Tracking King Kong
A Hollywood Icon in World Culture
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
Preface to the Second Edition
In the decade since this book first appeared, King Kong’s visibility in both academic and popular culture has increased considerably. New readings of the original King Kong (Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, 1933), such as those by Susan Buck-Morss and Merrill Schleier, reflect the growing interest in modernism that has characterized film and media studies, ...
This book offers an extended analysis of King Kong, one of the best-known characters ever produced by the Hollywood cinema, and a figure repeatedly activated in art and mass culture, both in the United States and abroad. As I write this introduction, interest in the 1933 film King Kong, directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, ...
1. A Showman’s Dream: The Production and Release of King Kong
At least one of our national characteristics is illustrated in the RKO Radio production of King Kong which loomed over the audiences of both Radio City movie houses last week. It is a characteristic hard to define except that it is related to that sometimes magnificent passion for scale that foreigners have remarked in our building of hundred-story skyscrapers,
2. Camera Adventure, Dangerous Contact: Documentaries and Genre Traditions behind King Kong
Some of the more interesting recent work on film genres departs from a traditional notion of genre as a stable classification system divorced from contingency and historical change. Armed with new historical and cultural studies methods, scholars have increasingly approached genres as complex discursive systems comprising not only the films themselves, ...
3. Monstrous Returns in the Postwar Context: Mighty Joe Young and Godzilla
In one of the final scenes of A Summer Place (Delmer Daves, 1959), young lovers Molly (Sandra Dee) and Johnny (Troy Donahue) lie to their parents about going out to see King Kong, “one of those wonderful old horror numbers,” as Molly puts it. The proposed outing is a ruse, for the couple actually intends to venture out ...
4. Gorilla Queen and Other Tales: Male Spectatorship and the King Kong Parodies
Earlier chapters have been designed to map out the King Kong phenomenon by situating the original film and its spin-off s in a series of historical settings. Methods chosen for this reconstruction have been rather eclectic, with contexts reconstructed from industrial and mass media discourses, film genre cycles, ...
5. King Kong’s Melancholy: A Reading of Peter Jackson’s King Kong
In 1996, Peter Jackson was in early stages of production of a remake of King Kong for Universal Pictures when he experienced a series of setbacks: his “thrillomedy,” The Frighteners (1996), failed at the box office; two competing studios announced impending release of their own Kong-related features, Godzilla (Roland Emmerich, 1998) and Mighty Joe Young (Ron Underwood, 1998), ...
Although the thrust of this book has been to chart out the reception history of King Kong, a motivating force guiding the project has been my own personal fascination with the unpredictable ways cinematic phenomena leave the space of the film and exhibition industries, to be taken up in surprising sectors of culture and everyday life. ...