How well do you remember 1976's King Kong?

Torrance Grey

Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

This campy remake, helmed by Dino De Laurentiis and surprisingly loaded with star power, transplanted the "Kong" story to the 1970s oil crisis! Test your recall of this monster movie with our quiz!

1976's "King Kong" was a remake. When did the original movie come out?

The third "King Kong" was released in 2005. It was a labor of love by Peter Jackson, who'd loved the original growing up.

What is the name of the oil company making a South Pacific expedition?

Though the name "Petrox" was plausible as an oil company, it was also an in-joke. "Pet rocks" were all the rage in the 1970s -- they were rocks that people bought as "pets," because of their totally low maintenance.

In what country does the action begin?

A title in the opening scene announces the setting as Surabaya, Indonesia. The Petrox Explorer is about to set sail on an expedition to find more oil on an uninhabited (they think) island.

Who played Fred Wilson, the executive in charge?

Grodin eats a good bit of tropical scenery in this role. He's the classic Clueless Executive, willing to do anything for a buck.

Which actor made his/her film debut in "King Kong"?

Lange was modeling when Dino De Laurentiis discovered her -- not always the mark of a true thespian. But Lange went on to win Oscars, Emmys and a Tony Award. Impressive!

What is the name of Lange's character?

Dawn, an aspiring actress, has rearranged the letters of her name to make it more memorable. (Is anybody else thinking about Sarah Jessica Parker's character, SanDeE*, in "L.A. Story"?)

What is Jack Prescott's line of work?

Jack, played by Jeff Bridges, is the complete package: a brainy, ethical scientist who turns into an action hero as needed. And he has the greatest hair in 1970s film.

Why does an oil expedition have a primate paleontologist on board?

Prescott bribes the guard at the shipyard, then climbs aboard via a mooring rope, hand-over-hand. We told you he was an action hero!

What toast does Fred make as the expedition gets underway?

Subtle! It's hard to see with all the foreshadowing in here.

How does Jack reveal his presence on the Explorer?

Fred is explaining to the crew how the island was discovered and why he believes it's oil-rich. Jack speaks up from the back of the room, debunking his claims.

What hides the island from human view?

The island is shrouded permanently by a cloudbank -- hey, what could go wrong under those conditions? (Bonus points if you knew it's "Brigadoon" that only appears every 100 years.)

Fred thinks abnormally high carbon dioxide indicates the presence of oil. What does Jack say it could be?

Jack believes it's animals breathing that might be causing the high levels of CO2. But wouldn't that require a whole pack of super-sized Kongs?

How does Dwan get on the ship?

Jack spots the life raft, and a rescue operation quickly gets underway. Dwan is inside -- unconscious, but not at all sunburned and with her makeup completely unsmudged.

Why did the yacht Dwan was on blow up?

The Petrox Explorer gets a distress call early on, which is presumably the yacht. But that's all the set-up we get for Dwan's appearance. Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. called Dwan's appearance in the raft "a fantasy."

What do they find on the island that suggests human inhabitants?

Fred calls the wall a ruin. Jack disagrees: It's been repaired, which must have happened after the most recent monsoon season. Fred simply doubles down on his theory: The wall's ancient, and the island is uninhabited, he insists.

What does the island tribe's chief want to trade for Dwan?

Six native women for one blonde American. Clearly, the chief is working on the same kind of value scale that Eli Roth would later use in the "Hostel" movies!

As part of her attempt to calm Kong, what does Dwan ask him?

There's some evidence that 1976's "King Kong" is a parody of Hollywood. Fred represents an egomaniacal director, wearing an ascot and mustache and yelling at people through a bullhorn. Dwan is a typical starlet, fantasizing about her big break and asking everyone their sign.

Speaking of signs, which is Dwan, and what does she guess Kong is?

Jack is also an Aries. Earlier, Dwan warned him not to go ashore, as the night was inauspicious for him.

Why does Jack believe that Kong isn't going to eat Dwan?

This is true; apes eat a lot of fruit and wild carrots. It's a common misconception that large animals must be carnivores. Some very small animals are predators, while some of the largest don't eat meat at all.

After giving Dwan a bath in the waterfall, how does Kong dry her off?

Kong seems to treat Dwan like a pet. This runs opposite to the fears of the Explorer crew, who think that Kong intends to rape her. (Ick, by the way.)

How does Kong kill several members of the rescue team?

Only Jack and Boan survive this, by grabbing vines and swinging to safe crevices in the sides of the ravine. Other crew members fall into a river far below.

What distracts Kong so that Dwan can escape?

The snake first menaces Dwan, and Kong acts to protect her at risk of his own life. Dwan sensibly -- if a bit ungratefully -- uses the opportunity to run to Jack.

How long, according to geologist Roy, will it take before the island's oil is ready?

Fred, of course, is furious. He was staking his career at Petrox on this find.

After finding out about the oil, what does Fred want to do?

Fred arranges an airdrop of supplies they'll need. The crew digs a giant pit to trap Kong in -- which, surprisingly, works.

At Kong's public "debut," the drape over his cage resembles what?

The script played up the "greedy oil company" to the hilt. Of course, the U.S. was in the midst of the "oil crisis," and public dislike of oil companies was running high, so it made sense.

What upsets Kong into breaking out of his cage?

Jack, in the distance, yells to the reporters not to do this; Kong will see it as a threat to Dwan. Of course, no one hears him or pays attention.

How does Fred die?

We would've enjoyed the gas-pump-drape idea as well. But if you make a movie with an 80-foot-tall ape, you've almost gotta have him step on the bad guy.

Where do Dwan and Jack take refuge after escaping from Kong?

The sewers would be the safest place, as they're underground. But Dwan might get her evening gown dirty... and we can't have that!

What does Kong climb up, once he recaptures Dwan?

Reportedly, employees at the Empire State Building were upset that the scene of the finale was changed from their great landmark to the newer, taller World Trade Center. But, looking back, the scene has a certain poignance -- by the time the 2005 remake of "King Kong" was made, the World Trade towers were no more.

Atop the World Trade tower, what does Dwan beg Kong to do?

Dwan realizes that she can act as a human shield, so that the soldiers won't fire on Kong. But Kong doesn't pick her up, and he succumbs to the soldiers' machine-gun fire.

Who says the famous line, "It was Beauty killed the Beast."

Screenwriter Semple didn't use the famous line from 1933, perhaps wanting to differentiate his work from that film. The 2005 film -- truer to the original -- restored it.

How many times is the island referred to as "Skull Island"?

There's one reference to "the island of the skull" in the historical lore. But the name "Skull Island" is never used.

Which actress was deemed too "ugly" to play Dwan?

Streep tells the story of Dino De Laurentiis disparaging her looks in Italian. He didn't realize she was fluent until she apologized, in the same language, for not being pretty enough to be in his film.

Which starlet also screen-tested for the role of Dwan?

Griffith, the Hollywood-raised daughter of Tippi Hedren, would likely have had little difficulty with the role of Dwan. She broke through later with films like "Working Girl" and "Something Wild."

Which actress filled Fay Wray's and Jessica Lange's shoes for the 2005 "King Kong"?

Watts played Ann Darrow, a broke actress who goes to Skull Island as part of a film shoot. Does she end up atop the Empire State Building? Do you even have to ask?

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