King Kong (1976) starring Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, John Randolph, Rene Auberjonois, Julius Harris, Jack O'Halloran, Ed Lauter directed by John Guillermin Movie Review

King Kong (1976)   3/53/53/53/53/5

King Kong (1976) starring Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange

Not a Complete King Pong

This 1976 version of "King Kong" is probably one of the most derided movies in cinema's long history yet in truth it isn't that bad. Oh don't get me wrong as it is still bad; the special effects are bad, the dialogue is bad, and the acting is also bad but it isn't completely terrible. It probably wasn't the intention but "King Kong" is entertaining in a cheesy almost spoof sort of way which now works well as a drinking game.

Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin - Dave) is heading up an oil exploration for Petrox on an unknown island in the middle of nowhere which has remained undiscovered due to a permanent cloud of fog. Except it has been discovered and paleontologist Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges - True Grit) stows aboard the ship as he wants to explore the island in search of the legend of a giant primate. Wannabee actress Dwan (Jessica Lange - Bonneville) also ends up on the ship when they discover her floating in a small dingy in the middle of the ocean. With the exploration having reached the island Jack fears that there is a giant ape there whilst Fred is only concerned about finding oil. But that all changes when Dwan is kidnapped by islanders and Jack heads on a rescue mission.

Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange in King Kong (1976)

So for those who know the original movie will spot that there are some changes to the storyline as we have an oil exploration rather than a movie producer being the lead in to Skull Island but it works as it is in keeping with the 1970s. And that is the thing about this version of "King Kong" it is very 70s and I don't just mean the special effects but in the drama, characters and writing. In many ways this 1976 version of "King Kong" reminds me of a disaster movie especially with Charles Grodin playing Fred Wilson as comically arrogant and nasty. That makes it very different in style to the original but it is not what is wrong with the movie.

Nope what is wrong is that it is simply poor with poor special effects, poor dialogue and a poor romantic storyline and I don't mean that between Jack and Dwan but that of Kong's feelings for her. It makes it incredibly cheesy and whilst I am sure that was never the intention back on its release now makes it more entertaining than bad. As I said you could turn this 1976 version of "King Kong" into a drinking game where every time something makes you laugh, be it the dodgy effects or the Ape erotica you knock one back. It does mean that you would be plastered long before the half way mark but it would be a hell of a lot of fun.

But seriously for a moment this is a poor movie and the super imposed scenes of Dwan in Kong's hand are just one of many poor visual moments which are made worse by the editing. And the acting despite featuring Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin and Jessica Lange leaves a lot to be desired although to their credit they give it their best especially Lange who has to act sexy next to a giant monkey hand.

What this all boils down to is that if you watch this 1976 version of "King Kong" expecting an exciting adventure you are going to be left disappointed. But when watched because you know it is bad it breaches the point of terrible to become entertainingly bad.