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    Edgar Wallace typescript with handwritten revisions for King Kong. (RKO, 1933) This is the January 1932 carbon-copy typescript of the full scenario retained by Wallace, comprising 313 "shots", with his autograph alterations and annotations on pages 19, 20, 44,54,79,83,85,87,89,90,92,93,94 and 109. The script was written one month before his death and is presented here with its original title of "Kong", 108 pages (irregularly paginated 1-110), 8.5 x 11 in., spindle holes, well-thumbed and slightly frayed, corner of page 54 torn off. There are three pages with full-sentence corrections. Among them: "Kong is a huge ape about 30 feet high. [Signed]: EW" "He puts her down at his feet." The Original Manuscript of the most famous monster movie ever made. "Kong", as it was originally titled, was the last completed work of that most prolific of thriller-writers, Edgar Wallace, and was written for RKO Radio Pictures during his brief sojourn in Hollywood before his death. The exact authorship of the script has often been a matter of some confusion (it has sometimes been said, for instance, that Wallace left his scenario unfinished, a suggestion which the present script manifestly disproves). According to the official film credits the script was an adaptation by James Creelman and Ruth Rose from a story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper. The facts may be ascertained with the help of Wallace's own account as given in his last letters, which were posthumously published by his wife as My Hollywood Diary. The idea for a film about a giant gorilla on the rampage was conceived by the writer and director Merian Cooper while on location in Africa in, or just before 1929. When Wallace arrived in Hollywood in December 1931, Cooper's ideas had advanced to the possible special effects processes. On December 25, 1931 Wallace noted that he and Cooper "talked over the big animal play we are going to write, or rather, I am writing and he is directing...and I am going to turn him out a scenario". By December 30, the scenario was "roughly sketched" and some footage had already been filmed of prehistoric monsters and gorillas ("they were not particularly good"). Wallace then wrote their "collaboration" on their "beast play": "I will give him a 'bar line', a bar line being a credit as collaborator, because he has really suggested the story, though I of course shall write it". By January 1, 1932 Wallace had completed 28 pages of the scenario ("...which is a good start. I can't do very much at a time because each sequence has to be approved by 'Coop'...") By January 4th, he had "nearly finished the beast scenario" but for one or two unimportant points to be discussed with Cooper, and on January 5th he announced: "I have finished the scenario of "Kong". That is the name", adding that Cooper was "very pleased" with it. On the next day, worried over whether he had made a sufficient impression on the studio executive to have his contract renewed (which was on January 31), he declared that this "big film" would make a big difference to him, "...for although I am not responsible for the success of the picture, and really can't be, since the ideas were mainly Cooper's, I shall get all the credit for authorship and invention which rightly belongs to him". Over the next three weeks the script was being read by the executives, and on February 7, before the scenario had been officially approved, Wallace died suddenly from pneumonia. Wallace's original scenario went through the hands of at least two other studio writers and was re-written and re-written again - as is witnessed by two different revised scripts, dated August 24, 1932 and February 23, 1933, respectively, copies of which are preserved at the British Film Institute. The shooting of the film, under the combined direction of Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, began in May 1932 and it was finished, edited and released by April 1933. Only a detailed comparison of the various scripts and the final film version could properly chart the evolution of the film from the drawing board to the screen. However, it seems clear that Wallace's original scenario - from the opening shot of an ordinary monkey picking petals from a rose, to the closing sequence of Kong's spectacular death - contains all the essential elements of the final version. The chief difference of the revised scripts lies more in the extent to which they expand the original conception: the celebrated final scene, for instance, with Kong on the recently built Empire State Building and catching an airplane before being shot down, is briefly outlined in the present script (and just as it was filmed) on two widely spaced pages, whereas the later scripts allocated four and nine pages respectively simply to describe the same scene in more detail and to insert comments by bystanders. The success of the film, on account of its special effects and the sympathy aroused by its hero (described in the present script in an autograph note by Wallace as "a huge ape about 30 feet high", though he grew somewhat in the final version), is legendary and has become part of film lore. As the archetype of its genre, Kong has spawned various successors (Son of Kong, etc.), as well as imitators, but no one would challenge the pre-eminence of the original. Housed in a full morocco custom slipcase. Provenance: From the Estate of Penelope Wallace, and first sold in 1982 at Sotheby's.

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    June, 2017
    26th Monday
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