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
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 10
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
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

  • 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.
  • 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.

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

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


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


- 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

4 stars

As far as I'm concerned, "Action/Adventure" as a genre begins here: this is the strange and beautiful that directors like Spielberg, and Lucas, and Cameron (and unfortunately, Roland Emmerich, too) have kept striving to capture on screen - the sublime, the unimaginable, the terrifying. Animated by stop-motion, (cutting edge for its day), Kong is the Hollywood monster all others wish to be - he even takes down a T-Rex! But leaving aside my childish joy, I can complain that the pre-historic animal fight scenes were a bit extraneous and stretched the movie out longer than it needed to be. It's a small knock on a film for the ages, though. I watched it on Turner Classic, and before it started Ben Mankiewicz said this was the first film for which a score was composed (all previous used other music). It's worth noting because the music is as big a part of the thrill from this movie as any other, setting the pace and quickening your pulse as the story ticks along. Also, the film contains one of the best foreshadows you'll ever see, when Ann (the novice actress) is practicing screaming for the tests. It gives you goosebumps before you arrive on the island and the intrigue begins for real. The scenes with the natives are absolutely riveting, and the effects, though rough, are surprisingly good, allowing for an expressive monster when we finally meet him. In all, it's an age-old story, one of the greater ones ever told, and as soon as enough time has passed, we could probably put it into the class of "archetype." Visionary, brilliant film that should never be forgotten, and essential viewing for anyone who claims to enjoy movies.

- danperry17, Saturday, November 10, 2012

3 stars

The granddaddy of all the big budget special effects films and they are still pretty impressive today. The interesting part about this action/horror classic is that the real monster is the movie director and not the 50 foot ape.

- fb1664868775, Monday, October 31, 2011

5 stars

King Kong feels no shame! Neither do we for the fact that this film is a classic. Each remake of 1933's KING KONG (which stars Fay Wray as Ann Darrow) has lengthened the running time to an even longer point in order to add in more detail, dialogue, and action. (The 1976 remake was about two hours long, and the 2005 Peter Jackson re-imagination ran for a whole three hours, at least!) Quite seriously, I think the hour-and-forty-five-minute point at which this stands is long enough to add in enough legend. Come 2013, this film will be eighty years old. And it's not dead yet: it still is famous; and it has its occasional offspring, whether good (PJ's '05 remake) or bad (KING KONG VS. GODZILLA). Whoever can have a spot in their mind just to hate this, I pity you. You have no bloody taste in a good classic, fool.

- spielberg00, Sunday, October 16, 2011