King Kong | 1933
Even after seeing Peter Jackson’s hi-tech remake, you’ll still be knocked out by the 1933 original and marvel at the technical achievement.
The landing on ‘Skull Island’ was filmed at San Pedro, near to Los Angeles Harbor, south Los Angeles near Long Beach – the mountains were painted on glass.
Several leftover sets were used by penny-pinching RKO Studios, including the native village (from King Vidor’s 1932 Bird of Paradise, and the giant wall from Cecil B DeMille’s 1927 King of Kings) on the lot at the Culver Studios, 9336 Washington Boulevard in Culver City, Los Angeles.
In turn, the giant ‘Skull Island’ gates were reused for Gone With the Wind, where – bizarrely – you can clearly see them during the burning of ‘Atlanta’.
‘Skull Island’ itself was filmed in Hollywood’s own wilderness, the caves at Bronson Canyon, about a quarter of a mile from the end of Canyon Drive in Griffith Park.
It occasionally hosted the Oscars (before the move to the purpose-built Kodak Theatre in Hollywood), and it was the site of the disastrous awards show climaxing The Naked Gun 33 1/3. It was also here that, at the 1998 Oscars, James Cameron crowned himself King of the World.
The pic, taken the day before the ceremony in March 1998, shows the Shrine gussied up for the big bash.
The 102-story skyscraper is 1,250 feet tall (1,454 feet including the antenna) and reflects New York State's unexplained nickname, the 'Empire State'.
At the time of King Kong, the Empire State was famous as he world's tallest building, a title it held for nearly 40 years, until the topping out of the World Trade Center's North Tower in 1970.
It's the focus of 1939's Love Affair, in which the plan of lovers Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer to meet atop the building is thwarted by a car accident. The film was remade in 1957, with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant, as An Affair to Remember and as Love Affair again in 1994, with Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. The Fifties version is referenced in 1993 romance Sleepless in Seattle, which also climaxes at the Empire State Building.
Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder visit the tower's Observation Deck during their carefree day out in Manhattan in Mel Brooks' The Producers, and the whole building was spectacularly destroyed in Roland Emmerich's Independence Day.