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Sunday, March 31, 2013

King Kong (1976)

A paleontologist (Jeff Bridges) stowaways on a ship owned by a major oil company that is headed to a mysterious island in the Indian ocean where it is believed massive deposits of untapped oil reside. The avaricious oil executive (Charles Grodin) in charge of the expedition is paranoid about keeping his discovery a secret but what they find instead staggers the imagination. This unfairly maligned update of the 1933 film isn't as stolid as the '33 film. The screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (PRETTY POISON), working from the original script, infuses the film with more wit and poignancy than its predecessor, mixing topicality (the greed of oil companies) with a love story that can never be fulfilled. When the giant Kong lovingly blow dries the luscious Jessica Lange with his breath, you laugh out loud but you're touched by the gesture nevertheless. Lange, in her film debut, already displays ample signs that we're watching a star being born and Grodin as the environmental rapist takes such amoral joy in his actions that you can't really dislike him. Of course, today there's the added pathos of Kong's climb up the World Trade Center (replacing the Empire State Building in the original). Carlo Rimbaldi and Rick Baker are responsible for Kong's expressive face. Directed by John Guillermin and there's a beauty of an underscore by John Barry. With Rene Auberjonois, Ed Lauter, John Randolph, John Agar, John Lone and Julius Harris.

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