82 years ago today, a monster the likes of which had never before been seen took a big bite out of the Big Apple, NYC. On March 7, 1933, RKO Pictures unveiled the premiere screening of King Kong, the studio’s groundbreaking creature feature.
Directed by RKO’s head of production, Merian Cooper, along with and Ernest B. Schoedsack, the film represented a major step forward in the realistic rendering of monsters onscreen. It was special effects genius Willis O’Brien--who created the animated models of Kong – plus the island’s dinosaurs that he battles with to save the life of actress Ann Darrow (played by Fay Wray) – who gave Kong life, and created the mighty mythic monster who stood head and shoulders above anything that had been created before or since.
Although constrained by budgetary limitations because of the Depression, King Kong was one of the biggest hits of the year, scoring great reviews. Although the occasionally shaky effects were now and at the time somewhat mocked by a small minority, most viewers were too caught up in the spectacle and story to complain.
In 1991, the film was deemed "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Though two prominent remakes, in 1976 and 2005, have subsequently attempted to recreate its magic, the original film is still almost universally acknowledged as the best.