King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

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Image godzilla-movies.com

“No more!  I am SICK of Godzilla!”

The ultimate giant monster dream match, this movie saw Godzilla do battle with the Western monster that defined a genre, the great Kong himself!  The movie had its roots in an idea hatched by Willis O’Brian, the stop motion animator for the original “King Kong”.  O’Brian wanted Kong to battle a giant version of Frankenstein, and shopped the idea around to various studios.  He secured the help of producer John Beck, who had a few script treatments made up and eventually took the idea overseas to Toho studios.  The studio was eager to produce a Kong movie, and suggested replacing Frankenstein with Godzilla.  Beck sold the idea to Toho and work began on the project almost immediately (sadly, O’Brian wasn’t credited for his idea.)  The movie was released in time to be used for Toho’s 30th anniversary celebration. Director Ishiro Honda and special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya were eager to return, as both were huge fans of King Kong.

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Image technologytell.com

Pacific Pharmaceuticals, a Japanese company headed by Mr. Taro, has fallen on hard times.  The TV shows they are sponsoring are not doing well ratings-wise, and the company is losing money.  Mr. Taro believes a monster would help gain publicity for the company, and believes he has found his creature from stories of faraway Faro Island.  He dispatches his two yes-men, Sakurai and Kinsaburo, to retrieve the monster.  Meanwhile, the US submarine Seahawk crashes into a wayward iceberg, releasing Godzilla.  The mutant makes his way to a nearby Arctic base and lays waste to it.  The incident garners much publicity, to the annoyance of Mr. Taro (see the page quote).  The two men make their way to Faro Island and impress the natives with the modern wonders of radio and cigarettes.  That night, a giant octopus attacks the village, but King Kong reveals himself and chases it off.  While celebrating, Kong drinks some juice the locals had made out of berries grown on the island, becomes drunk, and falls asleep.  Sakurai and Kinsaburo tie Kong up with some super-strong wire of Sakurai’s own invention and Kong is shipped to Japan.

He breaks out, of course, and Kong and Godzilla meet and do battle.  Kong eventually retreats and Godzilla continues his rampage.  Electrical wires are set up (with a higher voltage than used in the first movie), and they seem to repel Godzilla, but Kong appears and seems to draw strength from the electricity.  He then attacks a train and, in typical Kong fashion, falls for a woman on board and kidnaps her.  This woman just happens to be Sakurai’s sister and Kinsaburo’s girlfriend.  The pair remember the juice from Faro Island, and bombs full of the juice are created and used to put Kong to sleep.  Kong is then tied to giant balloons and sent toward Godzilla.  He wakes and the fight resumes.  It seems Godzilla has the upper hand, but a lightning storm appears and Kong draws power from the lightning.  The pair fight violently, destroying Atami Castle in the process, until both monsters fall into the Pacific Ocean.  After the water calms, Kong resurfaces and swims off into the distance.  Whether he has defeated Godzilla and is leaving in triumph, or if he is retreating from Godzilla, has been a source of much contention to this day.

“King Kong vs. Godzilla” was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw, and it remains a fun movie.  The premise sounds like any fanboy argument come true, and it is fun to see the two titans do battle (for the hardcore, it should be remembered that this was only Godzilla’s third movie, and he hadn’t evolved into the nigh-invincible alien-destroying wrecking ball he was in later movies, King Kong wasn’t that underpowered at this point.)  Unfortunately, the experience is marred a bit by the unnecessary additions to the American version.  The action is occasionally broken up while a news reporter and some “scientists” comment on Godzilla and Kong’s origins and the goings on in Japan.  At the end of the movie, one of these supposed men of science suggests that Godzilla, a creature that lives underwater, has drowned.  I question their scientific credentials.  Many of the scenes cut for these additions were comedic scenes featuring the hapless human characters attempting to cash in on Kong’s appearance.  Sadly, the original, unedited version has never been released in America, and due to complicated rights issues between Universal and Toho, it is unlikely to happen any time soon.  Even with these additions, however, the movie is still enjoyable, and is a definite must-see for fans of Kong and Godzilla alike!

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Image monsterislandnews.com

Trivia

There is no truth to the belief that Kong wins the battle in the American version and Godzilla wins the Japanese version.  The ending is the same in both versions.

Mie Hama, who played Kong’s love interest Fumiko, later went on to be Sean Connery’s love interest as a Bond Girl in 1967’s “You Only Live Twice”.

Eiji Tsuburaya had been wanting to create a film with a giant octopus for some time.  Four live octopi were used for the scenes in this movie, with jets of hot air used to move them along the miniatures.  Three of them were released after filming.  The fourth became Eiji Tsuburaya’s dinner.

Adjusted for inflation, this is the highest grossing Godzilla movie.

This was the first time both Kong and Godzilla appeared in color.

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Image blackgate.com

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~ by Chris on April 20, 2014.

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