Friday, April 29, 2011

"King Kong vs. Godzilla" Loathed?

by Armand Vaquer

Above, Godzilla and King Kong go after each other while demolishing Atami Castle in the process.

Over at the Classic Horror Film Board (CHFB), there is currently a topic in the Japanese Giants section titled, "Was KING KONG VS GODZILLA especially loathed in monster fandom?"

One thing about G-fans (or fanatics of any genre), there's always disagreements (some heatedly) amongst them. The subject of King Kong vs. Godzilla is one of those that brings up the passion level.

King Kong vs. Godzilla was released in the U.S. by Universal Pictures in June 1963. It as a heavily-edited version that inserted American actors to "help" with the narrative. Unfortunately, those edited-in scenes actually marred the movie. The original Japanese version plays out better as the satire it was intended to be.

I first saw King Kong vs. Godzilla at the Balboa Theater in Los Angeles in the Manchester-Vermont shopping area with my parents and friends. We sat in the balcony (photo left). I was nine-years-old at the time. It was paired with John Wayne's Donovan's Reef. (This was the subject of my first G-FAN article, by the way.)

While my parents and us kids laughed at the mangy King Kong suit, we were still greatly entertained by the movie. It was my first Godzilla movie to be seen on the big screen.

The premise of the thread, "Was KING KONG VS GODZILLA especially loathed in monster fandom?" really doesn't have any legs as there was no "fandom" back in 1963. Maybe a few monster elites didn't much care for it (Forrest J. Ackerman was one, so maybe that's why he came up with the phony "two-endings" tale), but to younger teens and pre-teens (and some adults), King Kong vs. Godzilla was good, mindless entertainment. If anyone "loathes" the movie, it is mainly by revisionist fans of today. King Kong vs. Godzilla still remains the boxoffice champ (by number of tickets sold) of all the Toho-produced Godzilla movies.

As an adult, I still find it fun and entertaining, but I now prefer the Japanese version.

A few side notes:

Back in 1972, I was perusing the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald-Examiner's sports section and on page two, there was a doctored photo of King Kong and Godzilla in a boxing ring wearing boxing gloves. It was to hype KABC-TV Channel 7's airing of the movie. That got me wanting to see it again.

Some of the locations in King Kong vs. Godzilla are covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. They include Atami Castle, Diet Building, Mt. Fuji and Ginza (interestingly, the overhead tracking shots of Ginza are only in the American version).

The Balboa Theater still stands, but it had been converted into a mosque and is now up for sale. The theater opened in April 1926. It was once part of the Fox-West Coast Theater chain.


  1. After seeing the original Japanese film, I find it tough to watch the American version. I'm not being a dubbing snob, I just hate the US inserts because they make no sense. The best example is when the helicopter pilot yells Gojira/Godzilla and they go back to the US news man, "The world is shocked that prehistoric monster's exist" did the American pilot know to scream "Godzilla"? The Japanese version is a better satire and I prefer the Ifukube score to the Creature from the black lagoon retread score.

  2. I've always wanted to see the original version. Is it out on DVD somewhere?

  3. I have never seen the Japanese version of this movie and would love to see it some time. I recently purchased the American version and I do have to say I enjoy it.



Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.