King Kong comes out this month. That is King Kong number three. The first King Kong was in 1933.
I lived next door to the family of Willis O'Brien, creator of the big ape movie. O'Brien's ex-wife and two kids lived there. The kids were teen-agers, Willis (Jr) and Bill. Bill was blind from an early age. My grand father and Bill used to play chess. Bill would bring his special chess board with raised squares and peg holes, and his special chess men, with pegs that fit into holes to hold the men upright. The white men had tops ground down at an angle so you could tell the white men from the black men by touch. Bill and grandfather would play, and Bill would make his moves by touching the pieces gently and figuring the moves in his head. I think that is brilliant.
Willis, called "Weeks", was considered a juvenile dilinquent by his family, but his escapades seem rather more capricious than violent. He went swimming in the Hollywood reservoir. Horrors, what a crime, in 1933.
Anyway O'Brien produced King Kong while his family was living next door. He was already known for an animated feature called "The Lost World", made with miniatures, which were painstakingly photographed one frame at a time. We knew that there was one full sized Kong head, one foot, and one hand. All the rest of Kong was miniature. And I got to see and hold, a miniature Fay Wray, smaller than a present day Barbie.
Miniature Fay Wray was photographed in miniature Kong's hand, and then the scene shifted to full sized, real Fay Wray in Giant size Kong's hand. Real Fay Wray let out some full sized screams and the illusion was perfect. What you saw was a giant ape holding a terrified woman. Special effects were not as sophisticated then, but neither were audiences. The effect was paralyzing.
I am not sure I was allowed to see such a horror film at age nine. But I have seen it many times since, and of course, it is my favorite version.