Son of Kong (1933)
|King Kong films|
Son of Kong, originally released as The Son of Kong,[a] is a 1933 American giant monster film directed and produced by Ernest Schoedsack and written by Ruth Rose, with stop-motion effects by Willis O'Brien. Produced by RKO Radio Pictures, it is a sequel to King Kong, which released earlier that same year. The film stars Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack, Frank Reicher, John Marston, Victor Wong, Lee Kohlmar, and Ed Brady. RKO released it to American theaters on December 22, 1933.
Shortly after Kong's demise atop the Empire State Building, Carl Denham flees with Captain Englehorn aboard the Venture to escape the public scrutiny and financial liability sprouting from Kong's transport to New York City. After some time in the cargo business, Denham and Englehorn learn of a treasure supposedly hidden on Skull Island, and make a return trip there with stowaway Hilda Petersen. There they encounter Kong's friendly albino son Kiko, who helps to defend them from the island's dangers as they search for the fabled treasure. Son of Kong was not the massive success that its predecessor was, and the King Kong franchise entered a long period of dormancy after its release, despite attempts by Merian C. Cooper and O'Brien to revive it. Kong finally returned to the big screen in the Japanese crossover film King Kong vs. Godzilla, released almost 30 years later in 1962.
Over a month following King Kong's demise atop the Empire State Building, Carl Denham is broke and beset by lawsuits and court summmonses, and boarding in an old woman's house to escape reporters. Charlie, the cook from the Venture, manages to get inside and see Denham, and informs him that Captain Englehorn wants to see him aboard the ship. Denham has his business partner Mickey disguise him and bring him to the docks in his carriage. In the captain's quarters of the Venture, Denham discusses with Englehorn what their next move should be. Englehorn suggests they enter the cargo business using the Venture, as they both are likely to face prison time if they remain in New York City. Denham accepts, and sets off on the Venture with Charlie and a ragtag crew.
The Venture eventually docks in Dakang, still unsuccessful in doing much business. Denham and Englehorn visit the local town, where Denham insists they go see a show advertised on a poster. Englehorn reluctantly accompanies him to the show, which consists of a band of dancing monkeys and a singing act by "La Belle Helene." Denham takes a liking to the performer, a pretty young black-haired woman named Hilda Petersen. After the show, Hilda returns to the tent where she and her father run their small traveling circus. Against Hilda's wishes, her father invites over Nils Helstrom, a disgraced Norwegian captain, to drink. As the two men become increasingly intoxicated and begin arguing, Helstrom snaps and breaks a liquor bottle over Petersen's head. This also knocks over a torch, setting the entire tent ablaze. Helstrom flees while Hilda frees the animals and pulls her father from the burning tent. Hilda asks her father who did this, but he dies from his wounds before he can respond. Denham finds Hilda the next morning and learns what happened to her father, and tries to comfort her by saying she can make something of herself as an entertainer. She asks if Denham is in the entertainment business, but he quickly denies it. Denham goes to a local bar with Englehorn, where they encounter Helstrom, whom Denham recognizes as the Norwegian skipper who sold him the map of Skull Island which had taken them in search of Kong in the first place. As the two men catch up, Helstrom says he is aware that Denham found Kong on the island, and suggests Denham share some of the profits with him since he helped him find the island. Denham responds that he is broke and being sued by everyone in New York, to Helstrom's dismay. Helstrom then asks if Denham also found the treasure of Skull Island, left behind by the once-great civilization which built the wall. With the possibility of treasure on Skull Island, Denham and Englehorn decide to make a return voyage and bring Helstrom along. Before departing, Denham gives Hilda some money to book passage out of Dakang, but she asks repeatedly to come with him. Denham refuses and bids her farewell before leaving aboard the Venture.
As the ship approaches Skull Island, Helstrom convinces the crew to mutiny, as 12 members of Denham's last trip to the island all perished, yet both Denham and Englehorn escaped unscathed. Around the same time, Charlie finds Hilda hiding in the cargo hold. Unable to take her back now, Denham decides to allow Hilda to accompany them. Once the Venture is within sight of Skull Island, Helstrom stages his mutiny and with the rest of the crew force Denham, Englehorn, and Hilda to leave aboard a lifeboat. They find Charlie waiting for them, who claims he did not like the rest of the crew and would rather go with them. Helstrom tries to declare himself captain of the Venture, but the crew laughs and throws him overboard, with Denham reluctantly letting him board their boat. Equipped with only food and two shotguns Charlie snuck aboard, they make their way to the beach of Skull Island. They are greeted by a spear that lands in front of them as the native chief and his men approach. The chief informs them that he holds them responsible for all of his people's deaths when they let Kong through the wall. Everyone then re-boards the boat to find a different spot to land, as the natives are clearly hostile to them. They land in a small inlet, where Denham and Hilda scout ahead to search for higher ground. They eventually encounter Kong's 12-foot albino son Kiko, who is trapped in a pit of quicksand. Out of remorse for causing his father's death, Denham pushes over a nearby tree, which Kiko grabs onto to escape. They eventually come upon a temple, which Denham believes may house the treasure. He and Hilda stay behind at the temple while Englehorn and the others scout ahead. They are quickly charged by a Styracosaurus, which chases them into a small crevice. Englehorn fires his gun at the beast, which simply grabs it in its mouth and bites it in half. Charlie tries stabbing at it with his cleaver, but the dinosaur is unfazed.
Back near the temple, Hilda and Denham find themselves under attack by a giant cave bear. Hearing Hilda's scream, Kiko jumps into action and wrestles with the bear. Kiko struggles to stay on even footing with the larger foe, but successfully beats it into submission and causes it to flee. Kiko notices that his finger has been injured in the fight and sits moaning in pain. Hilda suggests they help him, to which Denham agrees due once more to his guilt for what he did to Kiko's father. Hilda tears off a strip of cloth from her blouse which Denham wraps around Kiko's wounded finger as a bandage. As he does so, he genuinely apologizes to Kiko for what he did to his father. Hilda and Denham are able to catch a bird in the jungle for food, but she remarks that she wishes they could reach the coconuts in a nearby tree. Denham tries pushing against the tree unsuccessfully, before Kiko intervenes and shakes the tree, showering Hilda and Denham with coconuts. The two make camp outside the temple, where they are silently observed by Kiko.
The next morning, Englehorn, Charlie, and Helstrom find that the Styracosaurus is gone and Englehorn's gun is broken. Denham and Hilda still struggle to figure out how to get into the temple, only for Kiko to smash the wall down. The three enter the temple and find a necklace bearing huge diamonds set atop a stone statue. Carl has Kiko help him reach it, and just as he exclaims they have found the treasure, a dragon enters the cave and attacks them. Kiko fends it off, grappling with the reptilian beast which constricts its tail around his neck. However, Kiko throws the dragon to the ground and punches it in the head repeatedly until it ceases moving. Kiko believes he is victorious before the dragon stirs back to life and bites him. Kiko punches the dragon again, and this time it goes limp. The three all head out of the temple where they meet Englehorn and the others. The sight of Kiko causes Helstrom to run off in terror, and Denham tells the others to get to the boat while he stays behind to get the rest of the treasure. However, a severe storm strikes the island as earthquakes begin to tear it apart. Helstrom jumps into the boat but a sea serpent erupts from the water and eats him. Hilda, Englehorn, and Charlie reach the boat and begin to float away as Skull Island crumbles and sinks into the sea. With the temple collapsing around them, Kiko and Denham climb outside and find themselves on a rapidly-sinking platform. Kiko climbs to the top, beckoning to Denham to follow. However, Kiko's leg becomes trapped in the rock, and he is unable to move. As the lifeboat holding Hilda, Englehorn, and Charlie approaches, Kiko grabs Denham and holds him high above his head as he sinks below the water. The others are able to rescue Denham from Kiko's hand, and can only watch as the heroic ape sinks to his death.
As day breaks, Englehorn spots a boat which promptly rescues them. Sometime later, Denham stands on deck looking longingly at the sea. Hilda approaches him and asks what he is thinking about, and he responds how he feels bad for Kiko. He wonders if Kiko knew he died saving his life, and Hilda replies that she is sure he did. Denham informs her that they will split the profits from the treasure four ways, but Hilda suggests they split it three ways: one-third for Englehorn, one-third for Charlie, and one-third for the two of them. Denham is surprised but overjoyed at Hilda's suggestion, and the two share a loving embrace as they look out over the sea.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ernest Schoedsack
- Written by Ruth Rose
- Executive producer Merian C. Cooper
- Produced by Ernest Schoedsack (uncredited)
- Associate producer Archie Marshek
- Music by Max Steiner
- Cinematography by Eddie Linden, Vernon Walker, J.O. Taylor; Kenneth Peach (uncredited)
- Edited by Ted Cheesman
- Production design by Van Nest Polglase, Al Herman
- Assistant directors William Cody, Ivan Thomas, Walter Daniels (uncredited)
- Chief technician Willis O'Brien
- Special effects by Harry Redmond Jr. (uncredited)
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham
- Helen Mack as Hilda Petersen
- Frank Reicher as Captain Englehorn
- John Marston as Nils Helstrom
- Victor Wong as Charlie
- Lee Kohlmar as Mickey (uncredited)
- Ed Brady as Red
- Clarence Wilson as Mr. Petersen, Hilda's father (uncredited)
- Noble Johnson as Skull Island native chief (uncredited)
- Steve Clemente as witch king (uncredited)
- Gertrude Short as lady reporter (uncredited)
- Katherine Ward as Mrs. Hudson (uncredited)
- Kiyoshi Kawakubo as Carl Denham
- Yoko Hayashi as Hilda Petersen
- Tetsuya Kaji as Captain Englehorn
- Goro Naya as Nils Helstrom
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Son of Kong/Gallery.
- Main article: Son of Kong/Soundtrack.
- Jamboree (working title)
- The Son of Kong (initial English title; El hijo de Kong, Spain and Mexico)
- The Revenge of Kong (コングの復讐Japan) Kongu no Fukushū,
- The Son of King Kong (O Filho de King Kong; Brazil; Portugal)
- King Kong's Son (King Kongs Sohn; Germany)
- Kong's Son (Kongin poika; Finland)
- United States - December 22, 1933
- Mexico - May 17, 1934
- Netherlands - July 20, 1934
- Sweden - October 27, 1934
- Japan - December 1934
- Finland - December 9, 1934
- Portugal - May 6, 1936
Son of Kong was distributed theatrically in Japan by RKO Japan in December 1934, in English with Japanese subtitles. It was broadcast on Japanese television by NHK on October 22, 1961 with a Japanese dub which featured Kiyoshi Kawakubo and Tetsuya Kaji reprising their roles as Carl Denham and Englehorn from NHK's earlier dub of the original King Kong.
Son of Kong received mostly negative reception upon release, and was criticized as a rushed cash-in on the success of King Kong, due to its short 69-minute runtime and several recycled elements from the previous film.
Warner Bros. DVD (2005)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (1.0 Mono)
- Special features: Trailer
- Notes: Also packaged with King Kong (1933).
Warner Bros. Blu-ray (2015/2017)
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (1.0 Mono), Spanish (1.0 Mono)
- Special features: Trailer
- Notes: Includes French and Spanish subtitles. Also packaged with Mighty Joe Young, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and Them!, or King Kong (1933).
- "Son of Kong" was an early reported title for the fifth entry in the Monsterverse, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.
- While the film's title card writes its title as The Son of Kong, its poster drops the "The." It has since come to be known by the title Son of Kong, such as on video releases and by Warner Bros. themselves.
This is a list of references for Son of Kong. 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: 
- Morton, Ray (2005). King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1-55783-669-4.
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