Film & Water #85 – King Kong (1976)


Episode 85: KING KONG (1976)

The King Kong Countdown Continues! Rob welcomes back film critic Zaki Hasan (MOVIEFILM PODCAST) to discuss Dino De Laurentiis' 1976 blockbuster remake of KING KONG!

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27 responses to “Film & Water #85 – King Kong (1976)

  1. You guys do a great job breaking down this movie as an interesting reflection of American hubris for the time(s). I may need to rewatch it with that in mind.

    I will say that I did see this in the theater. And a young Anj felt odd stirrings about Jessica Lange. Especially in the beaded Sheena style garb when she is with Kong.

    But I really want to talk about DeLaurentis. There is this moment where I think I moved from movie watcher to film fan. That moment as a kid where you start recognizing directors/producers names instead of just the movie stars. DeLaurentis might have been the first ‘behind the camera’ names I recognized. The Kong ad was all over comics at the time and DeLaurentis name was plastered all over that.

    As I kid I loved Kong so I equated DeLaurentis name with a good product. And I’ll say, I love (and I mean LOVE) the first Conan movie. I quote that movie all the time. And, despite the wonkiness of the proceedings and the liberties it takes with the book, I actually like the Lynch Dune. So when I saw those in the theater and DeLaurentis name came on screen, I thought ‘this is going to be awesome!’

    In the end, I also debated which Kong to show my kids and opted for the first one.

    Thanks for the great discussion!

    1. Dino was huge to me as a kid as well, proving how good he was at getting his name out there: KING KONG, CONAN, FLASH GORDON–even though I was barely aware of the people who made movies who weren’t named George Lucas, I was familiar with DDL. He made lots of movies that kids of the 70s ate up with a spoon.

      No one would blame you for stirrings re: Jessica Lange. She’s gorgeous and giggly in this movie, the kind of girl that registers a 9/10 on the Richter Scale when it comes to what young boys like. Knowing her more for her high brow film career, it was surreal seeing her in a role like this.

      Thanks for listening!

  2. I feel like Wes Craven had that status for a time where his name would be above the title even if it was only a film he produced and didn’t direct. Take the Dracula film from 2000 starring Gerard Butler. The poster for that one said WES CRAVEN PRESENTS DRACULA 2000. In fact, I’m pretty sure I went to see that movie under the impression that Craven was the director and I ended up with some piece of crap starring Vitamin C.

    1. If you’re a Wes Craven fan, you should enjoy episode 87.

      I used to let certain directors lead me to movies sight unseen, but after a few bombs from each (Tim Burton, Kevin Smith are two names that come to mind), I kinda gave up on that. I think Albert Brooks is the only one still on that list.

          1. Ah well.

            Deadly friend has my second favorite ‘head explodes’ scene in movies.

            The epsode on the movie you’re reviewing will make my heart sing. It’ll make everything groovy.

  3. This movie does seem to be getting a reappraisal in the zeitgeist. I know Monster Kid Radio recently discussed it in positive terms. It’s also funny how the myth of it being a flop gets around. Many films in the geeky genre are often labeled as such, Superman III and Batman and Robin for example. The quality of those films may be in question, but they were box office hits, despite opinions then and now.

    Even though I didn’t get to the movies too often as a kid, I knew who Dino De Laurentis was. I think you were just told about him in the delivery room or something.

    I haven’t seen this one since I was a kid, so I think I’m up for a Kong-A-Thon.


    1. I wish movie theaters did more “event” programming, like a Kong-A-Thon. I would have taken a day off from work if some cineplex was offering a Kong 33/Kong 76/Kong 05/Kong: Skull Island marathon.

  4. Well, you’ve sold me on going to see Skull Island. Somehow I had not paid any attention to this upcoming film and had even missed the trailer (which I just now watched: very Apocalypse Now). It’s been decades since I even thought of the 1976 Kong and I will surely check it out ASAP.

    One bit of trivia: Back in the 1970s, my family had some very close friends who worked at the World Trade Center (mostly doing construction; refuse) when some location work for Kong was being done. According to the family lore, these guys stole several bits of the Kong fur. We kids were supposed to get some of it but it never happened. Did they really steal some of the fur? I don’t know but I’d like to think that some of it is sitting in my Aunt Millie’s basement back in Queens.

  5. I was too young to catch this in the theaters, but this was my first King Kong film. Like Dr. Anj, my primary memories of the film are of Dwan and Kong together on the island. Unfortunately, the social commentary, which you gentlemen highlighted, was lost on my young mind.

    I also recall seeing King Kong Lives. I guess I was young enough that I had no problem accepting Kong’s miraculous recovery, and I was appropriately moved by Kong’s bittersweet meeting with his newborn son. Based on Zaki’s assessment of the film, I think I’ll avoid watching this one again, and just live with my childhood memories of the movie. Ignorance is bliss.

      1. I think the big draw for me as a kid was the fact that Kong survived the first film. I always thought it was so unfair that he had to pay the price for human stupidity.

  6. My favorite DDL story is when Flash Gordon’s director excitedly tells Dino he got Queen to do the soundtrack.
    Dino: “Who are the Queens?”

    Also, Flash Gordon is terrificly terrible.

  7. Thinking of Jessica Lange, as she’s playing Joan Crawford opposite Susan Saranfon’s Bette Davis on the FX miniseries Feud any chance of a “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” episode?

    1. Can you believe I’ve never seen WHTBJ?

      I saw the first episode of FEUD and really liked it, so I think once it wraps up I will finally watch the movie. You volunteering?

      1. I’d be game for that if nobody else in the FW community called dibs. It’s been years since I’ve seen Baby Jane but it is haunting in its own macabre way (plus it’s gut King Tut- Victor Buono in his Oscar nominated role)

  8. I’m not sure I have it in me to actually go back and watch this again, but I totally get what you guys are saying in your assessment of it. I think the big killer of the thing for me was Charles Grodin. In terms of his plot function he was filling in for the Carl Denham character. And I LOVE Carl Denham (to the point that I want to pick a fight with Rob every time he calls the guy a jerk.) And to have this sleazy, hammy character being played so over the top as the fill in for that part just turned me off right from the start. I suppose the positive thing I can say is that seeing this made me more fully realized how much Denham factored into my love of that original film.

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