Tempo, New York, 1976
The blurb on the back:
An American Folk Hero Who Will Live Forever!
Hollywood, as any fule kno, has no respect for anything at all and will happily engage in auto-cannibalism if there's a couple of bucks to be made. Even so, the 1976 re-make of King Kong, with Jessica Lange blasphemously appearing in Fay Wray's screaming role, plumbed new depths of depravity. If the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague had been in existence at the time, director John Guillermin would have been up in front of it like a shot. However, amongst the cash-ins that emerged in '76 to accompany the re-make was the re-issue of this book and for that, I suppose, we should be grateful.
The provenance of the story and the novelization is confused. We start with the stated facts:
Edgar Wallace and Merian C Cooper
Delos W Lovelace
It is copyright 1932 by Grosset & Dunlap (a Filmways Company), with the copyright renewed and assigned to Merian C Cooper.
Merian C Cooper
Cooper was one of the producers of the original film, and was the originator of the story. Edgar Wallace, the king of pulp fiction, was called in to develop the script, but died in early-1932 and according to Cooper, 'didn't write any of Kong, not one bloody word [but] I'd promised him credit and so I gave it to him.' † The screenplay was eventually written by James A Creelman (who had earlier scripted Cooper's other classic The Most Dangerous Game) and Ruth Rose. None of which gets us any nearer Delos W Lovelace, or gives us any indication of when he entered the picture. And, to be honest, I don't know the answer to that.
All I know is that Mr Lovelace was a former hack turned short-story writer, whose work at the time was overshadowed by that of his wife, the children's author, Maud Hart Lovelace. What is unclear to me is whether this text was re-vamped in any way for the 1970s edition. If not, then it deserves some considerable credit for its depiction of the inhabitants of Skull Island: you might reasonably have expected a much more offensive tone.
And anyway the book's not bad at all. No substitute for the glory of the film itself, of course, but at least fairly faithful to it. Check out the lascivious tone, dude:
There are also, brags the cover, '16 pages of splendid new art!' If 'splendid' is perhaps overstating the issue, one should at least be grateful that they're drawings and not pictures of Ms Lange. Here's one:
† Orville Goldner & George E Turner, The Making of King Kong (Ballantine Books, New York, 1975) p.59. The picture of Merian C Cooper comes from the same, highly recommended study.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 2/5
The Creation of King Kong