Saturday, March 18, 2023


When we we watch monster movies, most of us do so without a critical eye for the technical aspects that go into the making of the film. That's not a bad thing at all, as the sole purpose of a movie is to be entertained (with the exception of those that, to some degree or another, have something to say politically or socially) right? Viewers, though, have at least a peripheral awareness of who the director and screenwriter are, and who are cast in the various roles. After all, we all have our favorite movies, directors and actors.

One movie stands at the top of the heap (or the Empire State Building, if you will) as one of, if not, the greatest giant monster movie of all time. I'm talking about KING KONG (RKO, 1933) of course. After almost a century, Kong still has the awesome power to amaze. Harry Cunningham's armatures and Marcel Delgado's models of the giant ape were a wonder to behold and inspired many a' filmmaker to come, including a then 13 year-old Ray Harryhausen. Max Steiner's rousing score was another reason the film was so exciting.

But without skilled camerawork, the film could have easily looked a lot less than it was. The task went to Edward "Eddie" Linden, cinematographer for RKO. Despite the scope of the film, the studio had only one camera for him to use, a Mitchell Standard. It's possible that Linden used this same camera the same year when he filmed SON OF KONG.

Fast forward 70 years later and a Mitchell Standard movie camera is up for auction in England. Movie lover and camera buff, Sam Dodge, a resident of Washington State, won the bid. Since Mitchells had become rare, he wanted to know more about this vintage camera with the number, "66" stamped into it. He soon received a reply from none other than the Chairman of the archives at the American Society of Cinematographers (see below_ that confirmed that he had not only a rare camera, but one that had a special, provenance -- it was the same camera that Eddie Linden had used to film KING KONG!

Willis O' Brian and unidentified person (studio executive?).


Rip Jagger said...

Hokey Smokes! That's awesome. I love this kind of nuts and bolts behind-the-scenes stuff about old movies. New one not so much -- it's all digital. But old movies had to be made using actual physical things and they are always nifty. I just finished taking an online gander at the Enterprise in the Smithsonian before I clicked over here to check out the daily doings.

John said...

An key piece of monster memorabilia. It's amazing something like this survived through the years and looks like it's still in great shape, too.