Box art for King Kong (1933)

King Kong (1933)

action & adventure, horror


On a mysterious and dangerous island, a film producer captures a giant ape and brings him back to New York in the hopes of capitalizing on his prize.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    98%
  • Audience Score
    86%

common sense

ON for kids age 10
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
Language
0 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
Sex
1 out of 5
Violence
4 out of 5

Violent but beloved old-school monster movie.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know about abundant violence, not only monster-on-monster fights (inevitably ending in death for one of the combatants), and also that many innocent bystanders are brutally killed, both in the jungle and in New York City. The natives (who are black) are portrayed as face-painted, bone-wearing tribesmen.

what families can talk about

  • The old-fashioned point-of-view here doesn't seem to make any obvious objections to the brash white-hunter heroes and their not-very-scientific mission. You can ask kids if they think Kong is a sympathetic character who should have been left alone or a raging monster who had to be destroyed, and compare Kong to the genetically-engineered dinosaurs of the "Jurassic Park" series.
  • Families can talk about how later generations of admirers read a lot of messages into this movie about civilization vs. the primal jungle, about the poignancy of the tropical ape-giant brought captive to modern Manhattan.

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    98%
    reviews counted: 14
    see all King Kong (1933) reviews
  • Audience

    86%

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Willis O'Brien did the stop-action animation for this 1933 feature, which is richer in character than most of the human cast.

- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Monday, July 2, 2007

Fresh:

- Gary Dowell, Baltimore City Paper, Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fresh: "King Kong," as spectacular a bolt of celluloid as has thrilled audiences in a couple of sophisticated seasons, is the product of a number of vivid imaginations.

- Irene Thirer, New York Daily News, Thursday, March 7, 2013

Audience Reviews

3 stars

An impulsive director whisks an unknown actress to an unexplored island to capture a mythic beast on film. The Jurassic Park of its day, King Kong is the original monster movie. Unfortunately the very element that no doubt wowed audiences of the time are now its greatest handicap; the visual effects. Special effects have obviously moved on a great deal over the last 80 years, consequently the creaky stop-motion animation is rather shocking by today's standards and the close ups of the beast's face look like a glove puppet manufactured by someone whose sole information about a gorilla's visage was supplied by an attention deficit toddler. That's not to say that the original Kong is not without its charms; it has a real sense of nostalgic adventure, the other effects have fared rather better than the creatures and Fay Wray manages to be extremely sexy despite being dis-robed by a plasticine primate! Although it's no doubt sacrilege to suggest, but Peter Jackson's re-invention is actually rather better despite its penchant for unnecessary excess and not just because of the visuals. It has better dialogue, greater depth of character, stronger performances and thanks to the talents of Andy Sirkis, a much more emotionally engaging ape. Still, King Kong can be seen as a real benchmark in the evolution of cinema and as such will always be worth a viewing.

- garyX, Monday, January 21, 2013

4 stars

the original cinema classic in all its glory, one of my favorite films. i happen to be a believer that the two remakes of this iconic film were fine films that did this justice, but niether of them beats the king. the effects for 1933 were well done and this is just a really fun film to watch. the end scene gets me in each incarnation of this film. while the others create kong as a sypathetic character, this film sort of portrays kong and humanity as possessing equality in their villiany. a wonderful movie.

- sanjurosamurai, Saturday, January 15, 2011

4 stars

An extremely enjoyable, thrilling adventure concerning a group of ambitious film-makers and sailors who venture to an unknown, native-inhabited island where a great beast lies within. Although it is mostly horribly acted (Fay Wray especially, who Kristen Stewart apparently learned her incessant lip-biting from), somehow this movie remains entirely engaging even if it is now badly dated. The relationship between "Beauty and the Beast" is well put-together, and the ending is undeniably tragic and tear-jerking. However, I have to say that I still prefer Peter Jackson's version of this story. That movie had me misty-eyed during the last twenty minutes. With that said, this is still a fine picture, even if it still has the same flaws Jackson's version has as well (how in the world did they keep that huge ape subdued, and how did they get him on to such a small boat?!)

- fb619846742, Wednesday, February 9, 2011