The Creation of Dino De Laurentiis’ King Kong is a great account of how this super-
production came to be in the . mid-70s
“Making Of” books tend to be either about big successes (The Jaws Log, which we reviewed here; Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho) or big failures (The Devil’s Candy: The Bonfire of the Vanities Goes to Hollywood; Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, the Film that Sank United Artists ).
Not sure to which group this particular King Kong belongs. It wasn’t a big success, but my research says that it ended up making money (not a lot) and even had a (terrible) sequel: King Kong Lives, in 1986, 10 years after the original.
The Most Exciting Original Motion Picture Event of all Time
What to say about a book that blows its own trumpets like this in its very first page?:
The most exciting original motion picture event of all time
“IT’S ALL HERE…
(AND ONLY HERE)
THE EPIC DRAMA SURPASSING ANY IN MOVIE MAKING HISTORY!
This is how – plagued by danger and disaster – Dino De Laurentiis and his harried director and the staff created the world’s most stupendous mechanical monster. They animated their gigantic ape so that his eyes glare, his chest heaves, his jaw lovers ominously, and his huge toes even wiggle – all with horrifying realism… They survived the terror of the vicious bomb scares and sniper threats… the use of revolutionary new photographic techniques, some never-before employed on the screen… and they kept watch over their inexperience young heroine as she lay in a lifeboat in the Pacific with sharks circling around her!!
King Kong –The Screen Adventure of a L
You are probably thinking: After this, we are in for a big disappointment.
Well, you are not.
It’s a great book.
A Hell of a Shooting
1975, the previous year to this King Kong, was Jaws‘ year, and Hollywood changed forever. The big summer blockbuster arrived to stay. Special effects were in a transitional moment -they were still mechanic, no CGI, obviously. The year after King Kong, 1977, SFX made a huge leap thanks to Luca’s Star Wars, but we were not there yet. When De Laurentiis bet for a new King Kong, they just didn’t know how to do it properly. But they tried.
They had to create animatronics and use a guy with a gorilla suit.
100 Years of Dino De Laurentiis
Dino would’ve been 100 in 2019 but, sadly, he departed in 2010. How to describe the big man? Dino, along with Carlo Ponti, was the seminal Italian producer.
He announced King Kong as the next big thing (no pun intended). It wasn’t that, but they really went for it.
A word-for–word quote from the big guy (De Laurentiis, not Kong):
“No one cry when Jaws die but when the monkey die, people gonna cry. Intellectuals gonna love Kong. Even film buffs who love the first Kong gonna love ours. Why? Because I no give them crap.”
MORE ON “MAKING OF” BOOKS? CHECK OUR POSTS Best “Making Of” Books: BLADE RUNNERS, DEER HUNTERS &…, Best “Making Of” Books: The Making of CITIZEN KANE, Best “Making Of” Books: EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS, First Assistant Directors: Who Are They? and Best Screenwriting Books: ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE.
More on Fantasy Films? Check SHOCK VALUE, the Essential Book about America’s 70s New Horror Films, King Vs Kubrick: From THE SHINING to DOCTOR SLEEP, All About STAR TREK, The Essential STAR WARS in 5 1/2 Books, Fantastic Material from the Original STAR WARS + Great Parody Stuff and All DUNES before DUNE (TV and Movies, from Jodorowky’s to Villeneuve’s), amongst many others!