Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jessica Lange and King Kong forever

It's nice to remember how superstars got their break. Producer Dino De Laurentiis plucked an unknown Jessica Lange out of the fashion world and tossed her into his 1976 epic remake of King Kong. Director John Guillermin became mesmerized by the first-time actress and gave her one of the most ludicrous, yet shockingly attractive, screen intros in the history of film, imprinting Jessica in the libidos of males (and some females) across the planet. Her debut scene and the following sequence will leave modern viewers in absolute disbelief: Jessica (named "Dwan") is discovered by the crew of a merchant ship drifting unconscious on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Being a castaway, she's naturally wearing an extremely revealing and wet cocktail dress. Her limp body is carried by crew members to a berth, where they proceed to study her physique as if dissecting a frog. Eventually, she comes to her senses and explains, in a most Marilyn-like manner, something about having survived the sinking of a movie producer's yacht. The all-male crew provides her with some spare clothes and, in an ensuing montage, Jessica adapts to life on a cargo boat, becomes a seamstress and cuts and sews the ill-fitting garments until she creates a minuscule costume, consisting of a cut-off slinky top and cheek-revealing shorts. Guillermin's camera takes advantage of every angle, while the ship's rugged crew and co-stars struggle to stare at anything other than the obvious. From here on, we move to Skull Island, where Guillermin finds numerous opportunities to further "fetishize" our dear Jessica, including the bizarre blow job waterfall scene posted below. No director could get away with the same stunts these days, but the film did propel Jessica to fame. She made no excuses for it, took other roles and showed the world her solid acting skills. Film fans will be forever grateful for the classic production photos left behind of a painfully beautiful starlet in the hands (and fingers) of a horny giant ape. Other films have tried, but none have succeeded, although Guillermin attempted to give Tanya Roberts a similar treatment in Sheena (1984).

No comments: