Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lost and Found: King Kong Appears in Edo

After reading a lot about this subject online, I thought that it would be interesting to do a series of features on famous lost films, whether or not they were discovered & what their significance is.  Let's begin with one of the most rare and controversial ones out there...
The Story
This film was supposedly made and released in 1938.  The film is a knock-off of King Kong & is dated in many ways.  For example, it's title confusion come Tokyo.springs from the fact that the city of Edo would eventually be called Tokyo.  This does add an air of reliability to the story behind this film.  It's also notable for being made a good 16 years before Gojira was.
Was It Discovered?
Sadly, no.  The film has been lost for the last sixty-plus years.  Why?  Some people blame it on poor print maintenance, while others just figure that it was lost in the bombings of Japan during WWII.  Apparently, a good 90% of them have been lost due to that.  I suppose that is not too surprising, huh?  You can't make a bombing omelet without destroying a few hundred movie prints, after all.  All we have to go by is a magazine advertising the film (seen above)and and interview from a man who claims to have worked on it.
If this film is/was the real deal, it proves that Japan was really ahead of the curve.  While we were still playing with clay-mation and stop-motion effects, they were trying to create the art of Kaiju.  It also represents one of the earliest works of what many internet writers call 'Remake-sploitation.'  It's also a very early example of a foreign remake of an American film being made.  I would really like to see this, wouldn't you?
Next up, an Ed Wood film gets lost for years and gets rediscovered...twice.  How does that happen?  Stay tuned...


  1. Wow. Great find, Tim! A lot of Tsuburaya's early movies have apparently been lost in the war, too.

  2. Agreed, I had no idea that this one existed, only found out about the Hammer version this last year

  3. Hoax! There is no evidence a this alleged film ever existed at all! Though hoaxters claim that the makeup man gave an interview to a Japanese magazine and that un-named Japanese books in the 1970s mention it, but again ZERO proof!

  4. Well, you have about as much proof that this is a fake as I have that this is NOT a fake. I supposed we can agree to disagree here.

    Mind you, if a print ever surfaces, I'll be the one smiling...because I'll be able to see it. Oh yeah, the irony would be nice too.