I’m drifting drifting back in memory once again and I think I’m about seven and my parents are debating whether or not I should be allowed to see a scary movie. My mother was concerned that at my age the trauma might warp my mind ha little did she know of future warpings from myriad traumas but she was overruled by my father- who knows he may have relished the thought of trauma forever affecting the innocent young psyche of his only begotten son. And thus I was allowed to stay up late and watch the original 1933 version of King Kong.
I was fascinated. Mesmerized and captivated. The movie so dark and dream-like and years later I would learn that this film was embraced by Andre Breton and the French Surrealists. But I was confused, that innocent young psyche of mine having never been exposed to ambiguity, and wasn’t Kong The Magnificent 52 foot tall Ape supposed to be the villain abducting poor diminutive Fay Wray and all (God only knows what he intended to do with her and my innocent young psyche was not sufficiently developed to conjecture the possibilities, although Andre Breton and his pals probably could, what with them being French and all.) But I was on Kong’s side from the get-go and it felt strange. Weren’t there Good Guys and Bad Guys cops and robbers cowboys and Indians white hats vs black hats wasn’t it supposed to be clear and simple, self-evident a priori Yin and Yang? If Kong wasn’t the bad guy then who was? He didn’t go to the Big Apple of his own volition, no they gassed him unconscious and abducted him. He was a hostage and boy if there was ever anyone immune to the Stockholm Syndrome it was King Kong!
Shackled, debased, humiliated, a giant Broadway attraction a Gargantuan vaudeville performer growling pulling on his chains inspiring awe and fear in the heartless gown and tuxedo audience. Then, like self-destructive idiots, they cart out Fay Wray with her rescuer beau Jack, Kong’s arch rival. Snapping pictures, flash bulbs flaring agitating the big fellow a voice screams out “Stop-stop- he thinks you’re hurting the girl!” and with a mighty tug he is unchained liberated pissed off to high heaven running amok killing and crushing derailing subway trains- looking, searching desperately for her, Fay Wray where did they hide her there there she is and she is snatched away from the insipid Jack and my innocent young psyche absolutely bewildered, not the least of reasons being I sensed Fay actually preferred Kong over her rescuer beau Jack because he was pure and uncorrupted. I’m with you Kong I’m with you wreak havoc on the bastards grab Fay Wray climb up the newly built Empire State Building that concrete and steel phallic icon of civilization.
No no here come the planes yes that’s it knock them out of the sky but the cowards have you outnumbered blasting you with machine guns death by a thousand cuts and you fall fall to the street dead. The voice of his captor bellows “Twas Beauty killed the Beast.” Bullshit you killed him you exploitive bastard and before the closing credits I’m no longer ambivalent. I knew then I was one of you and not one of them, and as far as I’m concerned you should have laid waste to New York then moved on to Jersey.
2 thoughts on “From The Red Wing Chronicles- A Stream Of Consciousness Remembrance Of King Kong”
I read this in one rushing eyeful, while comparing my memory of watching it as a youngster to yours. I don’t know how my sympathies shook out at the time, but I do remember the awesomeness of the great ape, and the precious femininity of Fay Wray, legs awaving.
Great story telling, Ron, may the R. W. Chronicles roll on.
Thank you Larry. The innocent child/woman image of Fay Wray did not go unnoticed even at my prepubescent age. Did she bear an influence on Marilyn Monroe and the long panoply of Monroe imitators? When she appeared at the the 2005 Academy Awards that featured her successor Naomi Watts, she still, in her mid-nineties, had the magic and allure.