In 1976, we saw the first King Kong Remake. Producer Dino De Laurentiis had this made amid legal hassles over who actually owned the rights to King Kong. The setting is moved to the 1970’s and it is a new batch of characters. Fred Wilson is an oil executive trying to reach the newly discovered Skull Island. He is certain it will be a treasure trove of fossil fuels. Jack Prescott is a primate paleontologist who stows away. He ends up being used as the staff photographer. Finally, the freighter comes upon a raft with the unconscious Dwan, a beautiful young blonde.
The motives are different, but the results are the same. The team discovers a giant wall (a surprise as it was assumed that the island had no native peoples). The native chief is enthralled by Dwan and tries to trade girls for her. They later kidnap Dwan and offer her up to Kong. Jack leads a team to save her, and then Fred decides to bring capture Kong. It follows the original story pretty closely here (though substituting the World Trade Center for the Empire State Building).
One of the biggest changes is how Kong is a lot less sympathetic. He is a bit of a creep, at one point practically molesting Dwan. Fred Wilson is not like Carl Denham. Denham was an obsessed dreamer as well as an opportunist. Fred is simply a man of great greed.
The remake starts out serious, gets very campy and then ends with an attempt at being “powerfully dramatic”.
Of all the versions of the Kong story, this take on Skull Island is the dullest. It has few creatures and there is little sense of danger.
Kong is clearly a guy in a suit, especially noticeable when he walks. But the mechanics of the gorilla head are actually quite effective. The face is especially effective.
Overall, the 1976 remake is a dud, in spite of a fairly strong cast.