Incredibly famous and yet the most badly needed Hollywood Golden Age classic DVD release, King Kong also arrives in time for Thanksgiving. To a New Yorker growing up in the TV strangeland of the ’70s, the holiday meant one thing: giant ape movies. For some authentically twisted reason, one of the local stations (5, 9, or 11, back when they had local stations) would always air, year after year, King Kong (1933), Son of Kong (1933) and Mighty Joe Young (1949) from Thanksgiving noon to late dinnertime. In some households it was the Dallas Cowboys or the Macy’s parade, but in mine the day was filled with images of black-and-white stop-animated gorillas rampaging through the respective jungles of Skull Island and midtown Manhattan. Was this amazingly consistent programming perversion the work of one genius, and if so, who was he or she? Thanks to him/her, an entire generation will always pine over their turkey and yams for the roaring angst of lost simian rage, ass-whupping the grown-ups and yowling for our own damaged innocence. For years didn’t we all dimly remember that Kong was why the Third Avenue el came down? In fact, Kong comes in two DVD packagings: a designer tin gussied up with a replica program and postcards, and a three-way box with its ersatz sequels; the past isn’t past! Either way, the movie comes packed with commentaries (including one by Ray Harryhausen), interviews, a bio of Kong mastermind Merian C. Cooper, a massive making-of doc series, and original animation test footage.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 15, 2005