Wasei King Kong

Tagged: Film

["Japanese King Kong"] Film (1933 Japan). Shōchiku. Directed by Torajirō Saitō. Written by Akira Fushimi. Starring Hiroko Koizumi, Nagamasa Yamada, Kotarō Sekiguchi, Isamu Yamaguchi. Circa 35 minutes. Black and white.

Odd spoof of King Kong (1933), now known solely by hearsay, in which the impoverished Kōichi (Yamada) resolves to impress love-interest Omitsu (Koizumi) by capitalizing on the success in Tokyo cinemas of the recent Merian C Cooper movie. He somehow acquires the titular "Japanese King Kong" (Yamaguchi, in a monkey suit), although the creature predictably escapes with Omitsu in its grasp, and is brought down by a determined archer. Author Akira Fushimi (pseudonym for Akira Nomura, 1900-1970) largely concentrated on urban romances, but is credited here as both scenarist and adaptor, implying that he initially wrote the story for another medium. This obscure curio, regarded by some as the first "monster movie" in Japan, preceded Gojira (1954) by a generation, but all copies are believed to have been destroyed during the air raids of World War Two.

A second Japanese version, also believed lost or destroyed, was released as Edo ni Awareta King Kong ["King Kong Appears in Edo"] (1938), directed by Kumagai Sōya, in which the titular giant ape terrorizes samurai-era Tokyo, before climbing an anachronistically tall building and falling to its death. [JonC]

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