Film History is full of movies that never got made.
Kubrick’s ” Napoleon “
Jodorowsk’s ” Dune ”
Burton’s ” Superman Lives “
However None of those movies had a 50 foot Frankenstein fighting King Kong ! Which is why I’m not writing about them.
King Kong may have been conceived and directed by Merian C. Cooper, but the who brought the great ape to life was stop motion animation legend Willis O’Brien.
You’d think after the unprecedented success of King Kong in 1933, that O’Brien would have become a producer and film making force like his protege Ray Harryhausen would 30 years later.
Unfortunately not, …
Even winning a Oscar for this work in 1949’s Mighty Joe Young. He struggled to get projects off the ground.
Then in the late fifties he came up with an idea that he thought would put him back on top.
A movie where the King of Skull Island would Fight giant sized creation of Dr. Frankenstein!
O’Brein gave his concept to screenwriter George Worthing Yates ( who penned the classic 50’s monster movie THEM )
Yates screenplay begins with Karl Frankenstein, the grandson of the original doctor creating a giant version of the original monster.
Karl’s monster is much easier to control than his grandfathers, so naturally he creates a stage show around it.
Once the show is a huge success , Carl Denham gets the bright idea to head back to Skull Island and returns with Kong ( which worked out so well last time )
Frankenstein and Denham decide to have to two Monsters Fight in downtown San Francisco.
It goes about as well as you’d expect.
the film was meant to end with the two titans fighting on the Goldengate Bridge.
Unable to secure funding O’brien turned to Film Producer John Beck.
This turned out to be a huge mistake .
Beck took the Script and O’brien’s concept art and flew to Japan and met with executives from TOHO studios.
They loved the idea, and only had one note …
why not use Godzilla instead of Frankenstein.
The first time Willis O’brien heard of this, is when he saw the trailer for the film.
John Beck had long since stopped returning his phone calls.
Brokenhearted he sank into a depression and passed away only a couple years later.
In 1965 TOHO made Frankenstein Conquers the World .
Keeping the rights to George Worthing Yates original script was part of the deal the studio made with Beck.
In the end the guy who created not only King Kong but Fantasy Special Effects themselves got screwed.
And the guy who created nothing got paid.
However since his passing King Kong Has been re-made 3 times and who the hell knows who John Beck is?
I think Willis O’Brien’s legacy is the real victory !