King Kong (1976)

King Kong (1976), directed by John Guillermin.

This version is not much admired, and in fact it doesn't have a lot to offer. They spent a lot on the ape effects, but the illusion of size and space is mostly missing. Hawaii provides some nice Skull Island locations, but there is also too much soundstage work.

We're used to the Beauty and the Beast aspect. We always feel pity for Kong and wonder at the strangely emotional and sensual bond between him and Dwan (yes, that's her name). They try to hit something more here: the worship of celebrity, parallel to the natives' worship of their ape god.

Introducing Jessica Lange as our heroine, guided by horoscopes and torn between fame and love. It's hard to see stowaway scientist Jeff Bridges through that hair, but he either has his mouth hanging open in astonishment, or clenched tight with outrage: "There's a girl out there who might be running for her life from some gigantic turned-on ape!"

Charles Grodin is supposed to be both funny and irritating as the oil company big cheese. He gets the irritating part right. He's stomped in the end, thank goodness.

Kong climbs the World Trade Center in this version and jumps between the towers. His end is bloody but reasonably quick. They say 30,000 people showed up as extras for the street scenes.

John Barry score.