King Kong and the white woman

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German title King Kong and the white woman
Original title King Kong
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1933
length 100 minutes
Age rating FSK 6 (formerly 16 and 12)
Director Merian C. Cooper ,
Ernest B. Schoedsack
script James Ashmore Creelman
Ruth Rose
production Merian C. Cooper,
Ernest B. Schoedsack,
David O. Selznick
for RKO Pictures
music Max Steiner
Bernhard Kaun
camera Edward Linden
J O Taylor
Vernon L. Walker
cut Ted Cheesman

Successor  →
King Kong's son

King Kong and the white woman (German original release title from the year 1933: The fable of King Kong - An American cartoons and sensational film ) is in black and white twisted American adventure , horror and fantasy film by directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack from 1933 . The main roles were played by Fay Wray , Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot . The film is a production of the film company RKO . The world-famous giant monkey King Kong , immortalized in pop culture , made his first appearance here. The film has received great attention to this day, particularly for its stop-motion knitting technique, which was implemented by Willis O'Brien . The film opened in German cinemas on December 1, 1933.


The director Carl Denham and his film crew travel on the freighter “Venture” to the remote island “ Skull Island ”. He wants to shoot his next film on the island, which is not shown on any map and is only known from a few traditions. Denham's leading lady is his new discovery, Ann Darrow.

On landing, the crew gets into a ceremony of the islanders, whose village is separated from the rest of the island by a high wall. In front of the wall gate, a young woman is about to be sacrificed to the local island god "Kong". When Denham tries to film the scene, they are discovered. The islanders demand the surrender of the platinum blonde Ann. The crew manages to escape, but the following night Ann is kidnapped from the ship by the natives and chosen as an offering to Kong.

Ann is tied to an altar on the inland side of the wall, then the islanders summon their god Kong. A giant monkey emerges from the jungle, loosens Ann's chains and takes her with him. The crew of the "Venture", who noticed Ann's absence, arrive too late. Denham puts together a rescue team. Kong takes Ann to his cave; on their way, he protects them from various dangers such as dinosaurs and giant snakes. The rescue team is completely wiped out except for two men on its march through the jungle. Jack Driscoll, the first mate of the "Venture", saves Ann at a propitious moment when Kong is distracted by a fight with a pterosaur. Kong pursues them, breaks through the wall gate and massacres the natives. But Carl Denham manages to stun Kong with gas bombs and ship it to New York .

As "King Kong" Kong is presented to the paying audience as the "eighth wonder of the world" in a theater on Broadway . At the premiere, he is so upset by the flashlight of the photographers that he breaks his bonds and wanders through New York in search of Ann. On his way he kills numerous people, throws cars around him and derails an elevated railway.

Kong finds Ann and John hidden in an apartment, brings Ann under his control again and escapes with her to the top of the Empire State Building . There he is attacked by a squadron of the United States Army Air Corps biplane . Mortally wounded by sheaves of machine guns, he falls into the depths. Denham explains to the reporters surrounding him that the bullets did not bring down Kong: "It was beauty killed the beast." ("Beauty killed the beast.")


Production and conception

Stop motion model of a brontosaurus that was used for the film

Jean Harlow turned down the female lead in King Kong . Allegedly, the director Cooper won Fay Wray with the famous words “You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood” (for example: “You will work with the tallest, darkest leading actor in Hollywood”) for the leading role.

Before the film got its final name King Kong , the filmmakers toyed with alternatives like The Beast , The Ape , King Ape, and Kong .

King Kong is also the first sound film in which dialog scenes are also accompanied by music. Max Steiner is therefore often referred to as the father of film music.

The film had to be re-cut after a test screening. During the chase through the jungle there was a scene in which Kong throws the men into a ravine where they are eaten by spiders. This scene was only shown once in front of a test audience, who reacted in horror. The scene was cut afterwards and has been lost to this day. There are only three photos left. Due to the censorship laws, scenes were also cut out in 1938: a scene in which Kong picks the woman's clothes and tickles her breasts, as well as other scenes in which Kong kills people on the island by trampling or biting them. These cuts made the monkey look a lot friendlier. The shortened version was released in German cinemas in 1952. The US theatrical version was not restored until 1969 and the missing eleven minutes were added.

Kong is of varying sizes in almost every scene, but deliberately to achieve the desired effect. For the models, among other things, the skins of unborn lambs were used. Most of the dinosaurs had already been built by Willis O'Brien for the film project "Lost Island", which however was never realized.

Skull Island's giant wooden gate has been memorably reused: it was burned down for Gone With the Wind (as part of the Atlanta Depot) in December 1938 . Both films were produced by David O. Selznick.

Miniature projection was used for the first time during the shooting . The process was registered for a patent in 1933.

The film, shot in 1931 and 1932, premiered on March 2, 1933, the German premiere under the first German distribution title The Fable of King Kong took place on December 1, 1933. Initially, the film was in National Socialist Germany as an "attack on the nerves of the German People ”was not released, but Adolf Hitler was enthusiastic about the film and watched it several times. When the film production company sued, he was eventually released.

Reception and success

King Kong grossed over $ 90,000 on the opening weekend in the US alone, which was a record at the time. Willis O'Brien's special effects , especially the use of the stop-motion process, were considered to be groundbreaking, and the film is still very well regarded today. The image of the giant gorilla on the skyscraper, the skull-shaped island of Skull Island and Fay Wray's horrified look (and scream) are firmly established in the iconography of pop culture today .

The success of the film saved the film company RKO from bankruptcy.

In Germany, the film again gained great popularity in the early 1970s with its television premiere: The ZDF horror film series Der phantastischen Film started on November 13, 1970 with King Kong and the white woman .


  • King Kong is the free template for one of the most successful video games: Donkey Kong . However, this had caused a legal battle.
  • Edgar Wallace passed away while working on King Kong .
  • In 1961, King Kong's English counterpart called Konga hit theaters. Konga is actually a chimpanzee treated with growth serum, but in the course of the film it takes on the appearance of a giant gorilla.
  • In the Rocky Horror Show , reference is made to the film in the opening song Science Fiction Double Feature ( Then something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong ).
  • The writer Kirsten Boie created the pig King-Kong as the main character in some of her children's books.
  • The Berlin band Die Ärzte make reference to the film in their song Monsterparty ( said: “If King Kong doesn't fit through the gate, I'll grab the white woman!” )
  • In 1991 the film was entered into the National Film Registry .
  • The thriller Graf Zaroff - Genie des Evil was filmed parallel to King Kong . Director Schoedsack and producer Cooper as well as some of the actors also worked here. Parts of the jungle setting were used for both films.


The first German dubbed version for King Kong and the white woman was made as early as 1933 . The dubbed version used today is from 1952.

role actor German Dubbing voice (1952)
Ann Darrow Fay Wray Maria Koerber
Carl Denham Robert Armstrong Wolf Martini
Jack Driscoll Bruce Cabot Herbert Stass
Mr. Weston, theater agent Sam Hardy Erich Fiedler
Briggs, second mate James Flavin Horst Niendorf
Charley the cook Victor Wong Walter Bluhm


King Kong and the White Woman received almost exclusively good reviews. The film has a Rotten Tomatoes positive rate of 98%.

“The technically brilliant monster film is one of the classics of the genre. The fantastic decorations of the native primeval world of Kong are based on the etchings by Gustave Doré (for Milton's "Paradise Lost") with light and shadow effects. The “Stop Motion” sequences by “Special Effects” artist Willis O'Brian were groundbreaking long after they were made. The artificially prolonged roar of the monkey and the drawn-out scream of Fay Wray, the “white woman” in the power of the monkey, made film history (...). Regardless of all the trick effects, "King Kong and the White Woman" is also a touching film that tells the story of the monster as a tragic romance. "

"Monster classic. [...] The brilliant film based on an idea by Edgar Wallace, which is still unique in terms of trick technology, skilfully combines the expedition and disaster film with the melodrama. "(Highest rating: outstanding)"

- Adolf Heinzlmeier , Berndt Schulz in the lexicon "Films on TV"

“The original King Kong is unsurpassed, especially when it comes to the trick technique specially designed for this film. A pioneering achievement at the beginning of the sound film era. "

- Frankfurter Rundschau , Frankfurt am Main

Related movies


Due to the enormous success, the sequel King Kong's Son was released in theaters in the same year as King Kong and the white woman . Another giant monkey film followed in 1949, Panic for King Kong , although Kong did not even appear in it. Most of the staff from the first King Kong film and the lead actor Robert Armstrong were involved in both films .


Further films


With Kong: Skull Island , a reinterpretation of the material was released in 2017, even if, for legal reasons, it is based on the Japanese monster classic The Return of King Kong by the Tōhō Studios , which, mind you, was based on the original film. In addition to numerous references to events, locations and characters from the original film, the Kong of this film universe even directly visually references the original. This can be recognized by the unusually pronounced cheekbones of the giant monkey. This reinterpretation is part of a new cinematic universe called MonsterVerse, which also includes Godzilla from 2014, and is said to be with Godzilla vs. Kong 2020 to be continued directly.

DVD release

  • King Kong and the white woman. Kinowelt Home Entertainment 1999



  • Delos W. Lovelace , Merian C. Cooper (Founder), Edgar Wallace (Founder): King Kong. Roman (Original Title: King Kong ). German by Helmut Kassodo. Goldmann, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-442-08835-6 .
  • Joe DeVito, Brad Strickland: Merian C. Cooper's King Kong. King of the Beasts. Novel (original title: Merian C. Cooper's King Kong ). German by Andreas Kasprzak. Blanvalet, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-442-24428-7 .
  • Orville Goldner, George E. Turner: The Making of King Kong. The story behind a film classic . AS Barnes and Co., South Brunswick et al. 1975, ISBN 0-498-01510-6 .
  • Joe DeVito, Brad Strickland: Kong. King of Skull Island . DH Press, Milwaukie OR 2005, ISBN 1-59582-006-X .
  • Ray Morton: King Kong. The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson . Applause Theater & Cinema Books et al., New York NY et al. 2005, ISBN 1-55783-669-8 .

Web links

Commons : King Kong and the White Woman  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jean Harlow in the Tabloids
  2. "King Kong" ( Memento of the original from February 18, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Biography of Max Steiner at the IFMCA
  4. Kultfilme , Heyne Verlag, 1985, p. 182
  5. Gone with the Wind
  6. Kay Less : The film's great personal dictionary . The actors, directors, cameramen, producers, composers, screenwriters, film architects, outfitters, costume designers, editors, sound engineers, make-up artists and special effects designers of the 20th century. Volume 2: C - F. John Paddy Carstairs - Peter Fritz. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89602-340-3 , p. 152, (entry Cooper).
  7. Kay Less : The film's great personal dictionary . The actors, directors, cameramen, producers, composers, screenwriters, film architects, outfitters, costume designers, editors, sound engineers, make-up artists and special effects designers of the 20th century. Volume 7: R - T. Robert Ryan - Lily Tomlin. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89602-340-3 , p. 153, (entry Schoedsack).
  8. Illustrated Film-Kurier No. 2042
  9. Hitler's penchant for Greta Garbo or Dick und Doof: "Führer very happy"
  10. "King Kong" at Rotten Tomatoes
  11. ↑ On TV this week . In: Der Spiegel . No. 46 , 1970, pp. 266 ( online ).
  12. Cynthia Erb: Tracking King Kong: A Hollywood Icon in World Culture. Wayne State University Press, Detroit 2009, ISBN 978-0-8143-3430-0 , pp. 29-31.
  13. King Kong and the white woman in the German synchronous file
  15. King Kong and the White Woman. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  16. Adolf Heinzlmeier, Berndt Schulz: Lexicon "Films on TV." (Extended new edition) Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-89136-392-3 , pp. 449-450
  17. Markus Haage: Kong: Skull Island (USA, 2017). In: Markus Haage Medien, March 9, 2017, accessed on July 13, 2018 .