KING KONG ESCAPES
1967/Director: Ishirô Honda/ Writer: Takeshi Kimura
Cast: Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller, Akira Takarada, Eisei Amamoto
I was lucky that before all my BT download problems began a month or so back I downloaded a batch of classic Toho kaiju films. Kaiju is the term for Japanese monster films, and in particular those wonderful ones with guys in rubber suits judo flipping one another all over Tokyo. I was pleasantly surprised with King Kong Escapes, the 2nd King Kong film from Toho after King vs Godzilla. It has all the trademarks of a great Toho kaiju film and was directed by Ishiro Honda, who turned out some of the beast monster films for Toho. One thing that makes this Toho monster film a little more enjoyable than some is the drama between the human being is better than usual.
First there is the crew of the US Explorer. Led by all American he man Commander Carl Nelson (Rhodes Reason) and his 2nd in command Jiro Nomure (played by Toho standard Akira Takarada) the submarine must make an emergency landing near Mondo Island, home of none other than King Kong. They ashore with head of the medical department Lt. Susan Watson (Linda Miller) who earlier got the crew to shape up by warning them she had plenty of castor oil to administer. In no time they encounter Kong who gets himself into a kung fu style brawl with Gorosaurus. Of course Kong falls for the blond Lt. and get all dreamy eyes looking at her. But she just speaks English very loudly and slowly and orders him over and over, “Put me down Kong. Down! Put me down!”, and he does.
Kong is kidnapped and soon Dr. Who has Commander Nelson on his tail, along with the UN. In these old Toho films the UN seemed to have unlimited power. In some scenes just by saying “I’m with the UN” a person is given charge of entire military units. Nelson winds and his friends wind up at the North Pole, where Who’s headquarters are, and soon wins over the “oriental Mata Hari” with little effort, simply by laying back on the sofa and acting rude and arrogant seems to make her weak. She suddenly abandons all her plans for herself and “her country” and sets the good guys free, and of course is offed by Dr Who.
Some valuable trivia from the marvelous website Monster Island News:
1. The voice of Susan Watson is not that of the American actress, Linda Miller, who played her in the film. The voice you hear is actually Julie Bennett who's voice track was dubbed into the film.
2. The film is actually a "live-action" version of the King Kong animated series that was very popular in Japan in 1966. Most fans believe that the film is a sequel to King Kong vs Godzilla which was produced in 1962, however it was never intended to be connected to that film in any way.
3. King Kong was intended to be the star of the film Ebirah: Horror of the Deep that was produced a year earlier. Toho studios had a rough time securing the rights for Kong prior to production so Godzilla was substituted at the last minute.
4. Toho had a long running love affair with King Kong. Their most famous monster, Godzilla, was first envisioned as a giant fire-breathing gorilla. Although the studio was able to secure the rights from Universal Studios for two films many more attempts were made to feature the monster. The above mentioned Ebirah and a remake or King Kong vs Godzilla in 1991 most notably King Kong Escapes, released in Japan as Kingu Kongu no Gyakush, (literally "King Kong's Counterattack"), is a Japanese/American tokusatsu film. A co-production from Toho and Rankin/Bass, it was released in Japan in 1967, and in the United States by Universal Studios the following year.
5. The film was an adaptation of episodes of Rankin/Bass and Toei Animation's The King Kong Show cartoon series. As with King Kong vs. Godzilla, Eiji Tsuburaya served as director of special effects.
This is some information on the lovely Mie Hama that I copied and pasted fromIMDB in order to just expedite the publishing of this post as I am really tired right now:
She became of the most popular actresses in Japan's "Golden Age" of Cinema, but has done little acting when Japan's cinema world experienced severe financial problems. However, she did return to appear in a few films in the 1970s and 1980s, and she is seen, most recently, working as an active environmentalist.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Oliver Chu
Because of illness during filming, Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki) was doubled in a diving scene (in "You Only Live Twice") by no less than Diane Cilento - Sean Connery's wife at the time.
Had actually appeared in almost 70 movies before she got married to 007 in You Only Live Twice.
The first Asian woman to appear in Playboy.
Was the first Asian Bond girl.
Has been called the Japanese Brigitte Bardot.
Her first name is pronounced "Mee-yay."
When producers for "You Only Live Twice" warned Mie that because she wasn't learning English quickly enough, she was going to be fired from the film, she solemnly told them that, because of her shame, she would then commit ritual suicide. Whether she was bluffing or not, the producers decided not to risk it, and she was kept on the film.