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The Son of Kong

The Son of Kong(1933)

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The Son of Kong (1933)

After the unprecedented success of King Kong (1933), it was only natural that RKO studios would rush a sequel into production to take advantage of the giant ape's popularity. The follow-up feature, Son of Kong (1934), picks up where the original film ended and has Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) returning to Skull Island where Kong was first sighted. Denham's motive for returning is a hidden treasure which could aid him in combating all the New York City lawsuits against him for Kong's destructive rampage. Instead, he finds a different kind of treasure - the son of Kong, a huge gorilla covered with white fur. Never mind that the original Kong was supposedly millions of years old and had no mate. But who wants logic in a film like this? Unlike his fifty foot dad, Kong junior is only 25 feet tall but this makes perfect sense when you realize the film's budget was less than half the production cost of King Kong.

Besides Robert Armstrong, Son of Kong also reunites the original director of King Kong - Ernest B. Schoedsack - with that film's special effects supervisor, Willis O'Brien. The stop-motion animation is no less impressive in this sequel and includes a brontosaurus, a stegosaurus, a sea monster, and other strange beasts. There's even an impressive earthquake at the climax but Son of Kong was unable to ape the success of the original. For one thing, the film lacks the menacing tone of its predecessor and more closely resembles a fairy tale with comic overtones except for the tragic ending. At any rate, the movie's poor boxoffice showing convinced RKO to abandon any more giant ape movies until Mighty Joe Young in 1949 which also starred Robert Armstrong in the lead with direction by Schoedsack and special effects by O'Brien.

Movie trivia fans should know that the original title of Son of Kong was Jamboree and that some sources claimed the movie was a reworking of The Enchanted Island, a 1927 feature starring Henry B. Walthall. Exteriors for the film were shot on Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California, and the Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles. Recordings of Fay Wray's screams and even parts of Max Steiner's music score from King Kong were also reused in this sequel.

Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Producer: Merian C. Cooper, Archie Marshek, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Screenplay: Ruth Rose
Cinematography: Edward Linden, J.O. Taylor, Vernon L. Walker
Music: Edward Eliscu, Max Steiner
Cast: Robert Armstrong (Carl Denham), Helen Mack (Hilda Petersen), Frank Reicher (Captain Englehorn), John Marston (Captain Nils Helstrom), Victor Wong (Charlie).

by Jeff Stafford

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