king kong

Edgar Wallace died after completing a rough draft of King Kong, and James Ashmore Creelman’s script was slow and dialogue-heavy. So Merian C. Cooper gave the job to Ruth Rose, the wife of his co-producer. Rose had never composed a script before, but she knew how to write tightly — the opening line of dialogue, “Hey! Is this the moving picture ship?”, replaces several pages of exposition with seven words. After Kong is subdued on Skull Island, she accomplishes his transfer to New York with a simple speech by filmmaker Carl Denham:

Send to the ship for anchor chains and tools. Build a raft and float him to the ship. We’ll give him more than chains. He’s always been king of his world, but we’ll teach him fear. Why, the whole world will pay to see this! We’re millionaires, boys — I’ll share it with all of you! In a few months it’ll be up in lights: ‘Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World!’

Ernest B. Schoedsack said his wife’s script was easy to shoot because “the characters are believable — I didn’t have to ask them to do anything impossible or ridiculous.” And Cooper added, “Ruth used just the kind of romantic dialogue I wanted. It was perfect.”