Posted: June 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Kong cover TODAY’S BOOK As mentioned in an earlier post, one of the nice things about the tie-in, or Photoplay book, is that they sometimes supply the author’s version of scenes otherwise excised from the original film. The Grosset & Dunlap 1932 edition of KING KONG might be a good case in point. Again, remember that assigned writer Delos W. Lovelace, though working directly from the film’s script, doubtless took some artistic license with his prose. Still, he seems to have honed fairly close to the British copy of the film, the only one that includes the majority of “lost” or missing scenes from the movie, including Faye Wray’s disrobing by Kong and the latter’s muddy abuse of natives and NY citizenry. The vaunted Lost Spider Sequence—perhaps even more lamented than LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT to effects fans—is included in the novelization. For the release of the last DVD of KONG before it went to Blu-ray, director Peter Jackson and his Weta crew recreated the scene in their effects shop with laborious stop-action patience and care if, admittedly, some guesswork, working off rare stills of the sequence and at least one of the original puppets, a Delgado sculpted styracosaur probably filmed but, like the spider pit, edited out of the Wallace-Cooper movie. It’s now believed that the styracosaur, not the brontosaur, is what chased the crew onto the log bridge to face Kong, and prevented them from exited again—trapped between two monsters, with more waiting in the pit below. I’ve watched the Jackson making-of footage carefully but am still unable to determine if an original script survives or that’s just a continuity script they’re consulting. If the latter, then the novel’s pit sequence becomes all the more valuable. I have no information on whether or not Jackson worked from the novel itself. I also believe the trapdoor spider puppet in O’Brien’s later The Black Scorpion (1957, Warner Bros) was used/intended for the spider pit scene in Kong; I’m no film historian so please feel free to disagree. Interestingly, Lovelace refers to the styracosaur as a “tricerotops” in his noveI. In 2005 several Lovelace versions were rereleased in paperback editions in tandem with Jackson’s remake of Kong, including one with a terrific new cover by old artist pal Thomas Blackshear–but if you missed those, I’m including a snippet from the original 1932 G&D hardback pictured here: “…AS DRISCOL STARTED ACROSS THE GIANT LOG DENHAM LOOKED DOWN. THE RAVINE WAS VERY DEEP, WITH A THICK DEPOSIT OF MUD AND SLIME AT THE BOTTOM. ALONGSIDE THIS REEKING DEPOSIT…WERE NARROW MOUTHED CAVES AND LONG, JAGGED FISSURES IN THE ROCK…AS THOUGH EXORCISED BY HIS POINTING FINGER, A SPIDER LIKE KEG ON MANY LEGS CAME CRAWLING OUT OF A CAVE…SOMETHING WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN A LIZARD EXCEPT FOR ITS SIZE LAY WARMING ITSELF ON A SUNNY LEDGE. THE SPIDER MOVED TOWARD IT, THEN THOUGHT BETTER OF THE IMPULSE AND LOOKED ABOUT FOR SMALLER PREY. THIS WAS PROVIDED BY A ROUND, CRAWLING OBJECT WITH TENTACLES LIKE THOSE OF AN OCTOPUS. THE SPIDER CRAWLED TO THE ATTACK. BOTH OCTOPUS-INSECT AND SPIDER VANISHED INTO A FISSURE… …THE MEN ON THE LOG COULD DO NOTHING. TO ADVANCE AGAINST KONG WAS IMPOSSIBLE, TO RETREAT WAS NO LESS SO, FOR THE TRICEROTOPS, SIGHTING HIS OLD FOE, RUSHED TO THE END OF THE LOG AND BELLOWED A CHALLENGE… …TWO OF THE MEN LOST THEIR HOLDS. ONE WENT WHIRLING DOWN INTO THE DECAYING SILT AT THE BOTTOM. HE HAD NO MORE THAN STRUCK WHEN THE LIZARD FLASHED UPON HIM…THE SECOND MAN DID NOT DIE IN THE FALL. HE LANDED FEET FIRST, SINKING IMMEDIATELY TO HIS WAISTLINE IN THE MUD, AND SCREAMED HORRIBLY AS NOT ONE BUT HALF A DOZEN OF THE GREAT SPIDERS SWARMED OVER HIM…DRISCOL, LOOKING DOWN IN HORROR, FOUND HIMSELF MENACED. A SPIDER WAS CLIMBING THE HEAVY VINE WHICH HUNG IN FRONT OF THE CAVE…” So, according to Lovelace, Kong battled a triceratops, not a T. Rex, when rescuing Ann Darrow, and a giant spider, not a lizard, climbed the vine rope in an attempt to dispatch Driscoll. Lovelace taking liberties? Or simply working off scripted scenes not yet filmed? We do know that the bulk of KONG’S effects work was done after principle photography; perhaps Lovelace had already started the novelization. Until someone unearths footage from that dreaded spider pit (O’Brien considered it his finest animation), the mystery will endure…

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