According to the original production notes for King Kong (Guillermin, 1976), producer Dino De Laurentiis set out to remake this classic monster movie in a manner that would be rival-less, “in size, scope, and excitement.” The notes continue,
“The enormous complexity of his undertaking became evident to De Laurentiis when last summer he began assembling craftsman, acquiring vast Hollywood sets, overseeing construction on the elaborate sets, and conducting a search for locations and a young, beautiful woman to play King Kong’s romantic interest, a role created more than 40 years ago by Fay Way.”
Indeed, the production team conducted an “exhaustive search” to find a brilliant ingénue who could capture the heart of a humongous king (not to mention hunky leading man, Jeff Bridges) and captivate audiences’ attention. That search “… ended for Jessica Lange on a two-hour notice when she agreed to fly to the West Coast to test for the coveted role of Dwan.” Apparently, she was very excited!
“Jetting to Hollywood a week before Christmas, 1975, from New York where she had established herself as a top-flight model with Wilhelmina, Jessica mused that her good luck was something she had anticipated all of young life: going to Hollywood to become an actress.”
Unfortunately for the film’s leading lady, “Dwan,” is arguably dealt quite a bad hand over the course of the plot. Although she’s clearly down for flirtatious fun, Dwan rarely encounters opportunities to express her romantic agency. Instead, she’s both figuratively and literally plucked from her surroundings and subjected to various promises of a new, elevated lifestyle in beautiful Malibu with Jeff Bridges, Skull Island with King Kong, and Hollywood with “Harry,” the self-styled movie producer with an appreciation for seminal pornographies, respectively.
Perhaps, if Dwan could’ve gotten to know her three suitors outside of the racially tinged, island-based conflict zone in which the film takes place, she would’ve been better prepared to make a thoughtful decision about who to ultimately choose for her life partner. To test this theory, we invite you to play a special edition of The Dating Game, where we imagine what Dwan would ask her contestants, if she had the chance to go on the show.
Jack Prescott, played by Jeff Bridges
Q. I like a strong man, who can easily pick me up. What’s your best pick-up line?
A. Jack Prescott. I’m from Princeton. Department of Primate Paleontology. You look like you need some rest.
Q. My parents named me “Dwan,” which is like “Dawn,” except that they switched the letters “A,” and “W,” to make it interesting. If you could give yourself a nickname, what would it be?
Q. I’ve done the whole tribal wedding-with-a-human-sacrifice-thing, but I’ve never had a traditional proposal. If you were to propose, how would you do it?
A. I would propose that fog banks could be caused by animal respiration.
Q. I’m a fan of big animals — I mean, a big fan of animals. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
A. Something small and gentle, something frail… like, perhaps, a rhinoceros.
Q. I’ve seen it all: from the lavish quarters of a luxury ocean liner, to the lonely, drifting seas of the South Pacific. Say that money is no object. What would you give your girlfriend as a gift?
A. I know the standard answer is “bananas.” People expect “bananas.” But, for me, it’s not one thing. It’s treating my girlfriend like a queen everyday. Until she dies.
Q. My life’s been saved once already. If you could be a superhero, who would you be and why?
A. One who could defeat helicopters. ‘Nuff said.
Harry, the “Movie Producer”
Q. I like to sing and keep my mouth open, in general. What song best describes your life?
A. “Le Freak,” by Chic. It talks about what I’s wants to do to yous [sic].
Q. Say that money is no object. What would you give your girlfriend as a gift?
A. Goin’ with bananas.
Q. You’ve won a lifetime award for something. What is it?
A. I came on this show all Night of the Living Dead-style. Post-mortem and whatnot. Ain’t there no award for that?
Q. Like I said before, my life has been saved once in the past. Do you know anyone else whose life has been saved by Deep Throat?
Bachelor #1: I’ve snapped a few monkeys.
Bachelor #2: I know a lot of people whose lives have been ended by a deep throat.
Bachelor #3: Unfortunately, honey, I can’t say that I know anybody at all who fits that there description.
And the winner is…
Jessica, as “Dwan”: All of the bachelors really spoke to my heart. However, one contestant said something that gripped me tightly. Bachelor #2 loomed large when he said that he treats his woman like a queen. I want a proud man, a real king — but someone who keeps it 100 by showing me respect and devotion. I want a man who will climb towers for me.
The lucky couple will be sent on a dream date, based on your suggestions. Would you rather send them to…*
- Club Med in fabulous Columbus Isle, Bahamas?
- Bounce America, the world’s biggest adult play place, with interspecies jungle gyms, in Shermer, Illinois?
- Or, on a train tour through Napa Valley’s famous wine country? (Special accommodations available.)
* All trips have been pre-screened for helicopters.
Lucky readers, you get to help us decide! Weigh in below or tweet us your suggestions @EpixHD with #DateKingKong.
And for those of you who would prefer getting to know the real Ms. Lange, here are some additional fun facts about her, from King Kong‘s original publicity materials:
- Lange grew up and attended college in Minnesota, before moving to Paris, “to study mime.”
- Although she soon returned to New York, where she joined a modern dance group, “her lyrical beauty made her a natural for modeling… which she saw as one promising route to becoming an actress.”
- She’s fluent in French.
- She prefers NYC to Paris for its pace and “madness.”
- As a self-styled romantic, “Jessica’s favorite author is Stendhal, her composer Schubert, and her Hollywood actress, a tie between Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis.”