d. Ernest B. Schoedsack (1933)
'I guess next time you leave big monkey alone, huh?'
Released a mere nine months after King Kong, and made at a third of the cost, Son of Kong is a charming, modest little film that packs murder, mutiny, dinosaurs, seismic disturbances and a big white hero ape into seventy minutes without ever removing its tongue from its cheek.
Set a month after Kong's New York rampage, it focuses on hapless promoter / chancer Carl Denham, now broke and facing a grand jury trial and a dozen law suits. Eager to escape his legal woes, and feeling bad about dead Kong and his dead victims, he jumps on board his boat and hits the open seas.
After forty five minutes of mildly diverting intrigue and romance, the highlight of which is a group of monkeys in fezzes playing avant-garde mood music, he finds himself back on Skull Island in search of treasure, arriving just in time to save Kong's son from drowning in quicksand. Poor Little Kong 'ain't a patch on his old man', being gentle, dopey, boss eyed, albino and a mere twelve feet tall, but he is lovable and approachable and doesn't seem to want to eat anyone.
Comically anthropomorphic, Little Kong becomes Denham's protector, beating up the various oversized mammals and reptiles that prowl the island, including a Nothosaurus, a Styracosaurus and a giant, angry bear that he puts into a headlock and punches repeatedly in the face.
All too soon, a violent earthquake sinks the island beneath the sea, and plucky Little Kong sacrifices himself to the turbulent waters in order to hold his best friend Denham above the waves until he can be rescued. It's all rather sweet, and although it lacks the impact, iconography and innovation of its illustrious predecessor it is fun, genuinely funny and easy to like.