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CameronH

King Kong

Should King Kong be on the AFI list?  

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  1. 1. Should King Kong be on the AFI list?

    • Yes! He’s the 8th Wonder of the World!
      12
    • No! Send in the planes!
      2

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  • Poll closed on 08/09/18 at 04:48 PM

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This week Amy & Paul unveil 1933’s seminal monster movie King Kong! They ask if this was the first true blockbuster film, discover how the distinctive animal sounds were made, and wonder what Ann sees in Jack Driscoll. Plus: primatologist Kate Gilmore stops by to explain King Kong is not a gorilla!

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(I hope no one minds that I’ve been creating these threads.)

orig

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8 minutes ago, CameronH said:

(I hope no one minds that I’ve been creating these threads.)

As long as all the yard work is done.

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10 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

As long as all the yard work is done.

It’s RAINING! It’s going to get out of control! Damn you, Zephryus! Why must you curse my curb appeal!

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Even though the spider sequence is missing, a handful of pictures exist (on mobile so, sorry, not going to look for them). These pictures and a description of the scene were used by Peter Jackson to make a recreation of the scene when he remade King Kong. Here is his version of what he believed the scene might have been:

 

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I have to question whether or not the love story was intentional terrible or not. When Denham is explaining why he needs an actress for the movie he complains that after he works hard to make a movie the critics and exhibitors claim "if this movie had a love interest it'd gross twice as much." He also cites this is what the public wants and it makes him sore. Cut to twenty minutes later or so and we have John and Ann fall in love out of nowhere. Was this the writer and director giving the critics and exhibitors what they wanted? Were they aware they were doing what they just complained about? I'd like to think this was some meta message.

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I’m listening right now but I really exactly agree with Paul & Amy. As I expressed on my Letterboxd comments, I’m quite conflicted. It’s definitely thrilling to watch and I love so much of the action! But I just can’t get over the pulpy side of it all- the dumb romance, the meta filmmaking stuff, racial and sexist stereotype, etc. (Even if it was their point to be intentionally dumb, it’s still dumb.)

so I dunno, I voted no for this to remain on the list. To me it’s like putting a comic strip on a list of best literature. 

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2 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I’m listening right now but I really exactly agree with Paul & Amy. As I expressed on my Letterboxd comments, I’m quite conflicted. It’s definitely thrilling to watch and I love so much of the action! But I just can’t get over the pulpy side of it all- the dumb romance, the meta filmmaking stuff, racial and sexist stereotype, etc. (Even if it was their point to be intentionally dumb, it’s still dumb.)

so I dunno, I voted no for this to remain on the list. To me it’s like putting a comic strip on a list of best literature. 

Oh thank god someone else feels this way. Over on the Facebook group people have been fawning over this movie all week and I just don't get it. The dialog is awful, it is really sexist, and the romance is so dumb. I understand that the movie is hugely influential  but I just don't think it has aged very well compared to something like Wizard of Oz which was released just 6 years later. 

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White privilege in action: Bring a monster to New York, have it escape, eat/kill lots of people, cause billions of dollars in structural damage, require air force assistance, and no one says a goddamn thing. Denhem wants to get to the front of the crowd to view the carcass, and everyone is just like "Ooh! That's Mr. Denhem. He caught the creature you know..." Not a single person is like "A car was thrown through my living room window and my wife was dropped to her death you shit-stain!"

Honestly, I think Denhem should  have seen some repercussions in the film as it would have made his journey would have somewhat mirrored that of Kong's. That way, when he says"It was Beauty that killed the Beast,"  he's not just talking about Kong, but the nature of obsession. (i.e. how Kong's obsession over Wray was just as self-destructive as Denhem's obsession with fame and fortune.) 

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3 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I’m listening right now but I really exactly agree with Paul & Amy. As I expressed on my Letterboxd comments, I’m quite conflicted. It’s definitely thrilling to watch and I love so much of the action! But I just can’t get over the pulpy side of it all- the dumb romance, the meta filmmaking stuff, racial and sexist stereotype, etc. (Even if it was their point to be intentionally dumb, it’s still dumb.)

so I dunno, I voted no for this to remain on the list. To me it’s like putting a comic strip on a list of best literature. 

Sorry, but I just don't see an argument for leaving it off. It's way too iconic and influential.

Personally, I find it very entertaining. Some of the racist/sexist stuff I largely chalk up to being a product of its time, and on the other hand the movie also has hints of progressivism in how it gets you to sympathize with the creature.

As a thrill ride I think it holds up marvelously. The characterization/dialogue only needs to be good enough to serve as scaffolding for the adventure spectacle, and IMO it does.

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Was this the earliest instance where, when everyone is running around in a panic, the movie cuts away to a child crying by itself in the street? You know, just so the audience knows the shit just got real.

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My question is, do we have to leave something on the list because it is considered influential? Does that automatically make it good? I'm not saying this isn't good because I have yet to see it, but a lot of these weeks we have had people come and say that a movie must stay on the list because of how influential it was. But why? I think something can be influential and then improved on in later movies. I think something can inspire artists to make better things and may have not necessarily been good itself.

This list is titled the 100 Greatest American Films, not the 100 Most Influential American Films. So, in my opinion, saying something is extremely influential has no bearing to me on whether or not it deserves to be on this list. I believe that's why I'm all for cutting out The French Connection, because I just don't think it's one of the greatest films I've ever seen despite how much it influenced.

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59 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

My question is, do we have to leave something on the list because it is considered influential? Does that automatically make it good? I'm not saying this isn't good because I have yet to see it, but a lot of these weeks we have had people come and say that a movie must stay on the list because of how influential it was. But why? I think something can be influential and then improved on in later movies. I think something can inspire artists to make better things and may have not necessarily been good itself.

This list is titled the 100 Greatest American Films, not the 100 Most Influential American Films. So, in my opinion, saying something is extremely influential has no bearing to me on whether or not it deserves to be on this list. I believe that's why I'm all for cutting out The French Connection, because I just don't think it's one of the greatest films I've ever seen despite how much it influenced.

That's how I feel about Swing Time and Titanic (less so, Titanic). And in the case of Swing Time, it's not even particularly influential. While I think lists of this sort will always be subjective, I think it has to come down more to craft than influence. Maybe even more than enjoyability. I feel like a lot of these picks are on the list because they "should be" rather than they deserve to be. 

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5 minutes ago, CameronH said:

That's how I feel about Top Hat and Titanic (less so, Titanic). And in the case of Top Hat, it's not even particularly influential. While I think lists of this sort will always be subjective, I think it has to come down more to craft than influence. Maybe even more than enjoyability. I feel like a lot of these picks are on the list because they "should be" rather than they deserve to be. 

I believe you're talking about Swing Time cause we're all just wanting Top Hot to take its place lol, right?

ETA: Also, shut your face Titanic deserves to be there LOL

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10 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

My question is, do we have to leave something on the list because it is considered influential? Does that automatically make it good? I'm not saying this isn't good because I have yet to see it, but a lot of these weeks we have had people come and say that a movie must stay on the list because of how influential it was. But why? I think something can be influential and then improved on in later movies. I think something can inspire artists to make better things and may have not necessarily been good itself.

This list is titled the 100 Greatest American Films, not the 100 Most Influential American Films. So, in my opinion, saying something is extremely influential has no bearing to me on whether or not it deserves to be on this list. I believe that's why I'm all for cutting out The French Connection, because I just don't think it's one of the greatest films I've ever seen despite how much it influenced.

So what does "good" mean in this context? Is it entirely based on our personal feelings about the movie, or are we also making an effort to look outside ourselves at how others have reacted?

The "influence" argument goes to the latter, IMO. If something has had that much influence on the culture then it must have been doing something that worked on a lot of people. I might need to step outside myself a little bit if my reaction didn't match up with that. Not necessarily that I'm going to love it, but I can use that as a way of seeing merit.

In some cases you can make the argument that the influence was mostly negative. I don't really see that with King Kong (unless you're really strongly against action/adventure movies in general), but that could be the case sometimes.

Finally, this also doesn't mean you have to put the movie on your personal Top 100. But a list like the AFI 100 is attempting to form some kind of consensus. For that maybe you do want to look more at outside factors like influence and cultural impact.

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1 minute ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

So what does "good" mean in this context? Is it entirely based on our personal feelings about the movie, or are we also making an effort to look outside ourselves at how others have reacted?

The "influence" argument goes to the latter, IMO. If something has had that much influence on the culture then it must have been doing something that worked on a lot of people. I might need to step outside myself a little bit if my reaction didn't match up with that. Not necessarily that I'm going to love it, but I can use that as a way of seeing merit.

In some cases you can make the argument that the influence was mostly negative. I don't really see that with King Kong (unless you're really strongly against action/adventure movies in general), but that could be the case sometimes.

Finally, this also doesn't mean you have to put the movie on your personal Top 100. But a list like the AFI 100 is attempting to form some kind of consensus. For that maybe you do want to look more at outside factors like influence and cultural impact.

My point is I'm saying that influential doesn't necessarily automatically equal great. Technically The Birth of a Nation is considered to be influential but that's a terrible movie that sparked the actual creation of the KKK. So yeah some technically influential movies have created negative impacts. The Blair Witch Project inspired a completely new version of the Horror genre and even made it on Roger Ebert's 10 most influential movies of the 20th century list, but I know a LOT of people that genuinely hate that movie. But even still my point is actually that let's say King Kong wasn't really received as a good movie but still sparked a revolution of new ways to tell a story, should it still be on the Greatest list?

Whether or not we think a film is good is completely subjective, as Cameron pointed out, but there are always movies we're going to think of as good or even great as a universal society. I'm saying that purely sticking a movie here that maybe a large group of people don't like solely because of it's influence muddles the point of this list.

Obviously everyone's list is going to look differently, but AFI is the one that titled this list and then curated it, so we have to the interpret what they mean by "greatest." If they just want to stick things (again like Cameron said) should be on this list rather than actually deserve to be here then I claim this whole list is then pointless because that's not actually what they think is the greatest.

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18 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

My point is I'm saying that influential doesn't necessarily automatically equal great. Technically The Birth of a Nation is considered to be influential but that's a terrible movie that sparked the actual creation of the KKK. So yeah some technically influential movies have created negative impacts. The Blair Witch Project inspired a completely new version of the Horror genre and even made it on Roger Ebert's 10 most influential movies of the 20th century list, but I know a LOT of people that genuinely hate that movie. But even still my point is actually that let's say King Kong wasn't really received as a good movie but still sparked a revolution of new ways to tell a story, should it still be on the Greatest list?

Whether or not we think a film is good is completely subjective, as Cameron pointed out, but there are always movies we're going to think of as good or even great as a universal society. I'm saying that purely sticking a movie here that maybe a large group of people don't like solely because of it's influence muddles the point of this list.

Obviously everyone's list is going to look differently, but AFI is the one that titled this list and then curated it, so we have to the interpret what they mean by "greatest." If they just want to stick things (again like Cameron said) should be on this list rather than actually deserve to be here then I claim this whole list is then pointless because that's not actually what they think is the greatest.

I guess I'd say there's a spectrum, that in considering these movies (especially from a historical perspective, as is the AFI's charter) you have to think about balancing your personal reactions against the larger context. Sometimes there will be a movie like Birth of a Nation where it's just become so toxic in a modern context because of its themes that it's going to fall off even though it's very important. Sometimes there will be movies that are super-divisive, but the movie's fans love it SO MUCH that it manages to get in there despite the haters (I'm not sure which one that would be on the current list -- Blade Runner maybe?).

There's no hard-and-fast rule here. But I will say that discussing influence is a valid argument to bring in the context of a list like this, especially since the AFI literally asked voters to consider that as part of the criteria.

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48 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I believe you're talking about Swing Time cause we're all just wanting Top Hot to take its place lol, right?

ETA: Also, shut your face Titanic deserves to be there LOL

You're right! Thanks :)

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14 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I guess I'd say there's a spectrum, that in considering these movies (especially from a historical perspective, as is the AFI's charter) you have to think about balancing your personal reactions against the larger context. Sometimes there will be a movie like Birth of a Nation where it's just become so toxic in a modern context because of its themes that it's going to fall off even though it's very important. Sometimes there will be movies that are super-divisive, but the movie's fans love it SO MUCH that it manages to get in there despite the haters (I'm not sure which one that would be on the current list -- Blade Runner maybe?).

There's no hard-and-fast rule here. But I will say that discussing influence is a valid argument to bring in the context of a list like this, especially since the AFI literally asked voters to consider that as part of the criteria.

Yes, PART of the criteria, but what I'm saying is that we can't just blanketly say that something has to stay on the list because of its influence because that does not equal greatness.

I'm just repeating myself now so I'm going to end my part of this discussion.

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3 hours ago, Solarmoon Baby said:

Oh thank god someone else feels this way. Over on the Facebook group people have been fawning over this movie all week and I just don't get it. The dialog is awful, it is really sexist, and the romance is so dumb. I understand that the movie is hugely influential  but I just don't think it has aged very well compared to something like Wizard of Oz which was released just 6 years later. 

We’re better than the FB group by far ;) 

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3 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

Sorry, but I just don't see an argument for leaving it off. It's way too iconic and influential.

Personally, I find it very entertaining. Some of the racist/sexist stuff I largely chalk up to being a product of its time, and on the other hand the movie also has hints of progressivism in how it gets you to sympathize with the creature.

As a thrill ride I think it holds up marvelously. The characterization/dialogue only needs to be good enough to serve as scaffolding for the adventure spectacle, and IMO it does.

Agreed, it is a thrill ride! A fun one. My feelings are super extreme on this—the stuff i like I LOVE and what I don’t, I detest.

That said, for a ‘top 100’ I need good writing, even a little depth. pulpy sensational effects, or amazing ballroom dancing, just isn’t enough. I need story! You say it only needs to be good enough for ‘scaffolding’ and frankly I don’t think it hits that level.

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In the episode, they touched upon how Kong doesn't seem to know or understand what death is, but what I found even more interesting was how he only times he seemed curious about it at all if the creature he kills was of the same stature as himself. When its puny, ant-like humans, he doesn't even care; but when it's something that can look him in the eye, there's a sort of reverence. It was almost like he can't process death on that scale. How can something like me die?

I think it's an interesting take - albeit, probably not an intentional take - of how we only seem to care about killing when we feel like the person/creature/animal is "like us." In a way, I think that's Kong's journey, and by proxy, the audience's. That when we're faced with something outside of our comfort zone or scope of knowledge, perhaps the best reaction isn't to just kill indiscriminately.  

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9 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

That said, for a ‘top 100’ I need good writing, even a little depth. pulpy sensational effects, or amazing ballroom dancing, just isn’t enough. I need story! You say it only needsto be good enough for ‘scaffolding’ and frankly I don’t think it hits that level.

We'll just disagree on that. I think it easily does.

Though I might also be making some concessions for the time period. This was fairly early in cinematic history, particularly for sound movies. The acting styles were still pretty stagy and declarative, and the writing probably played that up to some degree.

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