Saturday, July 12, 2014

KING KONG Review Compares Fay Wray To Thelma Todd

A reviewer of the original KING KONG was so impressed with Fay Wray's ability to come through it all unscathed that he said she'd surpassed even Thelma Todd's ability to absorb punishment at the hands of slapstick comedians in her own movies.

Originally published March 31, 1933 in THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR

Nightmares Lose Their Terror After An Exciting Session With "King Kong"

By Corbin Patrick

WE WERE THANKFUL for the daylight and the solid foundation of North Illinois street as we emerged from a "Poetic" flight of the imagination in the screening room at the RKO film exchange yesterday afternoon. We had seen "King Kong," which has the mark and stamp of a thrill picture to end all thrill pictures. No more shall we be discreet about that  midnight snack, for nightmares have lost their terror. The bogey man who disturbs sleep is like a child with a cap pistol compared with King Kong.

We had followed an adventurous movie producer from New York to an uncharted island in unexplored seas where superstitious natives worshipped a mighty being from which they protected themselves by a tremendous wall. Beyond that wall they discovered Kong- fifty feet high, a gigantic ape who could hold a human being in the palm of his hand.

The huge beast captures the pretty leading lady and carries her away to his mountain retreat through swamps infected with dinosaurs, dragons, and other prehistoric monsters. Most of the men who follow to save her are destroyed like flies. While Kong is defending prize against a great bird of prey, one of those who escaped carries her away. Kong follows in a rage, back to the very edge of the sea, where the producer and members of the crew who had remained behind overcome him with gas bombs and hope to make a fortune with him as "the eighth wonder of the world".

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THEY RETURN to New York and exhibit him on Broadway. Then the excitement really begins. Maddened by the sight of the woman who had eluded his grasp, Kong breaks his mighty bonds and runs amuck, carries her to the top of the Empire State Building. Airplanes spin about his head and pepper him with machine gun bullets He slaps one down as you would a sparrow. But the weapons of man finally take effect, and Kong crashes from the pinnacle to the earth. He had put his captive down to fight these strange mechanical birds and she is rescued, none the worse for her experience. That's the end of it.

THIS IS THE MOST amazing heroine in all screen history. It is the most remarkable feature of this very remarkable picture that she not only is alive but still in her right mind when the menace is finally removed. We have always admired the capacity of Thelma Todd, as foil for slapstick comedians, to absorb punishment, but she never suffered as Fay Wary suffers in "King Kong". Do they make it look real? Don't ask.

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Author Corbin Patrick must have been a Thelma Todd fan, although I don't remember him writing a lot about her for this paper even during that period. He continued to work for THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR for many years and was still at it when I was a young man. But at length he did retire, and I imagine he has since retired from this plane of existence as well.


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