Robert Armstrong

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Mighty Joe Young (1949) Review


OK
16 years after King Kong, folks figured that people had forgotten what Kong's claymation effects looked like (hell, there'd been a World War in there!), so they figured they'd trot them out again. The story's about the same, too: A pet gorilla is brought back from Africa (this time with his owner/caretaker (Terry Moore), and exploited in a vaudeville act. In fact, this is the film's best moment, which gives us some drunks who first throw a bottle at Joe's head, then get him wasted. Other than that, the film is largely a retread that you may not find overly compelling.

The Son of Kong Review


Terrible
Quicky sequels are rarely pretty. Son of Kong, rushed out the same year as the inimitable King Kong, proves the point. As cheap as the original was, this sequel is exponentially cheaper. It's also ridiculously lacking in the story department (explorer Carl Denham returns to Kong's home island to escape the fallout of, you know, a giant monkey destroying New York, only to discover, you guessed it, the son of Kong -- and they become friends). It's not just a trite story, it's also weak in the monster department: The son of King Kong appears 43 minutes into the 69 minute film. Completely safe to skip.

King Kong (1933) Review


Essential
There are very few works of cinema that stand up to repeated viewings and decades of changing film mores and audience expectations. Most notable among these is the classic King Kong. While the special effects that really came to symbolize the film look a bit ragged and prehistoric today, they carry an emotional weight that remains unequaled by modern CGI trickery and model work. You can spout off all you like about the wonders of The Lord of the Rings' Gollum but for all his slimy verisimilitude the guy still looks 2-D. There is, of course, a reason for that: He is. Kong wasn't.

Everyone knows King Kong but few people can actually recount the plot of the film he starred in. Perhaps that is because in the ensuing years since the film's release, the plot has become so tried and true, almost hoary, that it no longer registers on the cultural radar. It is simply archetypal.

Continue reading: King Kong (1933) Review

The Most Dangerous Game Review


Excellent
Early talkie, starring Fay Wray as a damsel in distress, trapped on that infamous mad Russian's island, where humans (including shipwrecked Joel McCrea) are hunted for sport. You read it in high school, now see the original film version of the Richard Connell story, done with impressive effects, moody cinematography, and an unbeatable adventure tale. (Plus: only 62 minutes long!)
Robert Armstrong

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