"Now you see it. You're amazed. You can't believe it. Your eyes open wider. It's horrible, but you can't look away. There's no chance for you. No escape. You're helpless, helpless. There's just one chance, if you can scream. Throw your arms across your eyes and scream, scream for your life!"
And scream Fay Wray does most famously in this monster classic, one of the greatest adventure films of all time, which even in an era of computer-generated wizardry remains a marvel of stop-motion animation. Robert Armstrong stars as famed adventurer Carl Denham, who is leading a "crazy voyage" to a mysterious, uncharted island to photograph "something monstrous ... neither beast nor man." Also aboard is waif Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and Bruce Cabot as big lug John Driscoll, the ship's first mate.
King Kong's first half-hour is steady going, with engagingly corny dialogue ("Some big, hard-boiled egg gets a look at a pretty face and bang, he cracks up and goes sappy") and ominous portent that sets the stage for the horror to come. Once our heroes reach Skull Island, the movie comes to roaring, chest-thumping, T. rex-slamming, snake-throttling, pterodactyl-tearing, native-stomping life. King Kong was ranked by the American Film Institute as among the 50 best films of the century. Kong making his last stand atop the Empire State Building is one of the movies' most indelible and iconic images. And this is the definitive video version: remastered from a pristine archival print, with previously censored scenes of Kong flossing with natives restored. Also restored is the curious scene in which Kong peels poor Fay's clothing like a banana and tickles her fancy. --Donald Liebenson