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Thread: A Celebration of Showa Godzilla Cinema

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    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    A Celebration of Showa Godzilla Cinema

    All of you on this board who know thing one about me, know that I have loved Godzilla for a loooooonng time - but I don't think that many of you know just how long I mean when when I say "a looooonnnng time." For those of you who need to be brought up to speed, consider the below picture.



    By my reckoning, this picture was taken no later than Easter weekend 1979. I'm the guy on the right, in case you were wondering, and that's my Godzilla doll, which was my teddy bear. I still miss that thing.

    I've loved Godzilla flicks all my life. My own Mom and Dad tell me that the first movie they could get me to sit through without pitching a fit was Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster (Bambi was a shitshow, FYI) and after that, they were searching for any local showing of any G-flick cuz they knew I would be transfixed and they could get some down time. That's how I saw Gigan, Megalon, you name it. 40 years later, it still works, only this time it is my children who are benefiting from my obsession. Just pop in a Showa G-Flick and I'm good for the next two hours, guaranteed.

    But enough about me, let's talk about the Showa Era, which was the reign of Emperor Showa, known more generally as Emperor Hirohito. It saw a rather... tumultuous time for our friends in The Land of the Rising Sun - a move toward totalitarianism, ultra-nationalism, and imperialism which, well, cost them dearly - they remain, after all, the only nation to suffer a direct nuclear strike.

    The Showa Era would start in 1926, and go to 1989. And this is where the Showa Era Godzilla films get their name - they had a single continuity from Gojira in 1954 through the last Showa Era Godzilla movie, The Terror of Mechagodzilla, in 1975. Curiously, Godzilla 1984 (Godzilla 1985 in America) which technically was released in the Showa Era, is considered a Heisei era Godzilla film, but we can talk about that when the Heisei Criterion Collection is released.

    Here is the plan. I am going to watch the Godzilla films in the order they were released, leveraging as much as I can the understanding I have gained through the decades of studying Japanese film, Japanese history, Japanese culture, and, yes, even Japanese language. I love these films, and I love these people. My hope is that after reading all of this self indulgence, you just might understand why.

    Tomorrow I'll lay out the context, showing you the artists and dreamers, both behind the camera and in front of it, who were responsible for bringing these great beautiful messes to life. Then I will lay into the films, starting with a side by side comparison of Gojira, the original Japanese release, with Godzilla, the American release. Stay tuned!
    Last edited by bac0n; 01-17-2020 at 04:19 AM.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

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    Replacing Luck Since 1984 Dukefrukem's Avatar
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    quarantined Skitch's Avatar
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    Oh man am I here for this. Other than the Nolan bawm, this is the only thread on Match Cut that I can hear score when I click on it.
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    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Anybody who's sat through the credits at the end of a movie know that it takes a lot of people to make a film, and the Godzilla Showa films were no exception. Here are some of the major players who made the films that captivated me in my youth and still excite me to this very day.

    BEHIND THE CAMERA



    The Dreamer: Tomoyuki Tanaka, Producer
    If any one man can be called The Father of Godzilla, it's Tomoyuki Tanaka. The story goes that he was on a flight back to Japan from a failed attempt at making a war film in Indonesia, when he looked down at Bikini Atoll, where not long before the United States had tested the hydrogen bomb, a hundred times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He wanted to create something that symbolized the horror of the atomic age, and Godzilla was born. Tanaka-sama would go on to produce every film in the Showa Era, and also the Heisei era after that, dying two years after the last Godzilla film in the Heisei Series, Godzilla vs. Destroyah, was released. Roland Emmerich's 1998 Godzilla film was dedicated to Tanaka's memory, making that about the only thing that film did right.



    The Storytellers: Ishiro Honda & Jun Fukuda, Directors
    All but two of the Showa Era Godzilla films would be directed by one of these two men, but by and large, the director most associated with the franchise is Ishiro Honda, and deservedly so, for he is the one who came up with the original story and directed the original Gojira, as well as some of the most loved films in the series - Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster and Destroy all Monsters, definitely the most iconic of the Showa g-flicks. A few films into the Showa era, tho, he would move on to work with his best buddy, a filmmaker you may have heard of, one Akira Kurosawa (cheers, KF). Taking the helm in his place would be Jun Fukuda, who would add his own touch to the films, with a more light-hearted, action-oriented approach, directing such classics as Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla, the zany Godzilla vs. Megalon, and the woefully underappreciated Ebirah Horror of the Deep.



    The Magician: Eiji Tsuburaya, Director of Special Effects
    There are people who call Eiji Tsuburaya the Japanese Ray Harryhausen, but I disagree: Ray is the American Eiji Tsuburaya. I'm kidding. Sorta. All joking aside, there is a definite relationship between the accomplishments of the two, as Tsuburaya, inspired by Harryhausen's stop-motion work on King Kong and The Beast From 20000 Fathoms, wanted to employ similar techniques for Godzilla. Unfortunately, such an approach was unpractical for the scale of monster work that Eiji envisioned, so he went with a different approach, putting a man in a rubber suit and have him smash miniature towns - and thus was born one of the most enduring tropes of Daikaiju Cinema.

    Fun fact: by the time Godzilla was to start, Eiji had his own production company, Tsuburaya Productions, which would go on to create the Ultraman series, and with it, an entire new genre of films and TV shows called Tokusatsu - giant robots whooping monster ass - which would birth such franchises as Kamen Rider, Zone Ranger, Giant Robo, and of course the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.



    The Artist: Akira Ifukube, Composer
    John Williams. John Barry. Danny Elfman. And yes, Akira Ifukube. There are few people who have produced so iconic and memorable a soundtrack to a particular film as Akira Ifukube. He originally wanted to be a forest ranger, but an injury forced him into something a little less physically demanding, so he opted for composing music. It's his previous life as a forest ranger that got him his first soundtrack writing gig for the movie Snow Trail, which also happens to be Toshiro Mifune's first acting gig. Go figure.

    Fun fact: In addition to creating the legendary Godzilla March, Ifukube is also credited with coming up with Godzilla's iconic roar - by drawing a leather strap along the strings of a stand-up bass.

    Next: a look at some of the stars who shined in front of the camera.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

  6. #6
    The Pan
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    I'm loving this. I, too, have loved Godzilla since childhood.

    I didn't know about the birth of Godzilla's roar. That is cool beans.

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    can recall his past lives origami_mustache's Avatar
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    Cool! I binged through all the Godzilla and adjacent films up through the 60s a few years ago and posted screenshots on my blog. It was a lot of fun. Eventually I'd like to get through the 70s films too.
    White Chicks (Keenen Ivory Wayans, 2004) - 6
    Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov, 2019) - 8.5
    Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (Kinji Fukasaku, 1972) - 8.5
    Baby It's You - (John Sayles, 1983) - 8.5
    Stand By Me (Rob Reiner, 1986) - 8
    Tromeo & Juliet (Lloyd Kaufman, 1996) - 7
    Blood Sucking Freaks - (Joel M. Reed, 1976) - 5
    Surf Nazis Must Die - (Peter George, 1987) - 5
    Frightmare (Norman Thaddeus Vane, 1983) - 5
    Nowhere (Gregg Araki, 1997) - 7


    mubi

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    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    At some point that Criterion box set will be mine. Oh yes.
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    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting MadMan (view post)
    At some point that Criterion box set will be mine. Oh yes.
    Oh, its definitely worth the money. There is a lot of new info that I have learned, and the interviews with Akira Takarada and Akira Ifukube could not be more charming.


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    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

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    IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA


    The Man in the Rubber Suit: Haruo Nakajima
    If you watched a Toho daikaiju film between the years of 1954 and 1972, chances are you were watching Haruo Nakajima in the monster suit. Not even that, he also made appearances in several noteworthy Kurowawa (cheers KF) films, including Seven Samurai and Yojimbo (sans suit, of course). You'd think that any old fella could hop in a giant monster suit and stomp around, but Eiji Tsubaraya considered Nakajima's work invaluable, and insisted that Nakajima do the honors every time. Regardless, Nakajima was a total badass, working through multiple injuries, particularly in the original Gojira, and working inside of a heavy stifling bulky sauna, especially within the first iterations of the Godzilla suits.

    Fun Fact: Godzilla King of the Monsters (2019) was dedicated to Nakajima's memory.


    The Respected Elder: Takashi Shimura
    It cannot be overstated, the amount of legitimacy that the involvement of Takashi Shimura lent to the original Gojira project, which apart from him, was largely cast with relatively unknown actors. Already an industry titan when Gojira was released, Shimura had 20 years and over a hundred films under his belt, including such landmark works as Drunken Angel, Rashomon, Ikiru, and of course Seven Samurai, which released only a few months before Gojira did in 1954. How's that for a year's worth of work: Playing the role of the elder Samurai in what would become a pillar of cinema, and then a few months later, playing the role of the elder scientist in another pillar of cinema?

    Fun Fact: Shimura can trace his lineage directy to actual samurai.


    The Dashing Hero: Akira Takarada
    Daikaiju flicks have had many dashing heroes over the years, but Akira Takarada has filled that role more than his fair share, from the Original Godzilla, to Mothra vs. Godzilla, even taking a turn as an anti-hero in Ebirah Horror of the Deep. His most recent Toho Godzilla role was in the movie Final Wars, where he played the role of Japan's Prime Minister. Takarada remains grateful of his legacy and of his fans to this day, and still travels the world to various conventions in his 80s. He made it all the way to Chicago for G-fest as recently as 2012.

    Fun Fact: Takarada filmed scenes for Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla, but they were ultimately deleted, despite his name remaining in the credits. Reminds me that I need to check the deleted scenes for that film...


    The Troubled Genius: Akihiko Hirata
    With the most recognizable role in the original Gojira film, Hirata would make his first mark as the troubled scientist Dr. Serizawa, faced with the impossible decision of saving Japan at the risk of dooming the world. He would go on to be perhaps the most prolific actor in the Toho stable, appearing in most of the Showa era films in some way or another, and many Tokosatsu programs as well, before bookending the Showa Era Godzilla films in Terror of Mechagodzilla, as, you guessed it, a troubled scientist.


    The Smartest Man in the Room: Hiroshi Koizumi
    Speaking of doctors, another of the Daikaiju tropes is that no matter how outrageous the initial hypothesis, the scientist is always right - and most of the time, that scientist would be Hiroshi Koizumi. Although his first daikaiju role was actually in Godzilla Raids Again as an airplane pilot, every role that would follow would be that of a doctor or scientist, starting with Mothra as Chujo-sensei, then Godzilla vs. Mothra as Mirua-sensei, then Ghidorah as Miura-sensei, then Mechagodzilla as Wagura-Sensei. In his old age he would lament that he could have put more effort into his acting, but I disagree; the role of the calm, handsome know-it-all he sank into as comfortably as putting on a pair of slippers.

    Fun Fact: Koizumi would also play a professor in the Heisei Era Return of Godzilla (1984) as well as reprising his role from Mothra for Millenium Era Godzilla X Mechagodzilla: Tokyo SOS, which means he played some sort of professorial role in three of the four Godzilla film eras (sadly, he passed away a year before the start of the Reiwa Era, which commenced with 2016's Shin Gojira).

    Next: Gojira (the 1954 original) & Godzilla King of the Monsters (the 1956 Americanized version) side-by-side comparison
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

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    Takashi Shimura was indeed next level.

    I love what you said about his presence lending legitimacy to the project. Would you equate that to, say, Bryan Cranston in the 2014 film?

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    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    Takashi Shimura was indeed next level.

    I love what you said about his presence lending legitimacy to the project. Would you equate that to, say, Bryan Cranston in the 2014 film?
    I definitely would, good point. I imagine Godzilla 2K14 would not have done nearly as well at the box office, were it not for Cranston's involvement.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

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    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    Takashi Shimura rocks.
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    Gojira (1954) & Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

    Although built on the same skeleton, starring the same people (mostly) and shot with the same cameras (mostly), the American and Japanese releases of the original Godzilla are completely different films. The difference can be summarized with the treatment of a single shot in act two, a brief scene involving a mother and her children, no more than ten seconds long, which appeared in the second act when Godzilla was laying waste to Tokyo.



    But before I describe the scene, I want to briefly touch on the social and political climate existing at the time in the two countries into which the films were thrust.

    In Japan, the threat of nuclear holocaust was a very real and palpable thing. Although nine years had passed since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the American occupation following the war had ended only two years prior. This is important, considering that The Americans during the occupation were pretty much in control of the Japanese press, and basically censored any press casting them in a less than positive light - and this included anything to do with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. It wasn't until the occupation ended in 1952 that the stories of the human cost, the horrifying devastation of the bombings, started becoming common knowledge. So, for many Japanese in the year 1954, the horror was very new, the wound was very fresh.

    And then there was The Daigo Fukuryū Maru.

    With a name that, in retrospect, rather ironically translates to "Lucky Dragon Number Five", the fishing vessel carried a crew of 23 men, and they had the misfortune of being too close to The Bikini Atoll on March 1 1954, when the US detonated their first hydrogen bomb. Although well outside of the US restricted zone, they were well inside the range of the irradiated ash that rained down upon them, this atomized death that would eventually be called "fallout". All of the crew got sick with radiation poisoning. Six months later, one of them died. The story ruled the headlines all that year. A little over a month after the Lucky Dragon's crewman's death, the tragedy still fresh in peoples' minds, Gojira was released.

    Meanwhile, in America, a different trouble was on peoples' minds. The late forties through the middle fifties saw the rise of the second Red Scare, which manifested in sinister form under the moniker of McCarthyism, and 1954 was the year that the wave finally crashed with six simple words: "have you no sense of decency?"

    Still, the Korean War had just ended, and sabre rattling was in full swing at the time, with many in Hollywood having had their careers ruined by being labeled as communist sympathizers, so there was little appetite in making anti-war films and getting on the radar of the House Unamerican Affairs Committee. Still, people liked their big blockbuser movies, and execs in Hollywood saw the opportunity for making some bucks with taking a Japaneses monster movie and... doctoring it up a bit.

    So, back to that scene.

    In both, it's ashot of a mother and her children cowering in terror as Godzilla approaches. In the American version, we linger for a second or two, then it's back to Godzilla without much to say. The mother is saying something, but it's untranslated, and amidst the cacophony, comes across simply as terrified whimpering.

    In the original Japanese version, though, we find out what she is actually saying. Six simple words:



    With a simple translation, what was originally presented to the Americans as, forgive my callousness, as a set piece, becomes an absolutely devastating statement in its original portrayal: a doomed mother trying to comfort her doomed children by saying they shall soon join their dead father, presumably lost in the war, in death.

    And Honda won't let you look away from it, either. He lingers on that shot for a while, to make sure it sinks in and hits you right square in the sternum. And that is indicative of his approach to the entire film as a whole, which presents itself not as a blockbuster giant monster mayhem extravaganza, but as a metaphor, a statement of the horrors of war and of the atomic age, and of the struggles of a Japan caught in a crossroads, between a future coming too fast and a past it hadn't yet reconciled with.

    By this comparison, the American version doesn't hold up so well as a film on its own, to be perfectly honest with you, but knowing the context in which it was made does turn it into an interesting lens into the attitudes of the time. Aaron Burr, the tall dark, handsome and resolute reporter who serves as a symbol of American exceptionalism, and in a way, a hopeful sense that Japan and America have patched their differences and are okay now, and it did, after all, serve as a foot in the door for Japanese cinema worldwide.

    A Japanese American served as Aaron's side kick and proxy, explaining to American audiences the goings on unfolding around them. However, he was for the most part subservient to Burr, despite being a law figure, in which case it should have been the other way around. I wonder what was going through the mind of Frank Iwanaga, who played Burr's handler, as he was shooting his scenes. I wonder if he spent time in Japanese internment camps...

    Be that as it may, if you've only seen the American version of Godzilla, you really owe it to yourself to see the Japanese version.

    Next: Godzilla Raids Again
    Last edited by bac0n; 01-22-2020 at 01:16 AM.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

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    The Pan Scar's Avatar
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    I think I've experienced the opposite of what you said at the end of this entry, bac0n - I've only ever seen the Japanese original, and never the Americanized version.

    This made me want to watch both, double feature style.

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    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    I think I've experienced the opposite of what you said at the end of this entry, bac0n - I've only ever seen the Japanese original, and never the Americanized version.

    This made me want to watch both, double feature style.
    Wow, lucky you! I didn't see the original Japanese version until it was released to the theatres in 2004 for its 50th anniversary. Needless to say, it was a rather mind-blowing experience.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

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    Godzilla Raids Again (1955)



    As you may have guessed, Gojira was a huge hit when it was released in fall of 1954, and a mere three weeks later, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was ordered to pound out a follow-up so as to capitalize on the hype and popularity of the big beast. Oh, and Tomoyuki, old buddy, old pal, ya got five months to do it. Gulp!

    Unfortunately, director Ishiro Honda was already committed, so they brought aboard studio workhorse director Motoyoshi Oda, used to getting the garbage films no-one else wanted to touch, who brought in his own composer, Masaru Sato, who would go on to score almost all of Akira Kurosawa's films (cheers, KF). So, no Akira Ifukube and his Godzilla March. Fortunately, they were able to get Eiji Tsuburara to do the special effects again, who had all sorts of lessons learned from the first film he was able to apply in his second go, most notably a Godzilla suit that was much lighter, more mobile and more merciful to Haruo Nakajima, who would return to play Godzilla for a second time.

    Of course, with such a quick turnaround time, they didn't really have the luxury of creating a well thought out script, so Godzilla Raids Again went with the classic sequel formula, trading nuance for more explosions, more mayhem, and, yes, more monsters - Godzilla Raids Again introduced the enduring concept of Godzilla fighting some other giant beast, as well as a lot of the other things we would come to expect in a daikaiju flick: famous landmarks getting trashed? Check. Cheesy expository dialog? Check. Plot devices designed to get humans in the way of the giant monsters? Check. Really, when you think about it, it is Godzilla Raids Again and not Gojira that can truly be called the first true daikaiju film.

    With this in mind, you may be surprised to find out that Godzilla Raids Again, of all the Showa Era Godzilla films, is the one it took me the longest to actually see for the first time. I don't think I actually saw it until it was released on a special edition DVD about ten years ago, and I must admit, watching it for the first time was kind of... well, weird.

    The reason for this is simple: Godzilla's enemy in this film is Anguirus, the giant anklyosaurus with a roar almost as recognizable as Godzilla's own, and the Godzilla films I had grown up with had the two of them working together as best buds. Anguirus was the Robin to Godzilla's Batman, the Mork to Godzilla's Mindy, the Walker to Godzilla's Texas Ranger. Further, I pretty much knew what the outcome of an early confrontation between the two would be like, and I was reluctant to sit through it - I doubt they would stop mid fight, pat each other on the back and go out for drinks, ya know?

    And speaking of the fights, wow, the trope of the big bulky slow moving beasts was still years off from being established. In fact, in this movie the fights are just the opposite - they're abnormally fast, comically so, to the point that you half expect the Benny Hill theme to start playing as they're hustling, bumbling and bopping each other up and down Osaka. The reason for the frenetic speed would be due to a mishap on the part of one of the cameramen, who had his camera set to the wrong speed. They didn't find out about the mistake until after everything had been shot, and by then, they had neither to time nor the budget to re-shoot it. Whoops! Tsuburaya was forced to go with the sped up footage.

    All in all, this movie was basically a cash-grab, and is one of the weaker films in the series. The Godzilla fights as mentioned were unintentionally silly due to the abnormally fast speed, and the human drama consisted of cardboard characters who it was hard to really care about. There was no real sense of dread or destruction either - all the monster mayhem felt detached and lacking of consequence. This movie did, on the other hand, see the introduction of a very young Hiroshi Koizumi, who would go on to be a mainstay in the 1960s, the Golden Era of Godzilla films, if I may be so bold.

    Also, I must give credit to Tsuburaya's special effects team - they really upped the ante in terms of production values compared to the first film, which was all the more impressive given how little time they had to do it.

    Commercially, Godzilla Raids Again landed with a thud. Sure, it made its money back and was moderately successful at the box office, but it generated nowhere near the excitement that its predecessor did. At that point, Toho was pretty much ready to throw in the towel - it would be another eight years before another Godzilla movie would come out, and the idea for that movie - King Kong vs. Godzilla - was not even Toho's idea. But that's a story for a different post.

    Next: King Kong vs. Godzilla
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

  19. #19
    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    I wasn't a fan of Godzilla Raids Again. I love King Kong vs Godzilla.
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    King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963)



    I never knew until I started reading up on the production of Toho's most successful daikaiju flick of just how much drama was involved in getting KKvs.G to the screen. Betrayal, arguments, conflicting visions, the creation of this film is worth a film of its own.

    The trouble began before production even started. American special effects pioneer Willis H. O'Brien had an idea for a movie which would put King Kong up against some giant Frankenstein monster. For those of you who don't know, Willis was the guy who did all the stop motion work that brought the original Kong to life onscreen. If anybody can be called The Father of King Kong, it's Willis H. O'Brien.

    So, looking to get his film made, Willis hands a script outline to producer John Beck. John Beck likes it, but rather than involving Willis in the project, instead decides to stab Willis in the back and take the stolen script outline to Toho studio, who likes the idea too, only lets have Kong fight Godzilla instead of Frankenstein, and off they went, with O'Brien left in the dust. I'm not sure if Willis ever found out about Beck's treachery, as he passed away before King Kong vs. Godzilla was released.

    Toho was able to get Ishiro Honda to direct again and Akira Ifukube to return to do the music. Getting Eiji Tsubarya to do the special effects was especially easy, as Tsubaraya was a huge fan of King Kong and jumped at the chance to make a movie with the big ape.

    Some familiar faces returned in front of the camera as well, including Akihito Hirata (Dr. Serizawa in the first film) who would again play a scientist, albeit a less troubled one this time. Mie Hama, who would later go on to play Bond Girl Kissy Suzuki, and would play the devious Lady Piranha in the other Toho King Kong vehicle, King Kong Escapes, would also star as the wife of the main protagonist slash mandatory lady that Kong grabs, falls in love with, then climbs up a building holding (spoiler alert: the relationship doesn't work out).

    Right from the start of production, there was conflict behind the camera. Honda, ever the auteur, wanted Godzilla again to be a metaphor of sorts, and the movie to be a statement against Japan's new monster: television. Specifically, he wanted to create a movie that discusses Japan's addiction to this new medium, and the increasingly puerile and exploitative garbage being beamed to the masses. Tsubaraya, on the other hand, was more interested in targeting a wider audience (read: children), and opted for making the monster fights more cartoonish. Honda didn't like this one bit, but ultimately, this would be a fight he would not win. Toho took Tsubaraya's side, marking the birth of another daikaju cinema trope: the borderline comical monster fights and outrageous monster moves.

    Honda did get to sneak in a bit of his vision, however: the main plot device getting Kong to Japan is a television station trying to enlist him for a ratings boost, and the head of said TV station was depicted as a short-sighted, bumbling buffoon, and of course he learns a hard lesson when Kong immediately runs amok upon his arrival in Tokyo.

    But at the end of the day, it was all about the monster mayhem, as King Kong vs. Godzilla marked a real shift from the more weighty subject matter of the first two Godzilla films, towards the less serious films that would follow. It also is noteworthy in that it is the first film in which either of the eponymous monsters would appear in color, and also the first (and last) time where a real life monster was to be used in a monster fight - Kong's first battle in the film was against a giant octopus, and an actual octopus, set against a miniature village, was used in the filming of that fight scene.

    More importantly, though, the movie did bank. It did MAJOR bank - enough to get Toho to see the money-drawing potential of the Godzilla Franchise and to shift their attention towards making regular Godzilla movies as quickly as they could. By comparison, 8 years passed between the release of King Kong vs. Godzilla and its predecessor, Godzilla Raids Again. After KKvs.G, no more than two years would pass between releases for the rest of the Showa Era, with a whopping TEN G-flicks released in the 60s, two of them released in 1964 alone.

    How does it stack against the rest of them, though? I would put it in the middle, notably mainly in that it serves as an interesting bridge between the two Godzilla films that came before and the more playful ones that would follow, the Godzilla films such as Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster and Destroy All Monsters that I am most fond of in the Showa Era. I tend not to watch this one as much because, well, as a Godzilla opponent, I just don't find King Kong that interesting. For King Kong action, I much prefer Toho's King Kong Escapes, because it is just so over-the-top ridiculous as to have its own gleeful charm.

    In closing, one thing I want to quick point out, is that there is a common belief that two versions of this film exist: an American version where King Kong wins, and a Japanese version where Godzilla wins. This is not true, the victor doesn't change between versions. As to who that is, I will leave to you, kind reader, to discover on your own.

    Next: Mothra vs. Godzilla
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

  21. #21
    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    I cannot wait for the quasi remake of Kong vs Godzilla which will come out. Also King Kong vs Godzilla was the first movie I ever bought on VHS from Wal-Mart back when I was in middle school. I must have seen it countless times.
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  22. #22
    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm looking forward to the new Kong vs. Godzilla too - tho I am certain they will need to team up at some point to battle a greater threat - (Mechani-KongZilla?)

    And, wow, cool on the old VHS story.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

  23. #23
    quarantined Skitch's Avatar
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    I haven't seen any Kongs v Godzillas. I need to.
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  24. #24
    The Pan
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    I've not seen King Kong vs Godzilla OR King Kong Escapes, despite owning both on bluray.

    For shame.

  25. #25
    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting bac0n (view post)
    Yeah, I'm looking forward to the new Kong vs. Godzilla too - tho I am certain they will need to team up at some point to battle a greater threat - (Mechani-KongZilla?)

    And, wow, cool on the old VHS story.
    I think that will be the case. Also, thanks. I last watched it on VHS in 2016 and it still worked.
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