King Kong Appears in Edo
|King Kong Appears in Edo|
|Directed by||Sōya Kumagai|
|Written by||Daijō Aoyama|
|Distributed by||Zenshō Cinema|
King Kong Appears in Edo (江戸に現れたキングコング Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu) was a 1938 two part silent period piece drama film set during the Edo period and produced by Zenshō Cinema. It is now considered to be a lost film.
One night Chinami (Reiko Mishima), the daughter of Hyoue Toba (Reizaburo Ichikawa), is mysteriously kidnapped. Hyoue offers a large reward for his daughter's rescue. Yuzuru Kawasaki (Noboru Takashima) and various other men employed by Hyoue set about searching for Chinami. However one of Hyoue's men, Magonojyō Gō (Eizaburo Matsumoto), does not partake in the search, because he was the one who had Chinami kidnapped. Magonojyō's father Senbei has a trained pet ape named "King Kong" (Ryūnosuke Kabayama) and Magonojyō used this creature to perform the kidnapping. Magonojyō has a score to settle with Hyoue because he had forced Senbei to counterfeit coins. When Senbei refused to do so, he was imprisoned by Hyoue and eventually killed. This is why Magonojyō disguised his identity and went to work for Hyoue, to get close to him in order to get revenge. Magonojyō eventually corners Hyoue and threatens him with the ape. He offers to give him the whereabouts of Chinami in exchange for the reward money. The ape then takes Hyoue to Magonojyō's secret cellar as a prisoner. The ape then goes berserk and kills Hyoue but is then fatally wounded by Hyoue's men. While all this is happening, Magonojyō leaves Edo with the reward money.
This silent period piece drama film was produced in 1938 by Zenshō Cinema. The film was broken into two parts. The first part called Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu: Henge no Maki |江戸に現れたキングコング:変化の巻 (King Kong Appears in Edo: The Episode of the Monster) was released on March 31, 1938, while the second part called Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu: Ōgon no Maki |江戸に現れたキングコング:黄金の巻 (King Kong Appears in Edo: The Episode of Gold) was released a week later on April 7, 1938. Both films ran 5 reels in length and premiered at the Yûrakukan theater in Asakusa, Tokyo.
Going by the plot synopsis as well as flyers promoting the film, it is believed by historians that the ape (looking more like a yeti) is only referred to as "King Kong" in name only and does not appear gigantic outside of promotional photos. These photos that appear on the films flyers and advertisements, depict him being so big that he is holding Chinami in the palm of his hand and is straddling buildings as he faces down Hyoue Toba's men. This, along with the fact that Zensho was a typical Poverty Row studio who did not have sound recording equipment (none of the 173 films they produced between 1936 and 1941 were talkies), leads to believe that Zensho was simply trying to capitalize on King Kong's 1938 re-issue in that country by promoting the ape as being a giant.
However "King Kong" suit creator and actor Ryūnosuke Kabayama (who later changed his name to Fuminori Ohashi and later created the ape creature seen in the 1956 film 水戸黄門漫遊記 人喰い狒々|Mito Kōmon Manyūki: Hitokui Hihi, as well as the suit for Godzilla in the original 1954 film) stated in a 1988 interview "The first model making to be counted as 'special art direction' in Japanese cinema was a giant gorilla which I did for the movie King Kong Appears in Edo fifty years ago. It was also the first movie to feature certain kinds of special effects." With this statement from the suits creator there seems to be some contradiction over the actual size of the title character.
- "King Kong Appears in Edo advertisement", Kinema Junpo, April 14, 1938
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