I re-watched King Kong today and it’s still as impressive as the first time.
One thing that impresses me about this film is how risqué some scenes are. There’s plenty of people being chewed by Kong, people being trampled in the mud, people falling into pits (complete with Dopplerized screaming sound effects) people being thrown from tall buildings. One dumb sailor climbs a tree stump and gets snatched out of it by a dinosaur. Even though most of the times you can see it’s a doll the size of your finger, in the heat of the action it’s as effective as a modern special effect. Not to mention all those shots of braless Fay Wray, specially lit to leave little to the imagination, or a frankly gratuitous scene where Kong undresses her with perverted glee while sniffing his fingers. The charitable interpretation is that it was a display of technical trickery done flawlessly.
Of course, it’s not all roses.
The plot and actors are perfunctory at best. Carl Denham has the best lines, Ann and Jack are practically sideshows even though they are top-billed and much of the plot sits on their supposed romance. Ann is not much more than a trophy for the other elements: Kong selects her over all other native woman, Carl wants a pretty face to put butts in seats, and Jack has been alone on a boat with loads of other guys for most of his life.
Taken as a whole, and discounting some weaker points that come with the fact that this film is over 80 years old, it lost no charm and it remains one of the finest uses of celluloid I have ever seen.