• Home
  • News
  • King Kong (1933) — The Film Crew Land On The Island

King Kong (1933) — The Film Crew Land On The Island

Movie: King Kong (1933)
Scene: The Film Crew Land On The Island
King Kong is an American pre-Code monster adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack.

King Kong is especially noted for its stop-motion animation by Willis O'Brien and a groundbreaking musical score by Max Steiner.

For budget reasons, RKO decided not to have an original film score composed, instead instructing composer Max Steiner to simply reuse music from other films. Cooper thought the film deserved an original score and paid Steiner $50,000 to compose it. Steiner completed the score in six weeks and recorded it with a 46-piece orchestra. The studio later reimbursed Cooper. The score was unlike any that came before and marked a significant change in the history of film music.

King Kong's score was the first feature-length musical score written for an American "talkie" film, the first major Hollywood film to have a thematic score rather than background music, the first to mark the use of a 46-piece orchestra, and the first to be recorded on three separate tracks (sound effects, dialogue, and music).

Steiner used a number of new film scoring techniques, such as drawing upon opera conventions for his use of leitmotifs.

The backdrop of Skull Island in the very beginning of the scene was painted on glass. The scene was then composited with separate bird elements and rear projected behind the ship and the actors.

All of the native village scenes were filmed on the RKO-Pathé lot in Culver City with the native huts recycled from Bird of Paradise (1932). The great wall in the island scenes was a hand-me-down from DeMille's The King of Kings (1927) and dressed up with massive gates, a gong, and primitive carvings. The wall and gate were destroyed in 1939 for Gone With the Wind's burning of Atlanta sequence.