Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Making of King Kong, Part 4

Orville Goldner and George E. Turner discuss how the leads were hired for "King Kong" in their book, "The Making of King Kong" (Ballantine Books, New York, 1975, page 65 - 71):
[Cooper and Wray on the set]
[Executive Producer] Cooper had approached Fay Wray with the news that he had chosen her to be the leading lady in a film about "a discovery of gigantic proportions" and that she would play opposite "the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood." Her initial enthusiasm changed to panic as he showed her [Mario] Larrinaga's official portrait of her film suitor stalking through the jungle with Miss Wray clutched in one hairy paw. The role called for a blonde (for contrast) . . . . as Kong's "golden woman."
[Wray and her "other" leading man,
Bruce Cabot]
Her other romantic lead, Bruce Cabot, was a young contract player who hadn't yet been in a film. . . . Cabot was given the role in King Kong after a rather unusual screen test: Cooper made him climb down a rope that was suspended from the log bridge on stage .
[Robert] Armstrong, between scenes of The Most Dangerous Game, was instructed to exchange his dress suit for a soiled and tattered safari get-up for his first day's work with Cooper.
[Without a script yet, Cooper gave him directions for the scene of his character leading his men through the woods on Skull Island.]
'I was to hold up my hand and stop my followers. As I looked across the log I was to see, across the chasm at the other end, a fifty-foot ape.
'At this point I said, "Excuse me, Mr. Cooper, but if I understand you correctly you said that I saw a fifty-foot ape." He said, "Yes, that's right, Bob. Why?" I said . . . "Well, I've been in this business a great many years, but you tell me how to take a fifty-foot ape big!" '
Miss Maven wants to know how you DON'T take a fifty-foot ape big?!
Maven would run like "heck" if she came across one any bigger than a stuffed one from Toys 'R' Us!
You can reach Miss Maven at


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