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King Kong (1933)

tomatometer

98

Average Rating: 9/10
Reviews Counted: 54
Fresh: 53 | Rotten: 1

King Kong explores the soul of a monster -- making audiences scream and cry throughout the film -- in large part due to Kong's breakthrough special effects.

100

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 0

King Kong explores the soul of a monster -- making audiences scream and cry throughout the film -- in large part due to Kong's breakthrough special effects.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 88,283

My Rating

Movie Info

"How would you like to star opposite the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood?" Enticed by these words, brunette leading lady Fay Wray dyed her hair blonde and accepted the role of Ann Darrow in King Kong -- and stayed with the project even after learning that her "leading man" was a 50-foot ape. The film introduces us to flamboyant, foolhardy documentary filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), who sails off to parts unknown to film his latest epic with leading lady Darrow in tow.

Nov 22, 2005

RKO Pictures

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All Critics (54) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (1) | DVD (28)

The story, like Frankenstein and Dracula, has taken on the significance of a modern folk tale, layered with obvious moralizing and as familiar as personal history.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"King Kong," as spectacular a bolt of celluloid as has thrilled audiences in a couple of sophisticated seasons, is the product of a number of vivid imaginations.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wholly enjoyable.

October 7, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (9)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Kong mystifies as well as it horrifies, and may open up a new medium for scaring babies via the screen.

July 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Willis O'Brien did the stop-action animation for this 1933 feature, which is richer in character than most of the human cast.

July 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The throbbing heart of the film lies in the creation of the semi-human simian himself, an immortal tribute to the Hollywood dream factory...

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's unrivaled in its sheer cinematic quality, and one of a kind.

October 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Arguably the monster movie of all time, this abiding take on Beauty and the Beast has a mythic power that belies its years.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Unfortunately, it was thought necessary to mitigate some of the predominant horror by introducing a human, all-too-human theme.

October 10, 2012 Full Review Source: The Nation | Comments (8)
The Nation

The grand-daddy of all monster movies.

October 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

...throbbing with metaphorical implications. The riveting, stop-motion battle between the great ape and a T. Rex is just a bonus.

August 9, 2011 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

One of the best adventure horror films ever made, an icon of pop culture with truly erotic and emotionally touching scenes between Fay Wray and the massive gorrilla

April 5, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Violent but beloved old-school monster movie.

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

All these years on from its original release, King Kong still has a great claim to being the eighth wonder of the world.

September 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comment (1)
Film4

'King Kong died for our sins.' It's a T-shirt seen recently in Seattle, worn by a teenager and illustrated with the original vintage image of the monster ape atop the Empire State Building.

April 4, 2006 Full Review Source: DVDJournal.com | Comments (2)
DVDJournal.com

One of those mad movies, like Moulin Rouge! or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, that fully justifies and deserves all the best and worst that can be said for or against them.

February 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

It's one of the rare, great works of art that stands up to endless repeated viewings, each time revealing something new.

December 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

charming fantasy continues to hold up and is a treasure trove of special effects that continue to inspire

December 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews

This movie is part of why I'm so twisted today, and not just because of how that door and the hellish promise of what it hid teased its way into my kiddie brain.

December 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

It is a remarkably universal appeal.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Senses of Cinema
Senses of Cinema

Audience Reviews for King Kong

An impulsive director whisks an unknown actress to an unexplored island to capture a mythic beast on film. The Jurassic Park of its day, King Kong is the original monster movie. Unfortunately the very element that no doubt wowed audiences of the time are now its greatest handicap; the visual effects. Special effects have obviously moved on a great deal over the last 80 years, consequently the creaky stop-motion animation is rather shocking by today's standards and the close ups of the beast's face look like a glove puppet manufactured by someone whose sole information about a gorilla's visage was supplied by an attention deficit toddler. That's not to say that the original Kong is not without its charms; it has a real sense of nostalgic adventure, the other effects have fared rather better than the creatures and Fay Wray manages to be extremely sexy despite being dis-robed by a plasticine primate! Although it's no doubt sacrilege to suggest, but Peter Jackson's re-invention is actually rather better despite its penchant for unnecessary excess and not just because of the visuals. It has better dialogue, greater depth of character, stronger performances and thanks to the talents of Andy Sirkis, a much more emotionally engaging ape. Still, King Kong can be seen as a real benchmark in the evolution of cinema and as such will always be worth a viewing.
January 21, 2013
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

As far as I'm concerned, "Action/Adventure" as a genre begins here: this is the strange and beautiful that directors like Spielberg, and Lucas, and Cameron (and unfortunately, Roland Emmerich, too) have kept striving to capture on screen - the sublime, the unimaginable, the terrifying. Animated by stop-motion, (cutting edge for its day), Kong is the Hollywood monster all others wish to be - he even takes down a T-Rex! But leaving aside my childish joy, I can complain that the pre-historic animal fight scenes were a bit extraneous and stretched the movie out longer than it needed to be. It's a small knock on a film for the ages, though. I watched it on Turner Classic, and before it started Ben Mankiewicz said this was the first film for which a score was composed (all previous used other music). It's worth noting because the music is as big a part of the thrill from this movie as any other, setting the pace and quickening your pulse as the story ticks along. Also, the film contains one of the best foreshadows you'll ever see, when Ann (the novice actress) is practicing screaming for the tests. It gives you goosebumps before you arrive on the island and the intrigue begins for real. The scenes with the natives are absolutely riveting, and the effects, though rough, are surprisingly good, allowing for an expressive monster when we finally meet him. In all, it's an age-old story, one of the greater ones ever told, and as soon as enough time has passed, we could probably put it into the class of "archetype." Visionary, brilliant film that should never be forgotten, and essential viewing for anyone who claims to enjoy movies.
November 10, 2012
danperry17

Super Reviewer

The granddaddy of all the big budget special effects films and they are still pretty impressive today. The interesting part about this action/horror classic is that the real monster is the movie director and not the 50 foot ape.
October 31, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

King Kong feels no shame! Neither do we for the fact that this film is a classic.

Each remake of 1933's KING KONG (which stars Fay Wray as Ann Darrow) has lengthened the running time to an even longer point in order to add in more detail, dialogue, and action. (The 1976 remake was about two hours long, and the 2005 Peter Jackson re-imagination ran for a whole three hours, at least!) Quite seriously, I think the hour-and-forty-five-minute point at which this stands is long enough to add in enough legend.

Come 2013, this film will be eighty years old. And it's not dead yet: it still is famous; and it has its occasional offspring, whether good (PJ's '05 remake) or bad (KING KONG VS. GODZILLA). Whoever can have a spot in their mind just to hate this, I pity you. You have no bloody taste in a good classic, fool.
October 16, 2011
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

    1. Police Captain: Well, Denham, the airplanes got him.
    2. Carl Denham: Oh no, it was beauty killed the beast.
    – Submitted by Michael B (18 months ago)
    1. Carl Denham: No, it wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.
    – Submitted by Kirk C (20 months ago)
    1. Carl Denham: It was beauty killed the beast.
    – Submitted by Alex K (20 months ago)
    1. Ann Darrow: Do you always take the pictures you sell?
    2. Carl Denham: Ever since a trip I made to Africa. I'd have got a swell picture of a charging rhino, but the cameraman got scared. The darn fool, I was right there with a rifle! Seems he didn't trust me to get the rhino before it got him. I haven't fooled with a cameraman since; I do it myself.
    – Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
    1. Theater Patron: Hey, what's this show about, anyway?
    2. Theater Patron: I don't know - they say it's some big gorilla.
    3. Theater Patron: Oh, geez - ain't we got enough of them in New York?
    – Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
    1. Carl Denham: Don't be alarmed, ladies and gentlemen. Those chains are made of chrome steel.
    – Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
View all quotes (9)

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Foreign Titles

  • King King (1933) (UK)
  • King Kong (1933) (CA)
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