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I'm King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (2005)

This documentary explores the incredible life of Merian C. Cooper, from his time as a soldier and pilot in three different wars, to his exploits in Hollywood, as a director, producer and cinematic innovator.
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Narrator (voice)
Merian C. Cooper ...
Himself (archive footage) (archive sound)
David Strohmaier ...
Himself - Interviewee
James D'Arc ...
Himself - Interviewee
Himself (archive footage)
Paul M. Jensen ...
Himself - Interviewee
Ted Curtis Jr. ...
Himself - Interviewee
Herbert Hoover ...
Himself (archive footage)
Herself - Interviewee
Carl Denham (archive footage)
Jack Driscoll (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage) (archive sound)
Himself (archive footage)
Marguerite Harrison ...
Herself (archive footage)
Himself - Interviewee


A chronological celebration of the life and contributions to movies of Merian C. Cooper (1893-1973), adventurer turned filmmaker. Tossed from the Naval Academy and wanting to make his father proud, he becomes a bomber pilot in World War I, assists the Polish resistance, escapes from a Soviet prison, and becomes a documentary filmmaker. He brings his camera close to stampeding elephants and lunging tigers. With "King Kong," he used stop-motion animation. Other innovations include his use of aviation in movie making and his embrace of Technicolor and Cinemascope. Archival interviews of Cooper and his partner, Monty Schoedsack, add to the soundtrack. Talking heads also comment. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

3 September 2005 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This documentary was released on DVD in the King Kong (1933) Two-Disc Special Edition the same day it was aired on Turner Classic Movies, Nov. 22 2005. See more »


Features Doctor X (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

A Real-Life Indiana Jones
1 August 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Having recently watched a documentary on the movie, "Mighty Joe Young," where someone mentioned that Merian C. Cooper led an unbelievably-interesting life, I was anxious to see documentary about the man who brought "King Kong" to life on-screen.

Well, the first few sentences in this feature seem to confirm that. "He was the genuine Indiana Jones," said one man. "We will never see his like again."

"His whole life was adventure," says another. "He was unbelievable.....if it weren't all true. He was a legend unto himself."

This 57-minute look at Cooper and not only his adventures but his movies and innovations in motion pictures, like the incredible "This Is Cinerama" were all fascinating to watch.

Cooper, like others who wound up "overachievers," if you will, had that mindset to succeed early on in life for two big reasons: 1 - he was kind of short and stocky and wanted to prove he could do a lot things physically others couldn't do, and 2 - more important, he wanted desperately to impress his father and gain approval through deeds. Often, one of these is a big motivator, and Cooper had both, and he certainly accomplished both goals.

There is no sense detailing all his adventures and accomplishments. Suffice to say they are many, and he was ahead of his time on a lot of his ideas and deeds. He also was unbelievably courageous. The story of how he survived after being shot in the neck and his WWI plane on fire, or being held in a Russian prison camp in the middle of winter with dead bodies piling up each day, are pretty wild.

In addition to tales of the real-life adventures, there are film clips from many of the Cooper- Ernest B. Schoedsack films and, since this is part of the "King Kong" special-edition DVD, the emphasis is on some technical aspects of making that film.

Unlike the others here, I enjoyed the last 60 percent of this which dealt with the movies and didn't mind they switched to that topic. They still mentioned more of Cooper's adventures, like his WWII heroics so, overall, you had half and half - half of Cooper's wild adventures and half his movie-making genius.

The only downside of this documentary is that Cooper and Schoedsack are heard on tape describing some of their adventures and they use the Lord's name in vain about every third sentence. That's ridiculous to hear on a documentary, of all things, but it only lasts for about a five-minute period.

Overall, a fascinating look at a real "original," and an amazing person.

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