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King Kong vs Godzilla

King Kong vs Godzilla, 1962

King Kong vs Godzilla DVD coverNo one will mistake  King Kong vs Godzilla for high art — and that’s fine; it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than enjoyable silliness. It’s two men in rubber suits, fighting in choreographed style — shades of professional wrestling. The movie has a comically foolish executive decide to use King Kong for advertising.  And he decides to bring the real deal to Tokyo. At roughly the same time, Godzilla is released from an icy tomb and heads back to Tokyo for the inevitable slugfest.

Although the two monsters are roughly evenly matched, Godzilla clearly has an advantage in long range attacks with his atomic breath.  And so, the producers give Kong a brand-new ability.  Both drawing power from lightning, and being able to attack with it.

As I say, it’s enjoyable fare, light and silly and fun — excellent for a rainy Saturday morning.

Editorial review of King Kong vs Godzilla, courtesy of Amazon.com

The two mightiest monsters of all time battle in the thrilling adventure classic, King Kong vs. Godzilla. When an underhanded pharmaceutical company goes to a remote tropical island to steal King Kong for advertising purposes, they get more than they bargained for when the gigantic ape attacks an unsuspecting village and an enormous octopus. Meanwhile, far below the sea, a submarine crew unleashes reptilian terror when they melt a block of ice and release the ferocious Godzilla from his icy lair. When both destructive monsters descend on Tokyo, it’s a fight that holds the future of mankind in the balance in this knock-out film that was the first theatrical release to bring its larger-than-life contenders to the big screen in glorious color.

Trivia for  King Kong vs Godzilla

  • There were four live octopuses used in the fight sequence with Kong and the natives, as well as a plastic model.  Hot air was blown on them to get them to move and after the filming of the scene was finished, most of them were released except for one.  Which Eiji Tsuburaya had for dinner.
  • The film features the Davy Crockett, a portable missile-launched nuclear weapon developed by the United States. At the time, this weapon was still classified.
  • Another way to tone down Godzilla’s darkness from the previous two movies, the monster’s roar has a much higher pitch to it. For the remainder of the Showa series, this remained Godzilla’s roar.
  • The idea for this movie was spawned by Willis O’Brien, who had done the special effects for King Kong (1933). In the late 1950s, he tried to drum up interest in a sequel to be titled King Kong vs. Frankenstein. The Frankenstein would have been a giant monster created from different animals. Unable to find an American studio interested in the project, producer John Beck offered the idea to Toho who replaced Frankenstein with Godzilla.
  • This film marks a number of firsts for King Kong and Godzilla films.  It was the first time either King Kong and Godzilla were filmed in color and the first time either filmed in wide-screen. This film was also the third film for both King Kong and Godzilla.  However, this film isn’t considered a sequel to the original King Kong or Son of Kong.
  • Originally, Honda had thought about using stop-motion animation instead of men in costumes, but due to budgetary concerns, those plans were scrapped.  However, there are a couple of scenes where the technique is used; first in the fight with the giant octopus as it grabs one of the natives and second in the second battle between Kong and Godzilla when Godzilla gives Kong a dropkick.
  • The comical businessman is named “Tako,” which means “octopus,” a recurring motif in the film both literally and figuratively.
  • Godzilla’s appearance greatly changed for his 1962 appearance in the first color movie: King Kong vs. Godzilla. King Kong vs. Godzilla was made more as a comedy film than having the “sense of terror” theme in the two previous movies. Because of that, Toho decided to make Godzilla less threatening. While some American posters of the previous two black and white Godzilla movies showed Godzilla as green, the Kingoji suit revealed Godzilla’s true color: charcoal gray. The previous two Godzilla suits were painted brown. On this suit, Godzilla’s ears were taken away, and instead of having four toes on each foot, Godzilla had three. The center dorsal fins were enlarged and the two side dorsal fins decreased in size. The body of Godzilla was bulkier than the last two suits. The head was made longer, and a slight frown was added to the side the mouth.  A feature that would be seen in some later suits. The pupils were enlarged, and the eyes sported a yellow-reddish color. The new features on Godzilla gave him an alligator-like appearance.
  • Promotional artwork pasted images of the classic 1933 Kong over images of the original Godzilla destroying Tokyo. Apparently, the publicity department thought the Kong suit used in the film looked too ridiculous to be used for advertising the movie!
  • Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya deliberately gave King Kong a semi-comical personality, because he did not want Kong to frighten young children.  He wanted the general audience to root for Kong over the more frightening Godzilla.
  • Although fans argue to this day, Toho has declared that King Kong was meant to win. Kong was much more popular than Godzilla at this time, and was the obvious choice to win audiences over.
  • During the final fight between King Kong and Godzilla, King Kong tries to shove a tree down Godzilla’s throat. This is a tribute to the fight between Kong and the Tyrannosaurs Rex from the original King Kong (1933).  A famous publicity still from that encounter shows Kong shoving a tree into the T-Rex’s mouth.