Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving with the Gorillas

 I am reposting this blog from three years ago. I hope you enjoy it! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

As I get ready to spend Thanksgiving with my husband David, mother Marge, and some close family friends, I am reminded of the Thanksgiving Days of my youth. Oddly enough, I spent them with my family and gorillas. Yes, you read correctly. Dinner consisted of the traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings. However, my brothers and I loved watching the trio of gorilla movies on WOR Channel 9 from NYC.

Starting in the early afternoon, the station began its gorilla mini-marathon. Whose idea it was to program these movies? I don't know, but it did become a Thanksgiving tradition with those of my generation. Yes, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was and is a great NY tradition. However, in the 1970's & 1980's, young adults, teenagers, kids, and classic movie fans looked forward to the King Kong, Son of Kong,  & Mighty Joe Young triple bill on Channel 9.

To this day, it surprises people that this trio of classic movie films was chosen even over football in many homes. Is really surprising though? There was great storytelling in each of these stories. Plus, forget CGI -- the special effects in these movies gave Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe a human quality. We cried when Kong and Son of Kong died. We cheered when Mighty Joe saved the children at the orphanage fire while risking his own life. I think we connected with these "characters" because they had expressive  facial gestures that the modern special effect techniques do not emphasize. Now, it's all about making it "pop." Then, it was about the art of the film too. To me, the enduring success of these three movies lies in the magic of Old Hollywood. During the Golden Era, there was desire to draw the audience into the story and completely invest in the characters. It did not matter whether those characters were human or not, every effort was made to endow a sympathic quality in the protagonist. That is why these three movies work -- we understand what makes each lead character (Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe) take the actions he does.

It is very simple for me to understand why I connected with King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young as great Thanksgiving movies. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on everything we appreciate in our own lives. It is also a time to consider those who have sacrificed for us. In those films, there is sacrifice by the "non-human" stars. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving but with movies that show there is sadness but also unselfishness in this world.

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