Classic movie site with rare images, original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
Search Index Here

Monday, January 23, 2006

Today's Glamour Starter --- Fay Wray

I had resolved to stay off the King Kong bandwagon, at least until all this excitement over the remake died down, but hanged if these dynamite art stills of Fay Wray didn't come along, and… well … here they are. Just to avoid treading on too-familiar ground, I did a quick Google image search, and found surprisingly few underclad poses of our girl. Actually, this is only a few of them, as I don’t want to bore you readers, but if there’s sufficient interest, a stimulating Part 2 may well arrive at a later date! Long before there was a King Kong DVD, there was the King Kong Treasure. Or should we call it the King Kong Falcon? Whatever term best describes the unattainable among collectors in those heady days when owning 16mm prints of favorite films was truly a mark of distinction. I’d been bitten by the collecting bug (no, let’s call it a scorpion) way back in 1964, the year I first saw King Kong on Channel 3’s Picture For A Sunday Afternoon. I’d just combined my meager purse with two other boys in the neighborhood so that our eleven dollars might obtain a pair of 8mm "home movies" from the back pages of Famous Monsters (folks, there are entire discussion groups on line devoted to this magazine alone!). Castle Film’s eight minute version of Dracula (or more if you were willing to run your projector real slow) was plenty okay with us, and all that great dinosaur footage in Official Film’s condensation of the 1925 Lost World would be seared into our memories for life. King Kong, however, was not even available in 8mm, not no way, not no how. If you wanted to see that, you’d have to wait for it on television, and by the mid- sixties, with color TV gaining its foothold, those old B/W movies were suddenly becoming passe; even the really great ones like King Kong were being pushed aside in favor of things like Taza, Son Of Cochise, and Ten Thousand Bedrooms. Our search for Kong became as frustrating as Jack Driscoll’s. The first breakthrough came surprisingly in a theatrical revival, just after I’d turned sixteen in 1970. Janus Films of New York, they of the foreign imports and art-house successes, picked up "The Mighty Monarch Of Melodramas" and added a little spice to the program that would rock Kong fandom to its very foundations. Rediscovered footage, long buried in a collector’s attic (why is it always the attic?), promised long suppressed, graphic footage that would make the old mealy-mouthed King Kong look like one of the Marquis chimps. Imagine my anticipation when I literally ran out of the school building, drove ninety MPH through a rainstorm (the Lord really does protect fools and children) in order to catch the 4:00 show at the Carolina Theatre in Winston-Salem, NC (it was an hour from home). I watched the thing three times that weekend, and yes, I know I should have been slapped into military school instead and taught real discipline, or at the very least, compelled to play junior varsity football, but thank heaven my parents weren’t like that, and besides, when a child has reached this level of disorder, what can one do? At least I’d seen King Kong again, and within two years, when I began collecting 16mm film, I knew I had to own King Kong as well. Now, if you wanted to possess King Kong during those peak days of film collecting (that is, before DVD essentially wiped it all out), you had several ways to go. First was the "dupe" route. That’s just a print off a print … a muddy, bootlegged, unworthy thing. And you’d be clipped by $160 even for that. Alright, fair enough, but does it have the outtakes? After the Janus re-issue, no one wanted to see Kong again without the outtakes. Try explaining an incomplete print to a surly audience in your parent’s basement! They want to see Kong using natives for toothpicks, and dropping Gary Cooper’s future wife from that apartment building! What makes your film collection so special if you can’t give them that? The answer, of course, was to get a Janus print, or at least a dupe off a Janus print. Those tended toward $175+, assuming you could find one. But wait! How about that "monkey" print (so called because of the cryptic title etched on to the leader negative), so recently discovered in England, and spirited out aboard a clipper ship bound for the Americas? Could one of those be had? Well, yes, if you knew a collector who knew the collector who’d made that dangerous voyage. The monkey prints were supposed to be the best. Their only superior would be an original Janus print, and you’d have to commit a felony to get one of those (that’s okay, just tell us when and where!). A monkey print would even trump an original C&C (a note here for the uninitiated … C&C prints were those generated for TV distribution after RKO sold its library in 1955). I can’t recall the number of King Kong prints we used to "check out" at collector conventions over the years. I do have a vague memory of the night I ran my (first) print of Kong in the smoke-filled den of a crowded fraternity house back around 1974. We’d mixed a lethal potion called PJ, a fruity, alcohol-laced concoction that put everyone in a proper festive mood for the big ape thriller, and believe me, after working your way to the bottom of one of those PJ barrels, reel changes do not come easy, especially when your fingers feel thick as bananas, and they're asking you to repeat the picture over and over again! Well, all of that’s smoked meat now. The day King Kong was released on DVD, I dropped by the Wal-Mart right after Frugal Breakfast, and paid $20 plus change for the absolute best presentation of that movie I’d seen in all my years of Kong pursuit. Rest assured that irony wasn’t lost on me. Decades of travel, expense, and heartache in search of the perfect print of King Kong … and it all ends at a Wal-Mart store not half-a-mile from my front door. I guess that’s real progress.


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Still fantastic! Utterly wonderful website. The Fay Wray pix are amazing. I am just south of the border (Cola,SC) and we had a pretty decent theater (complete with Balcony!) called the Jefferson Square Theater- perhaps the last theater of its kind standing in Columbia and is now gone. When "Wizard of Oz", "Casablanca", and "Snow White" hit the Anniversary Rerelease circuit in the 80s, I was fortunate to see them there in conditions and a huge screen- what must have been similar to their original majesty. Thanks again- hope you don't mind my linking to you and posting about your site today.
(PS- loved the Hitch stuff)

9:03 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

PS- I am submitting my order for Part 2 of Fay Wray, if you please! Thanks

9:05 AM  
Blogger normandie said...

Beautiful photos!
I must say I was very dissapointed with the remake! All that hype.... and such a letdown in the end.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Axe said...

My compliments on your fascinating site! And please-- I'd also enjoy the next set of Fay Wray pics :-)

Thanks for the site.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 16mm print I still run. Has the outakes. Nothing like projected film, still, even with the headaches.

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, more Fay Wray.


4:26 PM  
Blogger StevensScope said...

This website is such an absolute joy to visit, and what an addiction it has become! One subject leads into another, and like a good book, it's difficult to take a break! I just HAD to share with you the following CRAZED COLLECTOR experience of LONG-AGO. A DUPE; probably THE WORST DUPE of ANY DUPE of ALL TIME, PERIOD, of 'KONG'... MINUS the OUT-TAKES to BOOT! (guessing now some half-century later, as to the reason why I started wearing GLASSES somewhere along the way!!) Explaining to my friends what LUCK I had in finding this print(which could have been used for an EYE-CHART at the Doc's office!), as well as the luck also found for them just to be the audience in front of MY living-room screen watching this 3-REEL TRYING- TO- FOCUS MESS of an excuse of a print SO BAD that, well, at least the SOUND was OK as I unspooled this eye torture;..... at least MAX STEINER'S MUSIC CAME pounding THROUGH my BELL&HOWELL SPEAKER as I blurted out at the end of the show: " about that MUSIC!!??'or some other diversion from the obvious fact of the torture-chamber experience that I had just put my friends through! Did I send the print back to this crook that had passed it to me, or did I continue to watch this LAB-NIGHTMARE-REJECT which was probably snatched out of some trash bin, somewhere??! senses could take no more, and months later I finally parted with it, and THAT story could be told on ANOTHER SAVED rainy day!! Thanks for letting me share this, yet it's just another story of that wonderful era... sometimes it seems like it was just a moment ago.. searching endlessly for a print of a favorite film; and the JOY of it all, especially when we would finally locate one! END NOTE: When the JANUS print restoration of the late 1960's was shown at a local theatre with the missing footage viewed for the first time by us KONG-FANATICS..! Well...THAT HAD to be one of the most emotionally charged 'thrills of a lifetime' watching; and yes, you could expect THIS fanatic to stay and watch it again that evening, leaving the theatre in a daze...WHAT A REVIVAL!!! Thanks again.

7:18 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thanks a lot for the kind words, Steven, and for that great Kong collecting story!

7:59 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017
  • May 2017
  • June 2017
  • July 2017
  • August 2017
  • September 2017
  • October 2017
  • November 2017
  • December 2017
  • January 2018
  • February 2018
  • March 2018
  • April 2018
  • May 2018
  • June 2018
  • July 2018
  • August 2018
  • September 2018
  • October 2018
  • November 2018
  • December 2018
  • January 2019
  • February 2019
  • March 2019
  • April 2019
  • May 2019
  • June 2019
  • July 2019
  • August 2019
  • September 2019
  • October 2019
  • November 2019
  • December 2019
  • January 2020
  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020
  • May 2020
  • June 2020
  • July 2020
  • August 2020
  • September 2020
  • October 2020
  • November 2020
  • December 2020
  • January 2021
  • February 2021
  • March 2021
  • April 2021
  • May 2021
  • June 2021
  • July 2021
  • August 2021
  • September 2021
  • October 2021
  • November 2021
  • December 2021
  • January 2022
  • February 2022
  • March 2022
  • April 2022
  • May 2022
  • June 2022
  • July 2022
  • August 2022
  • September 2022
  • October 2022
  • November 2022
  • December 2022
  • January 2023
  • February 2023
  • March 2023
  • April 2023
  • May 2023
  • June 2023
  • July 2023
  • August 2023
  • September 2023
  • October 2023
  • November 2023