King Kong (RKO)
|King Kong incarnations|
And now, ladies and gentlemen, before I tell you any more, I'm going to show you the greatest thing your eyes have ever beheld. He was a king and a god in the world he knew, but now he comes to civilization merely a captive, a show to gratify your curiosity. Ladies and gentlemen, look at Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World!
Revered as a god by the people of Skull Island, Kong was encountered by a film crew who traveled to the island in 1933 to shoot Carl Denham's next picture. The crew's leading lady, Ann Darrow, was kidnapped by the islanders and offered as a sacrifice to Kong, who accepted his new "bride" and carried her off into the jungle. There, Kong would defend Ann from the other savage denizens of the island, such as a meat-eating dinosaur, a cave serpent, and a Pteranodon. Once Ann was rescued by Jack Driscoll, Kong followed them back to the village on the island, tearing down its protective wall and rampaging before being knocked out by gas bombs. Denham decided to bring Kong back to New York and put the beast on display, only for Kong to become enraged and break free from his chains, going on a rampage through the concrete jungle. After kidnapping Ann once again, Kong climbed the Empire State Building, where he was engaged by several Curtiss F8C Helldiver planes and fatally wounded. After succumbing to his wounds, Kong fell from the top of the skyscraper and plummeted to his death in the streets below. While Kong was dead, Denham would return to Skull Island shortly afterward and encounter his albino son, Kiko. Guilty for causing his father's death, Denham would befriend Kiko and brave the perils of the island with the young monster's help. When Skull Island was destroyed in a catastrophic earthquake and sank into the sea, Kiko gave his life to save Denham from drowning.
King Kong was named by Merian C. Cooper who, after consulting with his friend W. Douglas Burden, decided upon the name "Kong" due to his liking of single-syllable film titles with peculiar sounds and liking of the hard 'K' sound. The prefix "King" was later attached to the original film's title, and by extent Kong himself, after a complaint from executives at RKO who refused to accept the title due to it having "a Chinese sound" and being too similar to the name of Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's 1927 film, Chang. Prior to King Kong being decided upon, the titles "The Eighth Wonder" and "The Beast" were considered, the former of which would be extended to The Eighth Wonder of the World and used as a nickname for Kong within the film.
Merian C. Cooper had been fascinated with gorillas ever since he was a child and while filming The Four Feathers in Africa, he encountered a family of baboons, which inspired him to create a film involving a giant gorilla.  Cooper specifically developed the ending first before anything else in the story, a giant gorilla fighting warplanes atop the Empire State Building, as it was the tallest building in the world at the time. There are rumors that Kong would have been portrayed as a live action gorilla fighting Komodo dragons, and while there is not much evidence to support this rumor, Cooper was inspired by the Komodo dragon and wanted Kong to fight dinosaur-sized beasts.
When the film was greenlit by RKO, so came the time to design the monster. Cooper specifically stated in a 1930 memo that, "His hands and feet have the size and strength of steam shovels; his girth is that of a steam boiler. This is a monster with the strength of a hundred men. But more terrifying is the head—a nightmare head with bloodshot eyes and jagged teeth set under a thick mat of hair, a face half-beast half-human".  Animator Willis O'Brien created an oil painting depicting a gorilla menacing a hunter and jungle heroine for Cooper. It is interesting to note that the gorilla in the painting is not particularly gigantic, or at least not as big as Kong would turn out to be. However, when the time came to sculpt the stop motion animation model for Kong, both O'Brien and animator Marcel Delgado had a difficult time creating the look for Kong; due to creative differences between Cooper and O'Brien. Cooper wanted Kong to look completely like a gorilla, while O'Brien wanted to gain sympathy from the audience by looking more human-like, specifically instructing Delgado to make the ape "almost human."  The first model was laughed at by Cooper, saying that it looked like a mix between a man and a monkey with long hair. The second one had toned down the human features, however; the result was said to be a missing link. Cooper got the dimensions of a bull gorilla from the American Museum of Natural History, saying that he wanted Kong to be "the fiercest, most brutal, monstrous damned thing that has ever been seen!". Ultimately, O'Brien would incorporate aspects of another ape-like monster he created many years earlier, Wild Willie, from the 1915 short film The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy, into Kong's final model; he even went so far as to call Wild Willie "Kong's ancestor". . Finally, Cooper wanted Kong to walk upright to be more intimidating, specifically in the scenes in New York. 
Kong is a colossal ape, standing approximately 50 feet tall. Superficially resembling a gorilla, Kong has the unusual habit of walking primarily upright on two legs like a human, though he occasionally knuckle-walks like a real gorilla. His skin is leathery in texture, and is entirely black like his short fur. Most art depicts Kong as brown, but the official colorized version of the film shows him as black with brown eyes.
To be added.
While the original films left Kong's origin a mystery, promotional materials suggest that he comes from prehistoric times, with the estimates for his age including 10 million, 7 million, and the lowest being 500,000. Kong's age is once again stated to be 7 million by author Walter Ripperger in his short story adaptation of the film for The Mystery Magazine in 1933, where he also states that Kong is the last of his kind. Kong's advanced age is supported in the film Englehorn's recognition of the name "Kong" as a demon in Malay folklore. Despite his age, the presence of another ape believed to be his young son would seem to imply that Kong had a mate at one point, and that he was indeed part of a larger species of gigantic ape. That said, without documentation on Cooper or Schoedsack's original conceptions of the character's history, there is little detail available regarding Kong's original origin story.
Russell Blackford's 2005 novel Kong Reborn officially serves as a sequel to the film's novelization, but is written to accept the original film's events as well, minus the events of Son of Kong. In this world, Kong's species is named Gorilla gigans, and his origins remain a mystery to the world. Many theories existed regarding Kong's origin, including that he might have been a regular gorilla that due to a genetic mutation had never stopped growing. However, a 2009 expedition to Skull Island revealed an entire troop of giant gorillas living in the jungle, seeming to disprove the earlier theory. Despite this stable population, it is unknown why Kong lived separately from them during the events of the source material.
- King Kong (1933)
- Son of Kong (1933) [poster]
- The Lost Spider Pit Sequence (2005) [stock footage]
- Cloverfield (2008) [stock footage; still frame]
King Kong was first discovered on Skull Island by an American film crew led by Carl Denham. The natives on the island kidnapped Ann Darrow, the crew's leading lady, and sacrificed her to Kong, who they treated as a type of god. They tied her to two pillars on a moveable platform and took her to the other side of a wall they built to keep Kong out. After the gates closed, the tribesmen climbed to the top of the wall to finish the rites and watch the spectacle about to unfold. The chief called for silence and gave a prayer to his god that he would accept the sacrifice. Two men banged a massive gong. The rest of the natives repeated the last words of the prayer. The gong rang again. Suddenly, a growl could be heard in the darkness. Something was stirring in the nearby trees. To Ann’s horror, from the canopy emerged a gigantic 50-foot ape. It was Kong, the god of Skull Island. Ann screamed in terror while Kong stared at her smiling, curious and entranced by her. He tore off the vines Ann was tied to and held her in a tight grip with his hand, causing her to scream even louder. After roaring angrily at the tribesmen on the top of the wall, Kong went off into the dark jungle, taking Ann with him. At one point, Kong left Ann on a tree and wandered off to deal with the rest of the film crew, who were pursuing him. As the crew attempted to cross a chasm on a crude log bridge, Kong lifted the log and twisted it, causing much of the crew to fall to their deaths into the abyss below. Jack Driscoll hid in a cave at the edge of the chasm, but Kong found him. However, Kong’s grip was just out of reach, and when his fingers got too close Jack stabbed him with his machete. As Kong continued to reach for Driscoll, the sailor saw a large monitor lizard crawling up a vine that led into the cave. Luckily, Jack was able to cut the vine and get back out of Kong’s reach. Meanwhile, a Tyrannosaurus rex discovered Ann on the tree and attempted to eat her. Kong gave up on Jack and ran back to the tree to battle the T-rex. Kong arrived just in time and wrestled with the T-rex, avoiding his bites with swift dodges and by closing his jaws. He was able to tire the T-rex, giving him the opportunity for the killing blow. Kong jumped up on the creature’s back and began to break its jaws. The T-rex continually got out of Kong’s grip, only for Kong to regain it. Eventually the T-rex became weakened and Kong was finally able to fully break its jaws. Ann, who fell with the tree during the fight, tried to escape. However, Kong easily grabbed her back into his hand and then continued his journey through the rainforest. Jack climbed out of the cave at the edge of the chasm and continued his pursuit. Kong took Ann to his home in a cave on a mountain, where he placed her on a small ledge in one of the walls. Kong went to a nearby lake in the cave to drink. A giant cave serpent began to slither up the walls to the ledge Ann was left on, and when she noticed it she screamed. Kong immediately rushed to her aid. The serpent gave Kong multiple bites and continually tried to strangle him, almost succeeding at one point. Luckily, Kong was able to get out of its grasp, grabbed it by the tail, and beat it against the cave wall. After inspecting to make sure the creature was dead, Kong roared victoriously and once again grabbed hold of Ann, climbing out of the cave onto a large cliff. Kong set Ann on the ground and looked over Skull Island like a king inspecting his kingdom, and let out a massive roar to display his dominance. Overcome with fear, Ann fainted. Kong grabbed her again and began to tear her clothes. This caused Ann to wake up, and horrified, began desperately to try to get out of Kong’s grasp. Kong, amused, began to tickle her, terrifying her even more. Jack reached the cave but accidentally caused a large boulder to roll down. This got Kong’s attention and he went back inside to inspect the noise. Jack quickly hid behind a large rock before King could find him. As Kong continued to search for Jack, Ann meanwhile was attacked by a Pteranodon. Kong hurried back to the cliff when he heard her screaming and tried to fight off the creature. Jack reunited with Ann, and the two managed to escape from Kong while he was distracted by the Pteranodon. Enraged, Kong followed the two to the natives' village, tearing down the wall and wreaking havoc. Despite the natives' best efforts, they could not kill the massive ape with their primitive weaponry. Along with smashing many huts, Kong killed many natives with debris, tossing them around, crushing them, and biting them in his mouth. Using a store of gas bombs he brought on the voyage, Carl Denham and his crew managed to knock Kong unconscious and subdue him.
Denham brought Kong back to New York on board the crew's ship, the Venture, intending to profit from showing Kong to the public. Denham arranged a show at a theater in New York, where he publicly showed the captured Kong to an audience, accompanied by Jack and Ann. When photographers began taking pictures of Ann, Kong believed they were attacking her and broke free from his chains, destroying the theater in a fit of rage. Ann, Jack, and Denham escaped unharmed, but Kong broke free from the theater into the streets, where he chewed a man in his mouth after the man’s car crashed in the chaos, and also crushed some police officers with a piece of a roof above a door from a hotel building. Kong began to scale buildings looking for Ann, dropping a woman to her death after mistaking her for Ann but then realizing it was not her. He eventually found her in a hotel room that she fled to, and when he reached out his hand through the window, Jack tried to protect Ann by hitting Kong with a chair, but the debris of the chair reflected back to him and he was rendered unconscious. Kong, unfazed by Jack’s effort, abducted Ann again. Her in his hand, Kong overturned cars, stomped on fleeing citizens, and destroyed a train. Finding himself pursued and attacked by police, Kong climbed the Empire State Building to escape. The military sent a fleet of biplanes armed with machine guns to stop Kong and save Ann. Atop the Empire State Building, Kong swatted down and destroyed several of the planes, but was mortally wounded by machine gun fire. Kong set Ann down gently and fell off the building, plummeting to the streets below. As crowds gathered around Kong's dead body, a bystander remarked that the airplanes finally got Kong, to which Denham replied that "It was Beauty killed the Beast."
- Main article: Kiko.
Only a matter of months after King Kong's rampage and subsequent death in New York, Carl Denham returned to Skull Island with another crew, where he encountered Kong's albino son, Kiko. Kiko protected Denham and Hilda, a stowaway on the Venture, from various creatures on Skull Island, before drowning when an earthquake destroyed Skull Island by causing it to sink beneath the ocean, saving Denham's life as his dying act.
No new scenes of Kong were made for The Lost Spider Pit Sequence. It plays out the same, with Kong placing Ann Darrow on a tree, and then running to the canyon. He then picks up the tree that the men of the Venture are using as a bridge and shakes them off one by one. He then tries, and fails, to grab Jack Driscoll, who has escaped to a ledge below the fallen tree.
I tell you, skipper, this Kong is the biggest thing in the world! He shook those men off that log like they were FLIES!
Kong is an incredibly strong and skilled combatant. He uses his overwhelming strength to lift objects like fallen trees or smash down the colossal wall surrounding the Skull Island village. His physical capabilities are demonstrated further in his battles against the creatures of the island. He is able to match the Meat-Eater's strength and eventually pin it to the ground before breaking its jaws. He withstands being nearly constricted to death by an Elasmosaurus before forcibly ripping the creature off of his body and killing it instantly by repeatedly slamming it on the ground. He kills a Pteranodon by grabbing the creature out of the sky and crushing its body in his clutches. Kong's strength is so great he is able to break free from chrome steel chains thought to be unbreakable. Kong can crush structures such as the natives' huts and even a train with his bare hands, and uses his feet to stomp humans into the dirt. He can also bite humans to death between his powerful jaws.
Kong is quite agile for his size, which allows him to dodge many of the Meat-Eater's strikes and avoid potentially deadly blows. Kong can run very quickly by dropping onto all fours and charging forward. Kong uses his agility to effortlessly traverse the jungle terrain of Skull Island and scale buildings in Manhattan, and is even able to strike passing biplanes as they attack him while on top of the Empire State Building.
Kong demonstrates a fair deal of durability and stamina, as he shifts from battling the Venture crew to battling three of the beasts of Skull Island within a short span of time, winning each encounter. He is pierced by numerous spears during his rampage in the Skull Island village, which only seem to serve as a minor annoyance to him. While Kong's durability is not limitless, he withstands a sustained amount of gunfire from the Curtiss F8C Helldiver biplanes before finally succumbing to his wounds.
Books and short stories
- King Kong (1932)
- "King Kong" (1933) - Boys' Magazine
- "King Kong" (1933) - The Mystery Magazine
- "King Kong" (1933) - London Daily Herald
- "After King Kong Fell" (1973)
- The Illustrated King Kong (1976)
- King Kong (1983) - Step Up Adventures
- Anthony Browne's King Kong (1994)
- Kong Reborn (2005)
During a routine sacrifice ceremony by the natives of Skull Mountain Island, Kong was given Ann Darrow, an out-of-work actress from New York City. On being taken by him, she passed out and he began his trek back to his home in Skull Mountain. While carrying Ann in his great hand, Kong crossed a large asphalt flat, where three Triceratopses seemed to menace her. He put her down beside him and began to throw chunks of hardened asphalt at the beasts, forcing them back. However, one of them went raging back into the jungle, where Kong discovered the crew of the Wanderer crossing a fallen tree bridging a deep chasm, with a wounded Triceratops menacing them from the other side. Kong left Ann in a tree and shook the pursuing sailors off the log before throwing it into the pit. He then grabbed for Jack Driscoll, the only survivor, who was hiding in a cliffside cave. Kong reached in for him but had his hand stabbed. Before he could retaliate, he heard Ann screaming. Kong rushed back to find her being menaced by a Meat-Eater. Kong engaged the beast in combat until he climbed on its back and broke its jaws. After a brief celebration of victory, Kong grabbed Ann and made his way through the jungle to his hideout at Skull Mountain, where he was forced to fight for his life against a water serpent that had hidden in his watering hole. That night, he slept with Ann in his great hand, however, Pteranodons attacked, and Driscoll stole Ann away. Kong gave chase, and arrived at the Skull Island Gate just behind them. He broke down the doors, crushing many villagers underneath them. He proceeded to destroy the village in search of Darrow, systematically tearing roofs off of huts until he caught sight of her. He ran toward the coast, where he was knocked out with gas bombs.
He was then caged, chained, and put on Broadway in a re-enactment of his capture. However, Kong became angered by the camera flashes and thought Ann was in danger. He then broke out of the theater searching for the woman. He climbed the hotel across the street and saw her in her room, and reached in and grabbed her. He then ran across the city in search of safety. His time alone on Skull Mountain lead him to search for the highest point in the city: The Empire State Building. He climbed to the top as Navy Airplanes flew in from South Jersey. He set Ann down at his feet and began to swat at the planes. He sustained machine gun fire to the chest, which gave him a horrible cough. He looked down at Ann one last time before jumping off the building, swatting at a plane before falling to the ground below.
While there was an entire troop of Gorilla gigans living on Skull Island, Kong lived apart from them for unknown reasons.
After Kong's death, his body was burned; however, some of his blood remained on the Empire State Building for almost 80 years until it was discovered in 1999. It was then used by Denham's grandson Jack Denham to clone the beast and repatriate him to Skull Island as a sort of apology.
- Main article: King Kong/Gallery.
Kong's roars were created by the head of RKO's sound department, and sound effects supervisor on the film, Murray Spivak. He used recordings of Selig Zoo in Los Angeles, California, and recorded the roars of lions and tigers, which he played slowed and reversed before cutting them together into a single track before tapering the sound off. The more tame grunts Kong makes were the result of Spivak grunting into a megaphone, then slowing and reversing the sound.
In other languages
This is a list of references for King Kong (RKO). 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: 
- Kong's height varies between 18 and 50 feet throughout the film, but most of RKO's promotional material places him at 50 feet tall.
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