King Kong

1933

King Kong

Critics Consensus

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.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 57

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 90,021
User image

King Kong Photos

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. Disembarking at Skull Island, they stumble on a ceremony in which the native dancers circle around a terrified-looking young girl, chanting, "Kong! Kong!" The chief (Noble Johnson) and witch doctor (Steve Clemente) spot Denham and company and order them to leave. But upon seeing Ann, the chief offers to buy the "golden woman" to serve as the "bride of Kong." Denham refuses, and he and the others beat a hasty retreat to their ship. Late that night, a party of native warriors sneak on board the ship and kidnap Ann. They strap her to a huge sacrificial altar just outside the gate, then summon Kong, who winds up saving Ann instead of devouring her. Kong is eventually taken back to New York, where he breaks loose on the night of his Broadway premiere, thinking that his beloved Ann is being hurt by the reporters' flash bulbs. Now at large in New York, Kong searches high and low for Ann (in another long-censored scene, he plucks a woman from her high-rise apartment, then drops her to her death when he realizes she isn't the girl he's looking for). After proving his devotion by wrecking an elevated train, Kong winds up at the top of the Empire State Building, facing off against a fleet of World War I fighter planes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Watch it now

Cast

Fay Wray
as Ann Darrow
Robert Armstrong
as Carl Denham
Bruce Cabot
as John Driscoll
Sam Hardy
as Charles Weston
Frank Reicher
as Capt. Englehorn
Noble Johnson
as Native Chief
Steve Clemente
as Witch King
James Flavin
as 2nd Mate Briggs
Paul Porcasi
as Socrates
Russ Powell
as Dock Watchman
Sandra Shaw
as Woman Dropped by Kong
Roscoe Ates
as Photographer
Victor Wong
as Charley
Vera Lewis
as Theater Patron
LeRoy Mason
as Theater Patron
Frank Mills
as Reporter
Lynton Brent
as Reporter
Jim Thorpe
as Native Dancer
George MacQuarrie
as Police Captain
Etta McDaniel
as Native Woman
Russell Powell
as Dock Watchman
Mme. Sul Te Wan
as Handmaiden
Eric Wood
as Pilot
Merian C. Cooper
as Flight Commander
Ernest B. Schoedsack
as Chief Observer
View All

News & Interviews for King Kong

Critic Reviews for King Kong

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (12)

Audience Reviews for King Kong

  • Mar 08, 2017
    King Kong is a character that has been retold and re-imagined so many different times that it should feel tiresome and worn out. But one can't truly scold the property until he's seen the original piece. So in preparation for Kong: Skull Island, I've decided to take a look at the film that started it all. The 1933 King Kong film is dated, and I understand that. But I don't think there's any question how important this film was to cinema. It's groundbreaking use of stop-motion was unmatched at the time and left a huge mark in that style's legacy. I genuinely wasn't sure how they pulled off some of the stunts and animations. Sure, it's not always crisp, but there's nothing quite like it. Because I've seen other iterations of the famed giant ape, I know where the story ultimately goes. But I never found that to be distracting. How did the original treat Ann Darrow? Or Carl Denham? Did they make Kong out to be more of an anti-hero or straight menacing? These were questions I found myself wondering, and surprisingly enough, not everything is the same in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake. Perhaps a product of the time, but Darrow is treated much more like a damsel in distress than a real human being. I think she did more screaming and crying than she actually spoke words. Maybe monster movies aren't always the destination for well-told character dramas, but there didn't seem to be much of an effort to develop the humans at all. It is those humans, however, that should take all of the heat for the events of the film. Just like in most monster movies, it's the humans who go looking for trouble and seem frustratingly stunned when they eventually do find it. I can only hope that Skull Island treats that situation with more care than most monster pictures do. The 1933 King Kong film isn't just another monster picture though. Just because I saw this nearly 85 years later doesn't mean I can't appreciate all that this film did for the genre. Great pacing, groundbreaking special effects, and a ton of action make for an entertaining experience. An experience unlike anything else I have seen before. +Effects +Holds a legacy unlike any other monster film -Characters don't always act like humans. 8.3/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 31, 2016
    There are several things that could be ridiculed about this movie - the stop-motion special effects of course, though they were state of the art for their day, the stereotypical natives (and Chinese cook), and besides all that, Fay Wray's goofy reaction when she's told by a sailor he loves her (my goodness on the acting, take a look at it someday). There are also definite racial overtones to the movie. It's as if Kong is just a giant version of one of the 'black savages' on the island. He has a forbidden love for a white woman. Captured, he is taken back to America, where he'll make the white men rich, so long as he is in chains. Set loose, he rampages through New York violently. Clearly, he would have been better off left back in the jungle where he belongs. However, forgiving the movie a bit, it's still quite compelling because of its action sequences. Cooper and Schoedsack tell a taut story with the right blend of build-up and action, and make the island far more interesting by having it full of dangers besides Kong himself. The pursuers are attacked by a stegosaurus (which they somewhat comically shoot the hell out of), and later a sauropod in the sea, which overturns their raft and chomps a couple of them (apparently the filmmakers were unaware of these dinosaurs being herbivores). Kong himself has to battle a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a giant snake (which fantastically wraps around his neck), and a pterodactyl trying to make off with Fay Wray. Who can forget him killing the T-Rex by bending its jaw and neck back until their broken? Or turning the log bridge around to shake men off, sending them plummeting to their death? Or reaching his paw down into the cave, trying to catch a guy who has made his way down there? (the guy, by the way, has to cut a rope to save himself from a lizard creeping up from below at the same time). There is plenty of violence that must have been shocking in its day. Kong literally stomps on natives and crushes a few people in his mouth. He also drops a woman out of a skyscraper after determining she's not Fay Wray and discards her. As for some sex to go with that violence, Fay Wray provides it with a braless scene on the boat, her legs wriggling after Kong has partially undressed her, and a split-second wardrobe malfunction after she plummets into the water while escaping him. I'm not sure I buy the Empire State Building being a giant phallic symbol though. This is a movie that stands the test of time, despite how dated the effects are. They have campy appeal, and are still somehow cool. We feel Kong's pain as he's chained, and empathize with him as the airplanes swoop in at the end. This is a beauty and the beast type film, but I don't think it was beauty that truly killed the beast, as the movie's last line states, I think it was all those guys with their guns and greed.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 16, 2015
    "King Kong" is an very entertaining action and adventure film. "King Kong" has pretty good acting mostly from "Fay Wray", "Robert Armstrong" and "Frank Reicher". "King Kong" has some of cinema's best thrilling music of all time. Finally "King Kong" does not have the best special effects, but the special effects of this movie are still okay to today's standards. "King Kong" will always remain a classic action/adventure film. And I will recommend this to anyone who likes classics. I give "King Kong" a 8.5/10.
    Steve G Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2014
    Merian C. Cooper presents King Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World. When celebrated filmmaker Carl Denham goes in search of a legendary creature on a secret island he and his team end up on a fantastical adventure. It's a fairly simple story that structures itself around a Beauty & the Beast theme, and this works in giving the film a certain old fashion charm. Additionally, the actions scenes are incredibly well-done, making for some exciting and iconic moments; such as Kong battling airplanes on the Empire State Building. Also, the film uses some interesting techniques that are able to blend stop-motion and live-action into the same scenes; creating a spectacular visual spectacle. Truly a wonder, King Kong stands as a cinematic classic that continues to thrill audiences.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

King Kong Quotes

News & Features