“No one cry when JAWS die. But when the monkey die, people gonna cry. Intellectuals gonna love Kong; even film buffs who love the first Kong gonna love ours. Why? Because I give them no crap. I no spend two, three million to do quick business. I spend 24 million on my Kong. I give them quality. I got here a great love story, a great adventure. And she rated PG. For everybody.” .
— Dino De Laurentiis / TIME Magazine ’76
I remember the pre-release publicity blitzkrieg for Dino De Laurentiis’ much ballyhooed remake hitting big in the fall of ’76, mostly because I remember the back to school shopping where I pitched one helluva fit to get a tablet with a picture of a royally pissed off Kong shredding through a giant wall.
I had no idea who John Berkey was back then, but I think we can all agree that if the finished product had turned out just half as good as his promotional artwork, we’d all probably have fonder memories of the 1976 version of King Kong instead of the lingering aftertaste of the giant turd-burger it turned out to be. But the eternal question still remains: Just what the hell is that smoldering thing Kong is holding in his other hand? It started life as a jet, right?
Anyhooo … Over the subsequent years since I finally saw its broadcast premiere as a movie of the week, my feelings on this film have softened a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still no damned good but it can be watched and enjoyed and celebrated for its myriad of faults. From Jessica Lange’s vapid Dwan, to Jeff Bridges’ proto-Dude, to Lorenzo Semple’s groan inducing, male chauvinist pig ape script, to the Big D’s failure to deliver the goods, F/X wise, and Rick Baker’s noble but ultimately futile attempts to bail them all out, one can only watch and boggle at how bad it is. Yeah, I’m still a little bitter and peeved about the lack of other monsters on Skull Island. I mean…
What? A giant snake? That’s it?
Where the @#%* were the dinosaurs? He’s supposed to wrassle dinosaurs, not a giant phallic symbol! You already covered that at the wall with that big greasy pole and the giant glory hole made of reeds and palm fronds! Okay, maybe I’m still a whole lot of bitter and peeved about that.
Ah well, at least I’ll always have my Burger King collectible glasses.
King Kong (1976) Dino De Laurentiis Company :: Paramount Pictures / EP: Federico De Laurentiis, Christian Ferry / P: Dino De Laurentiis / D: John Guillermin / W: Lorenzo Semple Jr. / C: Richard H. Kline / E: Ralph E. Winters / M: John Barry / S: Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Rene Auberjonois, Julius Harris, Ed Lauter