The Son of Kong


1h 10m 1933
The Son of Kong

Brief Synopsis

Producer Carl Denham returns to Skull Island in search of more monsters.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Jamboree
Genre
Adventure
Horror
Mystery
Sequel
Release Date
Dec 22, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Santa Catalina Island, California, United States; Santa Monica, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

Hounded by reporters, cited as a defendant in numerous lawsuits, and on the verge of being indicted by a grand jury for his involvement in the ill-fated promotion of King Kong, the giant ape, Carl Denham flees New York with his friend, Captain Englehorn, and sets sail for the East Indies. Unsuccessful in their try at the shipping business, Denham, Englehorn and their crew make a stop on the island of Dakang. There they meet pretty Helene Peterson, the sad-luck singer in a traveling show operated by her alcoholic father, and the treacherous Captain Helstrom, who is being investigated by local authorities for the mysterious destruction of his last ship. After Helstrom has a drunken fight with Helene's father, which results in a fire and the showman's death, Helene stows away on Denham's boat, unaware that it is bound for Kong's island. Lured back to the island by Helstrom's stories of hidden treasure, Denham, Helene, Englehorn and Charlie, the cook, are thrown off their boat by a mutinous crew, who have been egged on by the cowardly Helstrom. After reluctantly picking up Helstrom, who also is tossed overboard, the group reaches Kong's island in a dinghy, but is forced by the natives to land on the Skull Mountain side, where prehistoric creatures roam. While exploring the area, Denham and Helene find a baby-sized King Kong and, feeling guilty about the fate of his father, rescue him from a pool of quicksand. Son of Kong protects them from and does battle with various giant creatures, and they in turn bandage his wounded finger. With baby Kong's help, Denham and Helene find the natives' treasure, but at that moment, an earthquake hits and the group must quickly flee the self-destructing island. After Helstrom is killed by a hungry sea monster while stealing the dinghy, Denham is saved from drowning by little Kong, who dies nobly in the effort. Rescued by a passing ship, Helene then proposes to the treasure-enriched Denham.

Film Details

Also Known As
Jamboree
Genre
Adventure
Horror
Mystery
Sequel
Release Date
Dec 22, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Santa Catalina Island, California, United States; Santa Monica, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

Son of Kong


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).
BW-70m.

by Jeff Stafford

Son Of Kong

Son of Kong

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). BW-70m. by Jeff Stafford

The Son of Kong - New to DVD!


Upon its release in 1933, King Kong immediately became a pop culture phenomenon. Within a few months, Walt Disney had already parodied the film in the Mickey Mouse short The Pet Store, and before the year was over a sequel to the original film appeared, The Son of Kong. Much of the talent from the first film returned - producer Merian C. Cooper, director Ernest B. Shoedsack, screenwriter Ruth Rose, stop motion animator Willis O'Brien, composer Max Steiner, etc.—but the epic scope, freshness and sense of danger that made the original so memorable are largely missing. Instead, The Son of Kong is a modest production more about the human characters than giant apes or dinosaurs. With its short running time, it feels at times more like an extended epilog than a true sequel. Although dismissed by some as an unworthy follow-up, the film has a charm of its own that can be enjoyed on Warner Home Video's handsome new DVD.

The story: Inundated by lawsuits and about to be indicted by a grand jury in the wake of King Kong's rampage through Manhattan, Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) flees New York with the help of his loyal friend Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher). The two sail the Venture to Dakang, where they run into Nils Helstrom (John Marston), the Norwegian skipper who gave Denham the map to Skull Island, Kong's home. Anxious to leave Dutch jurisdiction, Helstrom tells Denham and Englehorn a tale of a fabulous treasure hidden on Skull Island, and the three men agree to mount an expedition. At sea, the crew discovers another new passenger: Hilda (Helen Mack), a recently orphaned young woman whom Denham had befriended in Dakang. She is disturbed to see Helstrom on board, for he is responsible for her father's death. Worried that he will be turned in to the authorities at the first port, Helstrom incites a mutiny and has Denham, Englehorn, Hilda and Charlie the cook (Victor Wong) put off the ship near Skull Island, only to find himself tossed overboard as well by the rebellious crew. On the island, Denham is astonished to discover a 12-foot tall albino ape - The Son of Kong. Feeling guilty over Kong's death, he rescues the little one from some quicksand, and finds himself with a grateful simian bodyguard protecting him from the myriad dangers that lurk in the jungle.

Given King Kong's enormous box office success, it is not surprising that RKO chose to make a sequel; what is perhaps surprising is that they chose to make it a modestly budgeted, rushed affair running a scant 69 minutes. The reasons are simple. Kong may have been a big hit that saved the studio, but it was a costly film that took a long time to make because of the elaborate effects work. It was also a highly unusual film; would audiences care for another, similar movie, or was it a one-time novelty? Since none of the other studios attempted their own stop-motion giant monster epic, Hollywood must have felt that Kong was something of a fluke. With no one willing to gamble that Kong's success could be duplicated, the sequel inevitably became a cheap attempt to cash in while the original was still fresh in the public consciousness.

Lacking the budget for a sprawling adventure, The Son of Kong's script limits the big effects scenes to the film's final third, and puts its emphasis on romance and humor instead of thrills. In the original Kong, the viewer doesn't mind waiting for the delayed entrance of the title character because the film does a good job creating mystery and suspense over what is to be found on Skull Island, and what the mysterious "Kong" might be. In Son, there's no mystery and little suspense. In the opening scenes Denham and Englehorn are just drifting aimlessly, and at times it feels as if the plot is doing the same. Shoedsack manages to inject a bit of atmosphere into the Dakang sequences in spite of the modest backlot sets, but overall the opening half of the film feels padded, as if the filmmakers are desperately trying to generate enough footage to qualify as a feature. A lot of screen time is spent establishing Hilda, her problems and her romance with Denham. Helen Mack is cute and charming in the role, but this material feels like it belongs in a "B" melodrama, not a King Kong sequel. When our heroes at last reach Skull Island, hope that the original's sense of wonder will return quickly fade when the title character is introduced and played for laughs. At one point Little Kong even does a Stan Laurel-like "take", looking at the camera, scratching his head and shrugging his shoulders.

Although it's easy to find The Son of Kong disappointing, it's also a hard film to dislike. It's lightweight, breezy, and reunites us some old friends from King Kong. As embodied by Robert Armstrong, Carl Denham is a very appealing lead character. He never lets himself be defeated by his troubles. In spite of having lost everything, he's willing to believe that something better is always waiting around the next corner if one is willing to go look for it. (His attitude is all the more admirable when one remembers that the film was made in the depths of the Great Depression.) He may seem more than a little naïve when he falls for Helstrom's treasure story, but we like his adventurous spirit.

Skull Island may lack the mystique here that it had in the first film, but it's still a fun place to revisit for devoted Kong fans. (A sense of nostalgia can help one forgive many a weakness in a film.) Prehistoric menaces encountered this time consist of a Styracosaurus (cut out of the original film, but given a second shot at stardom here), a cave bear, a fanciful dragon-like dinosaur (misidentified as a brontosaurus in the DVD chapter menus) and a sea monster. The effects work may not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but the stop-motion animation is technically very accomplished and still enthralling fun to watch. The best action sequence is little Kong's fight with the cave bear, a fast-paced battle featuring pro wrestler-type moves. The dragon-monster is a more colorful opponent and sure to be a favorite with kids, but the scene tends to remind one of the superior Kong-Allosaurus fight in the original. As for little Kong himself, one may wince at the decision to make him a comic figure, but O'Brien and his crew invest him with a great deal of character. His childlike curiosity comes across particularly well, as when he cautiously peeks in on Denham and Hilda cuddling by a campfire. The overall excellence of the effects is even more impressive when one considers the rushed production schedule, and the fact that O'Brien suffered a personal tragedy during the making of the film: his ex-wife shot and killed their two sons. There is an oft-reprinted photo of the great animator taken during the making of The Son of Kong in which his face is etched with inexpressible sorrow. There is a prominent tear in the photo; O'Brien ripped it in half because he couldn't stand to look at it.

Over time, King Kong became a victim of its own success, with film elements becoming lost or damaged. Less popular and thus not subjected to endless reissues, The Son of Kong has survived the years in better condition, and Warner Home Video's DVD looks and sounds excellent for a film of this vintage. The only special feature is a dupey and tattered theatrical trailer. The disc is available by itself, or as part of the King Kong Collection along with the original and Mighty Joe Young.

For more information about The Son of Kong, visit Warner Video.

by Gary Teetzel

The Son of Kong - New to DVD!

Upon its release in 1933, King Kong immediately became a pop culture phenomenon. Within a few months, Walt Disney had already parodied the film in the Mickey Mouse short The Pet Store, and before the year was over a sequel to the original film appeared, The Son of Kong. Much of the talent from the first film returned - producer Merian C. Cooper, director Ernest B. Shoedsack, screenwriter Ruth Rose, stop motion animator Willis O'Brien, composer Max Steiner, etc.—but the epic scope, freshness and sense of danger that made the original so memorable are largely missing. Instead, The Son of Kong is a modest production more about the human characters than giant apes or dinosaurs. With its short running time, it feels at times more like an extended epilog than a true sequel. Although dismissed by some as an unworthy follow-up, the film has a charm of its own that can be enjoyed on Warner Home Video's handsome new DVD. The story: Inundated by lawsuits and about to be indicted by a grand jury in the wake of King Kong's rampage through Manhattan, Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) flees New York with the help of his loyal friend Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher). The two sail the Venture to Dakang, where they run into Nils Helstrom (John Marston), the Norwegian skipper who gave Denham the map to Skull Island, Kong's home. Anxious to leave Dutch jurisdiction, Helstrom tells Denham and Englehorn a tale of a fabulous treasure hidden on Skull Island, and the three men agree to mount an expedition. At sea, the crew discovers another new passenger: Hilda (Helen Mack), a recently orphaned young woman whom Denham had befriended in Dakang. She is disturbed to see Helstrom on board, for he is responsible for her father's death. Worried that he will be turned in to the authorities at the first port, Helstrom incites a mutiny and has Denham, Englehorn, Hilda and Charlie the cook (Victor Wong) put off the ship near Skull Island, only to find himself tossed overboard as well by the rebellious crew. On the island, Denham is astonished to discover a 12-foot tall albino ape - The Son of Kong. Feeling guilty over Kong's death, he rescues the little one from some quicksand, and finds himself with a grateful simian bodyguard protecting him from the myriad dangers that lurk in the jungle. Given King Kong's enormous box office success, it is not surprising that RKO chose to make a sequel; what is perhaps surprising is that they chose to make it a modestly budgeted, rushed affair running a scant 69 minutes. The reasons are simple. Kong may have been a big hit that saved the studio, but it was a costly film that took a long time to make because of the elaborate effects work. It was also a highly unusual film; would audiences care for another, similar movie, or was it a one-time novelty? Since none of the other studios attempted their own stop-motion giant monster epic, Hollywood must have felt that Kong was something of a fluke. With no one willing to gamble that Kong's success could be duplicated, the sequel inevitably became a cheap attempt to cash in while the original was still fresh in the public consciousness. Lacking the budget for a sprawling adventure, The Son of Kong's script limits the big effects scenes to the film's final third, and puts its emphasis on romance and humor instead of thrills. In the original Kong, the viewer doesn't mind waiting for the delayed entrance of the title character because the film does a good job creating mystery and suspense over what is to be found on Skull Island, and what the mysterious "Kong" might be. In Son, there's no mystery and little suspense. In the opening scenes Denham and Englehorn are just drifting aimlessly, and at times it feels as if the plot is doing the same. Shoedsack manages to inject a bit of atmosphere into the Dakang sequences in spite of the modest backlot sets, but overall the opening half of the film feels padded, as if the filmmakers are desperately trying to generate enough footage to qualify as a feature. A lot of screen time is spent establishing Hilda, her problems and her romance with Denham. Helen Mack is cute and charming in the role, but this material feels like it belongs in a "B" melodrama, not a King Kong sequel. When our heroes at last reach Skull Island, hope that the original's sense of wonder will return quickly fade when the title character is introduced and played for laughs. At one point Little Kong even does a Stan Laurel-like "take", looking at the camera, scratching his head and shrugging his shoulders. Although it's easy to find The Son of Kong disappointing, it's also a hard film to dislike. It's lightweight, breezy, and reunites us some old friends from King Kong. As embodied by Robert Armstrong, Carl Denham is a very appealing lead character. He never lets himself be defeated by his troubles. In spite of having lost everything, he's willing to believe that something better is always waiting around the next corner if one is willing to go look for it. (His attitude is all the more admirable when one remembers that the film was made in the depths of the Great Depression.) He may seem more than a little naïve when he falls for Helstrom's treasure story, but we like his adventurous spirit. Skull Island may lack the mystique here that it had in the first film, but it's still a fun place to revisit for devoted Kong fans. (A sense of nostalgia can help one forgive many a weakness in a film.) Prehistoric menaces encountered this time consist of a Styracosaurus (cut out of the original film, but given a second shot at stardom here), a cave bear, a fanciful dragon-like dinosaur (misidentified as a brontosaurus in the DVD chapter menus) and a sea monster. The effects work may not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but the stop-motion animation is technically very accomplished and still enthralling fun to watch. The best action sequence is little Kong's fight with the cave bear, a fast-paced battle featuring pro wrestler-type moves. The dragon-monster is a more colorful opponent and sure to be a favorite with kids, but the scene tends to remind one of the superior Kong-Allosaurus fight in the original. As for little Kong himself, one may wince at the decision to make him a comic figure, but O'Brien and his crew invest him with a great deal of character. His childlike curiosity comes across particularly well, as when he cautiously peeks in on Denham and Hilda cuddling by a campfire. The overall excellence of the effects is even more impressive when one considers the rushed production schedule, and the fact that O'Brien suffered a personal tragedy during the making of the film: his ex-wife shot and killed their two sons. There is an oft-reprinted photo of the great animator taken during the making of The Son of Kong in which his face is etched with inexpressible sorrow. There is a prominent tear in the photo; O'Brien ripped it in half because he couldn't stand to look at it. Over time, King Kong became a victim of its own success, with film elements becoming lost or damaged. Less popular and thus not subjected to endless reissues, The Son of Kong has survived the years in better condition, and Warner Home Video's DVD looks and sounds excellent for a film of this vintage. The only special feature is a dupey and tattered theatrical trailer. The disc is available by itself, or as part of the King Kong Collection along with the original and Mighty Joe Young. For more information about The Son of Kong, visit Warner Video. by Gary Teetzel

Quotes

Stick with me and you'll be wearing diamonds.
- Carl Denham
Hey, she's got something there.
- Carl Denham
It certainly isn't a voice!
- Captain

Trivia

Recordings of Fay Wray's screams from King Kong (1933) were used in this movie.

One of the scenes involving pterodactyls flying in the far background was matted into _"Citizen Kane" (1941)_ during the scene where Kane and "friends" make for the beach from Xanadu - this was done to saved production costs on "Kane".

The name for "Little Kong" was Kiko, though it was never used.

Notes

The working title of this film was Jamboree. Although most reviews and other sources refer to the title as Son of Kong, the actual onscreen title is The Son of Kong. In addition, although the onscreen credits of the original release print, as recorded in a studio cutting continuity, list Helen Mack's character name as "Hilda," she is called "Helene" in the film. In later prints of the film, Mack's onscreen character credit is listed as "Helene," while Robert Armstrong's character credit is listed as "Carl," Frank Reicher's as "Skipper" and Victor Wong's as "Charlie." Production on The Son of Kong, a sequel to RKO's 1933 film King Kong, began immediately after the hugely successful release of its predecessor. Many of the animation techniques, including stop-action and miniature rear projection, used in King Kong were also employed in this film. Exteriors for the film were shot on Santa Catalina Island, off the Southern California coast, and the Santa Monica pier near Los Angeles, according to studio production files. According to modern sources, recordings of Fay Wray's screaming from King Kong were re-used in this production, as were parts of Max Steiner's King Kong score. Modern sources add the following names to the crew: Special Effects, Harry Redmond, Jr.; Assoc sd eff, Walter G. Elliott; Cameramen, Bert Willis, Linwood Dunn, Clifford Stine and Felix Schoedsack; Set decorations, Thomas Little; Costumes, Walter Plunkett; Makeup Supervisor, Mel Burns; Williams process supv, Frank Williams; Dunning process supv, Carroll Dunning and C. Dodge Dunning. Although some modern sources contend that The Son of Kong was a re-working of a 1927 Tiffany film, The Enchanted Island, starring Henry B. Walthall and Charlotte Stevens (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.1528), the two plot lines are only superficially similar. For information concerning the animation techniques used in the production and other films featuring the "King Kong" character, listing for King Kong.