King Kong (1976): So-So Remake of the 1933 Classic Starring Bridges and Jessica Lange

Producer Dino De Laurentiis made this big-budget remake of the classic 1933 picture King Kong.

John Guillermin, who made the disaster blockbuster The Towering Inferno in 1974, directs from a workable (but not great) script written by Lorenzo Semple Jr.

Updated to the 1970s, Robert Armstrong character is now Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin), a big-shot oil magnate from Petrox Oil, looking for new petroleum deposits on a recently discovered Pacific island.

Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) is a counter-culture paleontologist, stowing away on Wilson’s ship, who warns that they are headed for “Skull Island,” where prehistoric monsters still live and roam free.

Dwan (Jessica Lange, in her film debut) is a down-on-her-luck starlet, shipwrecked in the ocean after the sinking of a yacht. When the group lands on the island, the giant ape Kong is smitten and kidnaps her. The ape tries to remove her clothes by shouting, “You male chauvinist ape!” But Prescott comes to her aid and rescues her from the gorilla.

Wilson, seeing money to be made on Kong, locks him in the cargo hold of his ship and transports him to New York City. Once there, Kong escapes and wreaks havoc upon the beleaguered town, before climbing up the World Trade Center for shelter (in the original film it was the Empire State Building).

Peter Jackson remade the 1933 classic in 2005 with Jack Black and Naomi Watts.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Cinematography: Richard H. Kline

Sound: Harry Warren Tetrick, William McCaughey, Aaron Rochin, and Jack Solomon

Oscar Awards:

Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects: Carlo Rambaldi, Glen Robinson, Frank Van Der Veer



Running time: 134 minutes.

Directed by John Guillermin

Released: December 17, 1976

DVD: July 27, 1999