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Re: Popularity of dinosaurs in the 1920s/30s? (King Kong question)



REPLY: I am unsure as to the meaning of "popular". In
my in-progress book, _Alfred Russel Wallace's KING
KONG_, I outline the germination of the idea Willis
O'Brien had started with ca. 1919, of, somehow,
bringing dinosaurs to "life" via stop-motion puppetry.
It was his teaming up with Marcel Delgado, that,
however inaccurate, produced dinosaurs that breathed
on the screen. Together with Harry Hoyt (who, in turn,
was influenced by Martin and Osa Johnson), by
1929/1930 the concept of CREATION as a scinematic
extravaganza was born. OBie, during this time (and I
am basing this simplified exegesis upon correspondence
by OBie's wife), was wanting to, somehow, introduce a
giant primate into the mix. CREATION was gutted by RKO
(Harry Hoyt was to see his ideas used without
attribution), and Edgar Wallace was brought into the
picture. Wallace, of course, knew nothing of
dinosaurs, but was a quick type/writer (he also
believed that E.D. Morel, Roger Casement, and Conan
Doyle were lying re: Belgium genocide in the Congo),
and his two, slightly different scripts (which I
have), KONG and KONG/THE BEAST, written over a period
of 6-7 weeks, created the archetypal icon of KING
KONG. However, during this period (1925-1933), there
is nothing in American "popular" publications
reflecting any public attention toward dinosaurs.
Edgar Rice Burroughs used quasi-dinosaurs in some of
his racialist conjurations, but, in the main, there
was not the prodigious current of intellectual
curiosity about them that came about after, say, 1980.
Willis O'Brien, and his creative team, were artists in
the highest sense of the word, and it was OBie's goal,
in part, to re-create the haunting images of Dore's
murky forests and amalgamate these with his own
passionate love of dinosaurs-as-animals. It was not
until decades later (with Phil Tippett's PREHISTORIC
BEAST, and Stephen Czerkas's PLANET OF DINOSAURS)that
OBie's inaccuracies were corrected, indeed, but (and I
don't know how else to state it) his "magical fingers"
were able to imbue into his puppets "life". His
inaccurate boxer-stance theropods (one reason being a
correctly postured theropod, which he tried to create
for both 1925 and 1933 films, with a horizontal back
and s-shaped neck, kept falling over on the animation
table) still engender a sense-of-wonder. At any rate,
Richard: OBie introduced dinosaurs longer before he
felt the need for a giant primate (and this years
before a certain RKO director claimed to have created
the film in toto).
*******************************************************
--- Richard W Travsky <rtravsky@uwyo.edu> wrote:
> Just out of curiousity, is there anything that
> speaks to how popular
> dinosaurs were in the 1920s and 30s? I'm thinking of
> King Kong's use
> of dinosaurs (as well as Lost World). Was their use
> in Kong a twofer, in
> that they needed some more big dangerous critters in
> the story line and
> dinosaurs were not only big and dangerous but
> popular too?
> 
> I've read some bits on the Kong production and this
> question occurred to
> me.
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 


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