya Kato as Obayashi's Assistant
- Nadao Kirino as General's Aide
- Yoshio Kosugi as Faro Island Chief
- Shin Otomo as Ship Captain
- Yoshifumi Tajima as Fujita's Ship's Captain
- Kenzo Tabu as Wonderful World Series Presenter
- Harold Conway as Scientist on Submarine
Weapons, Vehicles, and Races
- Main article: King Kong vs. Godzilla/Gallery.
- Main article: King Kong vs. Godzilla (Soundtrack).
- The Return of King Kong (Die Rückkehr des King Kong; Germany)
- The Triumph of King Kong (Il trionfo di King Kong; Italy)
View all posters for the film here.
- Japan - August 11, 1962 [view poster]; July 25, 1964 (Re-Release) [view poster]; March 21, 1970 (Second Re-Release) [view poster]; March 19, 1977 (Third Re-Release) [view poster]; July 14, 2016 (4K Digital Restoration) [view poster]
- United States - June 26th, 1963 [view poster]
- England - 1962
- Mexico - 1962 [view poster]
- Germany - 1974 [view poster]
- France - 1976 [view poster]
- Belgium - 1976 [view poster]
- Italy - 1976 [view poster]
- Spain - 1978 [view poster]
An English version of King Kong vs. Godzilla was prepared by producer John Beck, who felt that Toho's version of the film wouldn't play well to American audiences. He hired writers Bruce Howard and Paul Mason to "Americanize" the film. Peter Zinner was brought in as an editor for Beck's version. Among the alterations made for the North American theatrical release are:
- Dialogue was dubbed at Ryder Sound Services, Inc. in Hollywood. The new dialogue often strayed heavily from the Japanese script. Howard and Mason's script is still comedic at times but eliminates most of the humor in Sekizawa's original screenplay.
- Akira Ifukube's musical score was largely replaced by library music, most notably from The Golden Horde, Creature from the Black Lagoon and other Universal films. Ifukube's Farou Island native chant and an exotic jungle cue are the only tracks carried over from the original soundtrack.
- Deleted: a farewell party for Sakurai and Farue.
- Deleted: a scene where Sakurai plays drums while recording a commercial. Later, Farue tells him he is to go to Farou Island.
- Deleted: Most of the comic moments.
- Deleted : Newspapers showing Godzilla's attacks.
- The scene where King Kong and Godzilla first meet is in a different time spot.
- The climatic earthquake is much more powerful in the U.S version, utilizing stock footage from the film The Mysterians in order to make the earthquake much more violent than the tame tremor seen in the Japanese version. This footage contains the ground splitting open and massive tidal waves which flood nearby valleys.
- The most notable alteration in this version is the addition of new scenes featuring United Nations reporter Eric Carter, played by Michael Keith, paleontologist Dr. Arnold Johnson, played by Harry Holcombe, and Japanese correspondent Yataka Omura, played by James Yagi, in a series of pseudo-news broadcasts. These scenes make changes to the monsters' origins and characteristics, such as suggesting that Kong grew to his gigantic size by eating the berries native to Farou Island (referred to as "Soma" in this version) and that Godzilla has been imprisoned inside the iceberg since the Mesozoic era, ignoring the events of Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again. Stock footage of the Mysterian Space Station from The Mysterians is added into these scenes to substitute as a United Nations satellite. These segments were directed by Thomas Montgomery.
- The American version runs 91 minutes, seven minutes shorter than the Japanese version, which runs for 96 minutes. This is with the addition of several minutes of new footage in the American release.
- Contrary to popular belief, the outcome of the final battle between Kong and Godzilla is not changed in the U.S. version; Kong is the monster that triumphs in the end of both versions of the film. While in the Japanese version the characters propose it is possible that Godzilla survived the battle, in the U.S. version they merely state they hope they've seen the last of Godzilla. Godzilla's roar is also not heard over the ending, while it was present in the Japanese version along with Kong's.
After completing production of the U.S. version, Beck sold his rights to the film to Universal International, which distributed the film in the United States and later in most of the rest of the world starting in June of 1963. To this day, Universal owns exclusive rights to the film in North America.
King Kong vs. Godzilla was released on theaters four different times in different years in Japan. The first theatrical release had an attendance of 11,200,000, the third release had an attendance 870,000, and the fourth release had an attendance of 480,000, adding up to a rough 12,550,000 attendance, the most attended Godzilla film of all time.
The U.S. version of King Kong vs. Godzilla had a $12,000 budget.
King Kong vs. Godzilla is very popular among kaiju fans and hailed as a classic. Its plot, acting, special effects, and musical aspects are often regarded as some of the finest in the Showa series of Godzilla films.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases
Goodtimes DVD (1998)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
- Special Features: Production notes
- Notes: Cropped 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Out of print.
Toho DVD (2001)
- Region: 2
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono)
Universal DVD/Blu-Ray (2005/2014)
- Region: 1 (DVD) or A/1 and B/2 (Blu-Ray)
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
- Special Features: None
- Notes: French and Spanish subtitles are included.
- Although fans of both Kong and Godzilla argue to this day, Toho has declared that King Kong was meant to win. Not only was King Kong the star and hero of the film, but Kong was much more popular than Godzilla at this time, and was the obvious choice to win audiences over. Toho confirmed Kong's victory in the press materials that they released when the film came out in 1962 that clearly says "A spectacular duel is arranged on the summit of Mt. Fuji, and King Kong is victorious."
- A long-standing urban legend claims that the Japanese version of this film has an alternate ending in which Godzilla wins, but this was a misconception. However, many people continue to believe this rumor despite the fact that Toho themselves have confirmed it is false.
- In Japan, this film has the highest box office attendance figures of all of the Godzilla series to date.
- Not only was this the first Godzilla or King Kong film shot in the anamorphic "Scope" ratio (2.35:1), but was also their first appearances in color.
- King Kong's original creator, Willis O'Brien, had created a treatment in the 60's called King Kong vs. Frankenstein. O'Brien planned on using stop motion animation, like he had in the original King Kong, to bring the monsters to life. O'Brien sparked the interest of producer John Beck with some concept art and several screenplay treatments to make the film. However, the cost of stop animation prevented the film from being put into production. Beck took O' Brien's main idea to Toho, who was planning to make Godzilla return to the big screen after his seven year absence since Godzilla Raids Again. Toho also wanted a big movie to celebrate their thirtieth year in production. The O'Brien treatment was changed to feature Godzilla to battle King Kong instead of Frankenstein's monster.
- In 1991, the film was to be "remade" as Godzilla vs. King Kong as part of the Heisei series. Turner Entertainment, who claimed to be the owners of the original film, asked too much money for Kong's use, which made Toho attempt Godzilla vs. Mechani-Kong, but Turner tried to sue Toho for "Mechani-Kong being too similar to Kong." In the end, the film was scrapped and replaced with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. However, on October 14, 2015, the idea of a "remake" was brought back by Legendary Pictures, and is currently planned to be made under the name Godzilla vs. Kong.
- Ishiro Honda had toyed with the idea of using Willis O'Brien's stop motion technique instead of the suitmation process used in his films, though budgetary concerns prevented him from using the process. However, there are a couple of brief scenes where Honda makes use of stop motion photography. The first use of it is in the scene where the Giant Octopus grabs one of the natives and swings him around. Another is the scene during Kong's fight with Godzilla, where it is used when Godzilla hits Kong with a jump-kick.
- There were four live octopuses used in the scene where it fights the natives. They were forced to move by blowing hot air on them. After the filming of that scene was finished, three of the four were released. The fourth became special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya's dinner.
- The dream project of Eiji Tsuburaya involved a giant octopus, and early designs for Godzilla himself in 1954 depicted him as a giant octopus. Although Tsuburaya's octopus design was rejected, it is likely that the giant octopus scene in this film is the fulfillment of his dream (Tsuburaya would later shoot giant octopus scenes for two other films, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, although this scene was cut, and War of the Gargantuas).
- In the American version of the film, it's suggested that Godzilla has been imprisoned in the iceberg since the Mesozoic era. The presence of Godzilla in Godzilla Raids Again is ignored, essentially creating a break in the Showa continuity which is not present in the Japanese version.
- This film marks the debut of Godzilla's famous theme by Akira Ifukube, although it was completely removed in the American version.
- King Kong vs. Godzilla was re-released at the Spring Toho Champion Film Festival on March 21, 1970 alongside the animated films Star of the Giants: Major League Ball, Attack No. 1 and The Kindly Lion.
- Comprehensive list of differences between the Japanese and American versions of the film
- German theatrical credits
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