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ROBERT ARMSTRONG RETURNS IN 'SON OF KONG' WITH HELEN MACK

Artwork for SON OF KONG Year of Release and Capture: 1933
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Skull Island… But why return to a place full of carnivorous monstrosities? And you thought forced sequels were a new concept... yet SON is actually not that bad, and Carl Denham, again played by Merien Cooper doppelganger Robert Armstrong, had a lousy year… His giant attraction ruined most of New York City...

From tossing a woman off a building to stepping on residents to damaging a subway car, the once great filmmaker is facing lawsuits that will put him in debt for centuries. Then he gets a shamelessly convenient second chance in the form of the original charter Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher along with Victor the Chinese Cook) to hitch a ride and become partners in the freight business… Denham sets out on the same boat for a far off location to seek new customers, and just happens to catch a low-rent stage show including an insanely adorable Helen Mack as Hilda, who's just as girl-next-girl cute as Fay Wray was bombshell-gorgeous.

Background birds that would be used in Citizen Kane
SON OF KONG takes a while to roll, but even the fluff is interesting. Like all sequels, a new pivotal character is introduced, shoehorned from the original: the guy who had given Denhman the map of Skull Island in the first place, disgraced Captain Helstrum is a lush and a liar, and here we have a bonafide human antagonist...

He winds up burning down Hilda’s tent show, killing her boozing father. And so, now homeless, jobless, and fatherless, she becomes a stowaway on Denham and Englehorn’s charter, which is quickly taken over by a gaggle of disgruntled sailors. At this point, the main characters are put on a lifeboat headed right for, you got it... Skull Island! Here’s where, forty minutes in, the movie really starts, consisting of our new title hero, SON OF KONG, a white-haired, jovial yet tough and resilient ape that, after Denham helps him out of quicksand, becomes bodyguard to the frightened humans...

"Why is the gorilla white? Is it symbolic of his goodness?" Rates: ***1/2
Who at this point are like the audience: merely witnesses to beastly bouts between Kong and a giant bear, and a few angry dinosaurs, including a ramming-speed triceratops...

These battles are as great as things get, making SON OF KONG special effects pioneer Willis O’Brien’s show…

Too bad the pulpy, intentionally lightweight adventure has such a horrible (and unfair) cop-out climax involving a ravaging, convenient storm causing a flood and a tragic finale that should have turned out much differently… Enough room on the life boat for a big baby gorilla… Or perhaps a gigantic floaty... He deserved at least  that much! "It was water that killed the beast" just doesn't have that same classic ring to it.
Robert Armstrong and the supercute Helen Mack in SON OF KONG
Robert Armstrong and Helen Mack in SON OF KONG
Helen Mack as Hilda singing "The Runaway Blues" in SON OF KONG
"He's sure a scrapper, like his dead" SON OF KONG verses a giant bear
Helen Mack as Hildy in SON OF KONG
Son of Kong verses a wobbly headed dinosaur in SONG OF KONG
Son of Kong verses a wobbly headed dinosaur in SONG OF KONG
Helen Mack, Robert Armstrong and SON OF KONG
Frank Reicher, Helen Mack and Robert Armstrong
Poster for SON OF KONG with Helen Mack and Robert Armstrong
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