'King Kong': THR's 1933 Review
On March 2, 1933, Radio's epic production of King Kong, starring Fay Wray, made its world premiere in New York City. The Hollywood Reporter's original review of the film is below:
Picture to yourself a beast, larger than the largest you have ever seen, even in books, falling in love with a beautiful girl.
In protecting her, he literally wrecks the animal kingdom in which he lives. He kills first one monster, then another and another. He destroys practically an entire tribe of cannibals. Finally, he is captured and brought to New York for exhibition. He escapes, throws the city into a panic, scales high buildings, wrecks subways, always in search of or believing he is protecting the girl. If you can picture these things in your mind, you have a faint idea of King Kong.
It is a great piece of imagination, hatched in the brain of a showman for showmen, produced in grand style and good taste, and most capably acted and directed.
The story concerns a motion picture expedition into the wilds of an almost unheard-of island, seeking shots of a mighty beast (Kong), represented as being so large and so strong he could push over skyscrapers almost without effort.
On arriving at the island, the girl of the picture expedition (Fay Wray) is kidnapped by a tribe of natives and offered in tribute to the mighty Kong, hoping to appease his hunger and restrain his passion for wrecking their walls and killing off their people.
The hunt for and recovery of the girl by the picture troupe also brings the capture of Kong, whom the director (Robert Armstrong) believes will earn $1 million if placed on exhibition. He is brought to New York, escapes, throws the city into panic and is finally killed.
The yarn is a "beauty and the beast" story, done in an entirely different setting, with much of your sympathy going to the beast. Even though he kills off anything and everything that seeks to intrude on his romance with the beauty, when he is finally killed at the top of the Empire State Building in New York, by thousands of bullets from airplane guns, you almost have to choke down a tear for his passing.
Wray has never been more beautiful before the camera, nor acted as well as she does in this production. Armstrong, out of the villain class for the time being, is more than capable in the role of the director. Bruce Cabot, while not astonishing in his histrionic ability, does ably as the hero. All other members of the cast are well fitted to their parts and offer excellent support.
The production department of Radio can take deep bows for its work. The sets and locations added greatly to the realism of this fantastic story. — Staff review, originally published Feb. 14, 1933.