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Turner Classic Movies takes a special look back at the man who first concocted the idea of a giant gorilla on the rampage in New York: producer Merian C. Cooper. Filmmaker and cinema historian Kevin Brownlow, who has created documentary portraits of such screen icons as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, D.W. Griffith and Greta Garbo, tells the story of Cooper's adventure-filled life and creative endeavors in I'm King Kong! The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (2005), a TCM original documentary narrated by Oscar®-nominated actor Alec Baldwin (The Cooler).
I'm King Kong! The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (2005) looks at the life and career of the filmmaker/aviator/explorer/war hero described by Cooper curator James D'Arc as "the genuine Indiana Jones." The documentary features reflections from Cooper's colleagues and admirers including author Ray Bradbury, special effects artist Ray Harryhausen, actresses Fay Wray and Terry Moore, actor Harry Carey, Jr. and Cooper biographer Mark Cotta Vaz. Through interviews recorded on audiotape, we hear from Cooper himself and his longtime partner, Ernest B. Schoedsack. A dashing hero of World Wars I and II, Cooper (1893-1973) began in movies in the mid-1920s with documentaries for which he and Schoedsack undertook dangerous expeditions into exotic locales to photograph nomadic tribes, fierce warriors and wild animals.
After the sensation that was King Kong, Cooper became RKO's vice president in charge of production, then vice president of Selznick International Pictures. The documentary describes how he was influential in the early use of Technicolor and, later, formed a partnership with John Ford to co-produce many of that director's great Westerns. Cooper also was instrumental in the development of Cinerama and, in 1952, co-produced the first film made in that giant-screen format.
BW & C-60m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe