"Conceived and Created to Startle the World!"
- King Kong ad insert
Unless you found yourself digging through mountains of movie fan and trade magazines from the 1930's, chances are you've never seen these. In the February 15, 1933 issue of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, the newly-released KING KONG grabbed the headlines with the promise of the financial "answer to [film] exhibitor's prayers. "It has everything that any showman could ask for", the story went. "It's a good picture on an entirely new theme, produced masterfully, and offering exploitation and values the like of which have hardly ever been seen in a picture before." The issue also contains a review, calling KING KONG "a great piece of imagination hatched in the brain of a showman [Merian C. Cooper] for showmen, produced in grand style and good taste and most capably acted and directed." For the movie exhibitors, KONG was a sure money-maker in a depression that was into its fourth year.
Just a couple of weeks later, the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER'S March 6th issue included a 28-page promotional insert of KING KONG. Printed in some metallic colors on a heavier paper stock than the magazine itself, RKO, the studio that produced the picture, pulled out all the stops in showing off their product.
This advert is a magnificent piece of monster movie history and is not often seen. Side-by-side with statements of praise by various trade magazines are photos of the people behind the project, including rarely seen shots of production people, such as film scorer, Max Steiner, sound recorder Murray Spivak, and screenwriters Edgar Wallace, James Creelman and Ruth Rose. A nice montage of visual effects men Willis O'Brien, Mario Larrinaga and Byron Crabbe is also included.
The insert credits are listed as: Art visualizations by Larrinaga & Crabbe, photographic art conceptions by Ernest A. Bachrach, and layout motif by Keye Luke. Luke was the Chinese-born actor and artist who played "No. 1 Son" in the CHARLIE CHAN series, Kato in the GREEN HORNET serials and later portrayed Master Po in the TV series, KUNG FU.
As the copy proclaims, "KING KONG [is] a Box-Office Bonanza As Big As a Mountain!"