TALKBACK #3: King Kong vs. Godzilla

Discuss the original series of Godzilla films! From "Terror of Tokyo" to Puppy-faced Super-hero, the Showa Era had something for everyone!

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Postby heroforhirerob » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:59 pm

This one is a total mixed bag for me. Decent Ifukube music...good G suit...decent acting....awful awful AWFUL Kong suit...so bad it manages to cancel most of the movie's good elements all by itself. That said...the Japanese version is by far superior.
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Postby jellydonut25 » Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:21 pm

i think this movie features what is BY FAR Ifukube's weakest score...
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Postby king_ghidorah » Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:26 pm

Not his best score...but it deff foretells where Godzilla themes will go from that point on and for that reason this score is a very important part of Godzilla history
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Postby Benjamin Haines » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:12 pm

It had been years since I'd seen this movie, but I've watched it quite a few times over the past couple months. Some thoughts:

  • Sekizawa, Honda and Tsuburaya struck the perfect balance between the two titular monsters. The events leading up to the first appearances of both Kong and Godzilla play out in a back-and-forth fashion, and the film never loses focus of either monster's story. King Kong vs. Godzilla isn't just a movie with two monsters, it's two monster movies in one. We get the essential elements of a King Kong movie (journey to an exotic island, the buildup to and revelation of Kong, his bout with one of the island's giant creatures, his capture and relocation to the mainland, and Kong carrying a damsel in distress up a famous monument), as well as the standard treats of a Godzilla movie (Godzilla bursting onto the scene, laying waste to tanks and buildings, a panicked countryside evacuation, and an elaborate military strategy to defeat him). Both of the primary plotlines weave around and across each other like a DNA strand before culminating in a glorious final showdown.
  • In the '33 film, Kong has a penchant for getting into fights with random giant beasts on his island home. This happens with a Tyrannosaurus rex, a plesiosaur thing and a pterodactyl, and it always ends with Kong killing or mortally wounding his foes and roaring victoriously. King Kong vs. Godzilla presents a marvelous twist on these proceedings. Kong encounters a giant octopus and scraps with it for a bit, but he allows it to retreat. Then he does the most logical thing for a big ape to do after duking it out with a giant critter: he gets hammered. He downs jugs of berry juice like shots of Jägermeister and before you know it he's passed out. And it's not just a throwaway gag, it's a crucial plot point that leads to his transportation to Japan, a tonal 180 from the edge-of-your-seat incapacitation of Kong in the original film. Brilliant. I also like how the natives are quick to surround Kong and start chanting him a lullaby, like it's a routine they've got down pat because Kong does this all the time.
  • I love how self-referential this movie is, satirizing its own commercialism and what not. Godzilla returns to the scene and instantly becomes a media darling, adorning the cover of every magazine, being talked about at every turn and even getting a movie planned about him! How does this make Mr. Tako feel? Frustrated. Not because the bottom-feeding media are sensationalizing and capitalizing on this destructive nuclear menace that's terrorized Japan in the past, but because all that delicious publicity isn't being directed at him and his company. Sure enough, once his team finds and captures King Kong, the public's ever-fleeting attention is all shifted away from Godzilla and onto Tako and his new monster, and he absolutely relishes it.
  • Ifukube's score is fantastic. It's packed with memorable themes like the main title, Kong's theme, the ominous tones of the Seahawk's crisis, the Faro Island number, the Kong/Godzilla battle theme, and one particularly exciting cue that plays only when Kong is being prepped for balloon-lifting. Why any of this wonderful music was excised for the American release is beyond me. Here we also get the debut of what would become Godzilla's main theme, but it would never again sound like it does in this movie. Beginning with Mothra vs. Godzilla and continuing all the way through Godzilla vs. Destroyer, Ifukube reworked Godzilla's theme to sound more menacing and awe-inspiring. In King Kong vs. Godzilla, it sounds very adventurous and energetic, almost lighthearted, which suits the film perfectly.
  • I like how Kong being empowered by electricity is understated in this movie, as opposed to how it was focused on and ultimately spoiled in the American edit. In the original cut, this element of Kong's character is alluded to on Faro Island, shown (not told) when Kong raids Tokyo, and finally explicitly stated by one of the characters when Godzilla has Kong down during their final battle. It's clear that Kong's breaking through the powerlines was intended to be a moment of surprise, as at that point in the film, a first-time viewer has no reason to think that the defense line which successfully repelled Godzilla won't also work on Kong. With the American version, by having a couple of guys on a soundstage spell out Kong's electric affinity much earlier in the movie, it not only robs that moment of any suspense or surprise, it also telegraphs how Kong will ultimately prevail in the final battle.


All in all, while not one of my favorite Godzilla movies, King Kong vs. Godzilla is a highly entertaining Golden Era classic. It's a celebration of the two title characters that still holds up as nonstop fun nearly 50 years later.
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Postby ebirahsmeg1 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:53 am

jellydonut25 wrote:i think this movie features what is BY FAR Ifukube's weakest score...


I couldn't disagree more...I think it was a fantastic score, especially the final battle score (which was later reused by Ifukube in GvsKG).

King Kong's theme wasn't all that great, but everything else was vintage Ifukube (Godzilla's theme, Giant Octopus' theme, prepping the Balloons, Faro Island Dance, etc).

The omission of Ifukube's entire score in the American version (save for the Faro Island dance chant) was a crime and disgraceful.


Legion wrote:But for some reason I really can't get into King Kong vs Godzilla. Something about it doesn't engage me. Maybe it's the godawful Kong suit, or the sometimes very poor special effects or quite likely the fact that I've never seen a subtitled version of the Japanese print. Or maybe it's because every copy of the Japanese version I've seen looks like ass. Who knows. But I just prefer the three films that follow by a wide margin.


Sums up my feelings exactly. Although I would love to see the Japanese KKvsG with English subtitles (I have the R2 dvd, and you're right, it does look like crap), I doubt this will significantly change my view of the film. It's not a bad film nor do I dislike it...it's just "meh". :-\

Also, I think "G scholars" harp too much on "it's a satire on Japan's commercialism" theme and that "most people don't understand or appreciate its humor and wit"...although there's some element of truth to that, it's not quite that deep...I think they give this film too much credit in that regard.

The Kong suit in this film is so terrible, I have no desire to own any figures of it in my vinyl collection...that's how much I loathe Kong's look in this film. To the film's credit, its box office success paved the way for the Godzilla series, and nearly all of the 60s films that followed it are my favorites...
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Postby The Giant Pacific Octopus » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:55 pm

I have a question. You know that rubber lizard prop that Furue throws around and Kinsburue shoots when the men are walking through the jungles of Faroe Island?

Was that lizard prop ever reused in any other Toho production?
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Postby August » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:49 pm

I can't stand the US version — never did — although it has grown on me in recent years. As for the Japanese version, the real tragedy is that John Beck did not realize that the film was a send-up, and so he cut it to pieces. While not my favorite Showa-era Godzilla film, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was a hit because it was the right film at the right time and struck a cord with the Japanese audience — it was made as light entertainment for all ages! The best way for us to enjoy it now, is to lower the lights, put that bowl of popcorn in front of you and just enjoy the escapism it was meant to be!

As for the rubber lizard; I think he eventually wound up in the prop box for the original Svengoolie in Chicago in the late 1960s. It was later seen at a garage sale in Berwyn. Berwyn!? :D
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Postby Flame of Udin » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:09 am

August wrote:I can't stand the US version — never did — although it has grown on me in recent years. As for the Japanese version, the real tragedy is that John Beck did not realize that the film was a send-up, and so he cut it to pieces. While not my favorite Showa-era Godzilla film, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was a hit because it was the right film at the right time and struck a cord with the Japanese audience — it was made as light entertainment for all ages! The best way for us to enjoy it now, is to lower the lights, put that bowl of popcorn in front of you and just enjoy the escapism it was meant to be!


I agree, in fact the only thing keeping me wiping it from my memory (and DVD shelf) is the fact that I sat in front of the television as a wee lad in Australia with my jaw dropped watching this film and I am pretty sure I am not the only one. I can even say this film is probably the most nostalgic film I have ever seen. It was a complete shock once I managed to hunt down the Japanese version in 1990 that the film I grew up with was a completely mangled interpretation of what I should have seen instead.

August wrote:As for the rubber lizard; I think he eventually wound up in the prop box for the original Svengoolie in Chicago in the late 1960s. It was later seen at a garage sale in Berwyn. Berwyn!? :D


How on earth did that little guy end up in Chicago? Did a US import have free reign in their prop warehouse or something? That is just too nutty!
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Postby August » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:47 am

Flame of Udin wrote:I agree, in fact the only thing keeping me wiping it from my memory (and DVD shelf) is the fact that I sat in front of the television as a wee lad in Australia with my jaw dropped watching this film and I am pretty sure I am not the only one. I can even say this film is probably the most nostalgic film I have ever seen.


When I first saw it, I liked it, but I knew there was something wrong with the film, and so I leaned more towards the others — especially GODZILLA VS. THE THING, which got heavy rotation here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

August wrote:As for the rubber lizard; I think he eventually wound up in the prop box for the original Svengoolie in Chicago in the late 1960s. It was later seen at a garage sale in Berwyn. Berwyn!? :D


Flame of Udin wrote:How on earth did that little guy end up in Chicago? Did a US import have free reign in their prop warehouse or something? That is just too nutty!


I was just joking — pulling the proverbial leg. Svengoolie used lots of rubber chickens, and so I just extrapolated the joke to the rubber lizard. :P
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Postby Flame of Udin » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:22 pm

August wrote:As for the rubber lizard; I think he eventually wound up in the prop box for the original Svengoolie in Chicago in the late 1960s. It was later seen at a garage sale in Berwyn. Berwyn!? :D


Flame of Udin wrote:How on earth did that little guy end up in Chicago? Did a US import have free reign in their prop warehouse or something? That is just too nutty!


August wrote:I was just joking — pulling the proverbial leg. Svengoolie used lots of rubber chickens, and so I just extrapolated the joke to the rubber lizard. :P


Ah, ya' see! That's what happens when I pull a 24 hour schedule (actually it was 24 hrs about 6 hours ago), I'll get so loopy I'll believe anything you tell me!
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Postby August » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:27 pm

Hehehehehe! :D
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Postby jellydonut25 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:10 am

I actually prefer the US version...

have I said that in this thread already???

sorry, taking a break from doing some writing by doing some writing has a wierd affect...
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Postby MouthForWar » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:41 am

jellydonut25 wrote:I actually prefer the US version...

have I said that in this thread already???

sorry, taking a break from doing some writing by doing some writing has a wierd affect...


Uhh, may I ask why or should I assume you're experiencing a random bout of insanity?
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Postby jellydonut25 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:47 am

MouthForWar wrote:
jellydonut25 wrote:I actually prefer the US version...

have I said that in this thread already???

sorry, taking a break from doing some writing by doing some writing has a wierd affect...


Uhh, may I ask why or should I assume you're experiencing a random bout of insanity?
i just think it's a lot more enjoyable an experience.

the comedy of the japanese version just falls so FLAT for me...the American version just feels a lot more FUN to me and since the purpose of the movie is fun and not a serious social commentary, I prefer the American edit...

also, insanity.
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Postby MouthForWar » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:57 am

jellydonut25 wrote:
MouthForWar wrote:
jellydonut25 wrote:I actually prefer the US version...

have I said that in this thread already???

sorry, taking a break from doing some writing by doing some writing has a wierd affect...


Uhh, may I ask why or should I assume you're experiencing a random bout of insanity?
i just think it's a lot more enjoyable an experience.

the comedy of the japanese version just falls so FLAT for me...the American version just feels a lot more FUN to me and since the purpose of the movie is fun and not a serious social commentary, I prefer the American edit...

also, insanity.


Wait, the Japanese version isn't a serious social commentary... what the heck was serious in that movie?

I just think the American cut grinds to a screeching halt when those stupid reporters are on TV... not to mention replacing ANY Ifukube score (especially when you replace THE WHOLE THING) is just blasphemy. The American version takes itself seriously also, which is just annoying because the movie is so obviously NOT that kind of film.
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Postby jellydonut25 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:59 am

MouthForWar wrote:
jellydonut25 wrote:
MouthForWar wrote:
jellydonut25 wrote:I actually prefer the US version...

have I said that in this thread already???

sorry, taking a break from doing some writing by doing some writing has a wierd affect...


Uhh, may I ask why or should I assume you're experiencing a random bout of insanity?
i just think it's a lot more enjoyable an experience.

the comedy of the japanese version just falls so FLAT for me...the American version just feels a lot more FUN to me and since the purpose of the movie is fun and not a serious social commentary, I prefer the American edit...

also, insanity.


Wait, the Japanese version isn't a serious social commentary... what the heck was serious in that movie?

I just think the American cut grinds to a screeching halt when those stupid reporters are on TV... not to mention replacing ANY Ifukube score (especially when you replace THE WHOLE THING) is just blasphemy. The American version takes itself seriously also, which is just annoying because the movie is so obviously NOT that kind of film.
i was saying that i don't think EITHER version takes itself all that seriously and on the level of pure entertainment, i find that the American version falls a lot less flat...
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Postby The Giant Pacific Octopus » Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:28 pm

.......
Last edited by The Giant Pacific Octopus on Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby jellydonut25 » Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:03 pm

Check it out Lisa! I'm Radioactive Man!
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Postby lhb412 » Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:25 pm

Those are awesome!
:D
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Postby MouthForWar » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:35 am

The Giant Pacific Octopus wrote:Check out these cool King Kong and Godzilla costumes from 1976
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If you wear these, you'll be the coolest kids on the block during Halloween!!!


"this image or video has been moved or deleted ":(
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Postby The Giant Pacific Octopus » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:17 pm

Tell me if you can see them now.

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Postby MouthForWar » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:24 pm

Yup! :th-up: 8-)
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Postby MrShape666 » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:25 am

I'm often surprised by the amount of people who don't seem to realize that this movie is SUPPOSED to be funny.
This is THE SHAPE speaking.
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Postby king_ghidorah » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:24 am

MrShape666 wrote:I'm often surprised by the amount of people who don't seem to realize that this movie is SUPPOSED to be funny.


This is true, that's why I like the film...it's a funny satire and it works for me. What's more is that I actually like all of the human characters and the kaiju have personalities, without ever fully becoming jokes themselves. And I still believe the final battle is the best Godzilla fight ever....barely edging out DAM and GTTHM in my book.
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:56 am

I don't know what it is. When asked which films I love I rarely mention this one, yet, any time I sit down to watch it I instantly love it. The characters are great, and there tons of memorable lines. I also dig the Godzilla suit. It may be that I burned myself out on it as a kid.
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