King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

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Credits for King Kong vs. Godzilla
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Godzilla Films
Godzilla Raids Again
King Kong vs. Godzilla
Mothra vs. Godzilla
King Kong Films
Son of Kong
King Kong vs. Godzilla
King Kong Escapes
Toho Company, Limited Monster Movie
The Japanese poster for King Kong vs. Godzilla
King Kong vs. Godzilla
See alternate titles
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, John Beck
Written by Shinichi Sekizawa, Willis O'Brien,
George Worthing Yates
Music by Akira Ifukube
Distributor TohoJP
Universal InternationalUS
Rating Not Rated
Budget $12,000US
Box Office ¥350,100,000[1]
Running Time 97 minutesJP
(1 hour, 37 minutes)
91 minutesUS
(1 hour, 31 minutes)
Designs Used KingGoji, ShodaiKongu, ShodaiDako, ShodaiTokage
Rate this film!
3.93
(43 votes)

Who will win? 2 giant monsters attack Japan! (どちらが勝つか?日本中を暴れまわる2大怪獣!) „ 

— Tagline

The great Godzilla, blazing through his Japanese homeland! Roaring defiance, the unconquerable King Kong, giant gorilla god of this South Seas paradise where sensuous maidens offer themselves in ritual sacrifice to his brute embrace! King Kong vs. Godzilla, heading for their colossal collision, shattering every obstacle that stands between them in the most fantastic rampage of annihilation ever recorded on film! See King Kong stamp Tokyo into the ground, holding a beautiful girl in his grips! See Godzilla destroy an entire army! See King Kong zapped by the blazing barriers of a billion volts! But nothing, nobody, can stop the great showdown when King Kong and Godzilla meet the fight for survival of the fittest! „ 

— Trailer for the 1963 U.S. release

King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ,   Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira?, lit. King Kong Against Godzilla) is a 1962 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,[2] and to American theaters on June 26th, 1963. It was released as a part of Toho's 30th anniversary celebration.

Plot

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

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

Cast

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
  • Shoichi Hirose   as   King Kong
  • Haruo Nakajima   as   Godzilla


Appearances

Monsters

Weapons, Vehicles, and Races

Production

One of King Kong's original creators, Willis O'Brien, had created a treatment for a film 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 motion animation prevented the film from being put into production. Beck took O' Brien's main idea to Toho, who was planning to bring Godzilla back 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 have Godzilla battle King Kong instead of Frankenstein's monster.

Eiji Tsuburaya 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 and time 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.

Gallery

Main article: King Kong vs. Godzilla/Gallery.

Soundtrack

Main article: King Kong vs. Godzilla (Soundtrack).

Alternate Titles

  • King Kong Against Godzilla (Literal Japanese title)
  • The Return of King Kong (Die Rückkehr des King Kong; Germany)
  • The Triumph of King Kong (Il trionfo di King Kong; Italy)

Theatrical Releases

View all posters for the film here.

  • Japan - August 11, 1962[2]   [view poster]Japanese 1962 (original release) poster; July 25, 1964 (Re-Release)   [view poster]Japanese 1964 poster; March 21, 1970 (Second Re-Release)   [view poster]Japanese 1970 poster; March 19, 1977 (Third Re-Release)   [view poster]Japanese 1977 poster; July 14, 2016 (4K Digital Restoration)[3]   [view poster]4K Restoration poster
  • United States - June 26th, 1963   [view poster]American poster
  • England - 1962
  • Mexico - 1962   [view poster]Mexican poster
  • Germany - 1974   [view poster]German poster
  • France - 1976   [view poster]French poster
  • Belgium - 1976   [view poster]Belgian poster
  • Italy - 1976   [view poster]Italian poster
  • Spain - 1978   [view poster]Spain poster

U.S. Release

American King Kong vs. Godzilla 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 Shinichi Sekizawa's original screenplay.
  • Akira Ifukube's musical score was largely replaced by music from the Universal and Mutel libraries. The composers of the added music included Hans J. Salter (The Golden Horde, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wichita Town, Against All Flags, Man-Made Monster), Heinz Roemheld (The Monster That Challenged the World), Henry Mancini, Herman Stein (also Creature from the Black Lagoon), Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter (The Deerslayer), and Herschel Burke Gilbert (The City Sleeps).[4] 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. Despite the new footage, the American version runs 91 minutes, six minutes shorter than the Japanese version.

In a 1963 issue of the American fanzine Spaceman, an article on King Kong vs. Godzilla concluded with an erroneous claim that would endure for decades: "2 endings have been filmed & if you see KING KONG VS. GODZILLA in Japan, Hong Kong or some Oriental sector of the world, Godzilla wins! On the other hand, in the USA & England, for instance, Kong wins!"[5] Spaceman's source for this information is unknown, as even Toho's 1963 international sales brochure makes it clear that Kong is the victor in the original version of the film.[6] The actual differences in the endings are minimal. 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 him. Godzilla's roar is also not heard over the end title card, while it is present in the Japanese version after 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. Though the company has issued King Kong vs. Godzilla on DVD and Blu-ray, it is the only Toho Godzilla film released in the U.S. without its original Japanese language track. Universal currently feels that the cost of acquiring the necessary materials from Toho is too high for such a release to be profitable.[7]

Box Office

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 of 870,000, and the fourth release had an attendance of 480,000, adding up to a rough 12,550,000 attendance. It is the most-attended Godzilla film of all time in Japan, with or without the inclusion of the ticket sales from the re-releases. It was Toho's second-highest earner in 1962, and fourth among Japanese films overall.[8]

The U.S. version of King Kong vs. Godzilla had a $12,000 budget.

Reception

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)[9]

  • Region: 1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Special Features: Production notes
  • Notes: Cropped 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Out of print.

Toho DVD (2001)[10]

  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (4.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special Features: Audio commentary by Koji Kajita and Yu Fujiki, isolated score (2.0 and 4.0), 5 trailers, cast profiles, image gallery, footage from a 40th anniversary Godzilla event (4 minutes), audio advertisements

Universal DVD/Blu-Ray (2005/2014)[11]

  • Region: 1 or 2 (DVD) or N/A (Blu-Ray)
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Special Features: None

Toho Blu-ray (2014)

  • Region: A/1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 4.0, LPCM 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special Features: Audio commentary by Koji Kajita and Yu Fujiki, isolated score and sound effects (4.0), Champion Festival edit of the film, 4 trailers, interview with Keizo Murase (20 minutes), footage from a 40th anniversary Godzilla event (4 minutes), Then & Now look at the miniatures and their real-life equivalents (16 minutes), radio spots (3 minutes), publicity material slideshow (3 minutes), publicity brochure (12 images)

Unmade Sequel and Remakes

In the aftermath of the success of King Kong vs. Godzilla, Toho immediately began production on a sequel, simply known by the working title Continuation: King Kong vs. Godzilla. Shinichi Sekizawa even completed a screenplay for the film, but it was ultimately scrapped. Toho would revisit the idea of a giant version of Frankenstein's monster that was featured in Willis O'Brien's original treatment, this time planning to pit the creature against Godzilla in a film called Frankenstein vs. Godzilla, which itself was replaced by the films Mothra vs. Godzilla and Frankenstein vs. Baragon. Toho would later reacquire the rights to King Kong from Rankin/Bass Productions, which resulted in the 1967 film King Kong Escapes, though it was not a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla.

In the early Heisei era, Toho attempted to produce a remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla, under the title Godzilla vs. King Kong, but encountered difficulties when Turner Entertainment, by then the owners of the original King Kong film, prevented Toho from using the character. Toho would attempt to circumvent this by considering several projects pitting Godzilla against Kong's mechanical doppelganger Mechani-Kong, but none of them materialized. In 2015, the American studio Legendary Pictures announced production of a new film for 2020 pitting Kong against Godzilla, under the title Godzilla vs. Kong, as part of its MonsterVerse series of films.

Videos

Trailers

King Kong vs. Godzilla Japanese trailer
King Kong vs. Godzilla American trailer
King Kong vs. Godzilla International trailer
King Kong vs. Godzilla German trailer

Miscellaneous

Champion Festival opening

Trivia

  • Not only was this the first Godzilla or King Kong film shot in the anamorphic "Scope" ratio (2.35:1), but it was also both monsters' first appearance in color.
  • 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 1966, Eiji Tsuburaya produced an episode of Ultra Q, the first entry in his Ultra Series, which revolved around a giant octopus named Sudar, using the props originally created for this film.
  • 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.

External Links

References

This is a list of references for King Kong vs. Godzilla. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

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Era Icon - Universal.png
Era Icon - Showa.png
Movie
Era Icon - Godzilla.png
Era Icon - King Kong.png
Era Icon - Oodako.png
Era Icon - Giant Lizard.png



Comments

Showing 13 comments. Remember to follow the civility guidelines when commenting.

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avatar

Titanollante

15 days ago
Score 0

Watched King Kong vs. Godzilla for the first time since 2014, here are my thoughts: It was definitely the most entertaining Godzilla movie so far. The Godzilla/Kong fight at the end was AMAZING and I loved the little interactions between Godzilla and Kong. The whole movie had a fun tone. Mr. Tako is the most ridiculous human in existence. He wanted to bring Kong to Japan just for an advertisement and put thousands at lives at risk for it. Not only that but he was rooting for Kong all the way just because of that (and his hating Godzilla just because it distracted from his marketing...). It was fuuun! Convincing the Farou natives to let them see Kong was also funny.The main characters are okay. I wish I saw more of Farou Island's creatures, I think since there's a Giant Octopus and misnomered Giant Lizard plus Kong, there is definitely more to that island that we didn't see, which is what KSI did, so it's not really a problem for KKvG to not have it. Akihiko Hirata didn't do much at all so it was weird to see him in the movie just to spout a few allegories. It was kinda cool to see the newspaper guy from G54 return here... or at least that's who I hope that was since it was the same actor and they're both from news companies. The effects were ... ech... maybe not as good as they could've been. The DERPKong and the balloons things are simply laughably bad, but I don't think that takes away from the movie for me...

I think the movie was an okay pace, so far all the movies just kinda have me wanting them to finish as soon as possible, so I don't know if that's gonna stick with every Godzilla movie but hopefully it doesn't and there is a Godzilla movie that I just completely connect to and let myself be lost in... Oh and, did I mention Giant Lizard? Giant Lizard is a BAWS. A++++++ kaiju.

I give this movie 🏯🏯🏯🏯🏯 (5/5 pagodas)
avatar

SkullIsland

26 days ago
Score 0
Did anyone else notice the music notes on most of the Showa Godzilla posters?
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GodzillaWiki

one month ago
Score 0
That trailer quote is way too long
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The King of the Monsters

one month ago
Score 0
We could replace it with the American poster tagline.
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Gerdzerl Kinerfdamahnsters

one month ago
Score 0
Perhaps it and the poster taglines could be given their own subsection?
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The King of the Monsters

one month ago
Score 0
If nothing else we can always fit them in the site's quote archive.
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DoctorSuperGrantZilla

one month ago
Score 0
A truly underrated movie, often unfairly maligned due to King Kong winning, in spite of the fact that the 1954 Godzilla only faced about 50,000 volts, and not the millions of volts that the Showa Godzilla faced in this movie, and for that matter, that King Kong represented the natural world, and Godzilla the artificial world, and finally, that frankly, good movies don't always run under "power level logic" and characters can win or lose by other factors than power levels.
avatar

CdrWikizilla

4 months ago
Score 0
I'mma be real here. I don't really like this movie. You can get mad at me all you want, but I just don't like this one. And no, it's not because Kong won.
avatar

Toa Hydros

9 months ago
Score 2

My Thoughts: King Kong vs Godzilla

The concept alone is enough to adore this film: King Kong and Godzilla, arguably the two most famous movie monsters ever going head to head with Japan caught in the middle.

While the acting is about what you'd expect from an early 60's Japanese creature feature, the human characters are still likable and never take up too much screen time, with the focus always staying on Kong and Goji.

The monster scenes are just classic: Goji busting out of an iceberg, Kong fighting a giant octopus, Godzilla stomping armies... Heck, you even see Kong getting drunk. Where else are you gonna see that? And it all culminates with an epic kaiju grand slam of East vs West. Easily one of the greatest monster brawls ever.

Granted, there are some things that could've been improved: The Kong costume is pretty hard to look at, but acceptable for the time period. The added American scenes also tend to contradict the earlier films, while the remnants of the earlier Godzilla vs Frankenstein plot make things just downright confusing; how does Kong draw strength from electricity, and how does the UN scientist know this fact before it ever happens?

Is it nonsensical at times? Yes. Is it cheesy as all getout? Most definitely, but that just adds to the charm.
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Kaiju4EVER

9 months ago
Score 1

My opinion on this film:

I like how the crossover has Godzilla come back by him breaking out of the iceberg (with him being buried in ice in the last film) and King Kong being found on an island and I like the fight scenes, but like the previous film, the American release changed things around a bit: 9/10
avatar

Zakor1138

10 months ago
Score 1

Kong totally deserved that win. lol

Also, hi everyone.
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Titanollante

10 months ago
Score 0
Hey Zakor!! Nice to see ya.
avatar

Deathrock9

10 months ago
Score 0
Hello.