Saturday, March 31, 2012

The First Japanese Kongs!

Lost films are always a lure, especially when they feature iconic characters. London After Midnight is probably the most famous lost film. But I just learned of two more, Japanese movies from the early 1930's which by reputation are knockoffs of the RKO classic King Kong.

Their titles are Wasei Kingu Kongu ("Japanese King Kong")from 1933 and Edo Ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu ("King Kong Appears In Edo")from 1938. The poster above is for the latter, a period film which has the giant ape attacking Medieval Tokyo (Edo). The first movie is apparently a straightforward rehash of the classic Kong story.

Legend says both movies were lost in the Atomic Bomb attacks, ironic if true given the later Kaiju tradition beginning with Gojira, but it's likely merely a tantalizing legend.

I'd love to see these lost classics, but even knowing about them is intriguing. And they a special quality to the later 1963 King Kong kaiju when he finally takes on Godzilla, giving him a tradition which pre-dates his fire-breathing opponent even.

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  1. I had not heard or read of these, but I found the info in Ray Morton's book on King Kong, then I did a quick search online. Morton's book is a great read. It's a shame we can't see these vintage cinematic echoes of another time and place.

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