From KING KONG (1933) and featuring Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham:
“Oh no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”
Jessica Lange is a beautiful woman. Now mind you that I don’t mean that she was a beauty at the age of 27 when she was unceremoniously undressed by that over-sized and amorous ape King Kong (1976); nor do I mean that she is a beauty now at the age of 64 and going strong in her third season of the hit FX series American Horror Story. No, what I mean is that Jessica Lange is a beautiful woman, period.
Born April 20, 1949 in Cloquet, Minnesota, Miss Lange decided to forgo a scholarship to study art at the University of Minnesota to travel to Paris to study drama. She was given her big break when she was cast as Dwan by producer Dino De Laurentiis in the aforementioned remake of the 1933 classic King Kong. Not stopping at one film, Jessica went on to star in films as diverse as All That Jazz (1979), Tootsie, for which she took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (1982), Frances (1982), Music Box (1989), Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear (1991), Blue Sky, for which she won the Best Actress Academy Award (1994) and Tim Burton‘s Big Fish (2003). Besides appearing in American Horror Story, she has appeared on the small screen in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1984), A Streetcar Named Desire (1995), Sybil (2007) and Grey Gardens (2009).
It is with great pleasure that I present to you the Written in Blood Scream Queen of the Month for December 2013: Miss Jessica Lange.
Had a long term relationship with actor Sam Shepard (1982-2009).
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#64).
Beat Meryl Streep for the role of Patsy Cline in Sweet Dreams (1985), according to Streep. Streep said it was one of the few if not the only role she ever went after. Then later said that she couldn’t however, imagine the movie without her (Lange).
Her performance as Frances Farmer in Frances (1982) is ranked #85 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
“It took Sydney Pollack a long time to get me to do Tootsie (1982). I asked myself if I wanted to play some frothy, ditzy character after I had just done Frances (1982). Obviously, I’m thrilled that I did.”
“All through life, I’ve harbored anger rather than expressed it at the moment. Once I started on Frances (1982), I discovered it was literally a bottomless well. It devastated me to maintain that for eighteen weeks, to be immersed in this state of rage for twelve to eighteen hours a day. It spilled all over, into other areas of my life. I was really hell to be around.”
- American Horror Story: Stevie Nicks Returning to the Coven; Jessica Lange Talks Leaving After Season 4 (dreadcentral.com)
- TVLine’s Performer of the Week: Jessica Lange (horrorboom.com)
- Jessica Lange Is Leaving American Horror Story, We Weep Tears Of Blood (refinery29.com)
- Jessica Lange To Bid Farewell To American Horror Story After Season 4 (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
- Jessica Lange to Depart AMERICAN HORROR STORY after Next Season, Plus New Details on Season 4 (collider.com)
- Newswire: It looks like Jessica Lange is really leaving American Horror Story (avclub.com)
- ‘American Horror Story’: Jessica Lange on why next season will be her last — EXCLUSIVE (mekia78.wordpress.com)
- Ahs Covens Angela Bassett, Jessica Lange & Kathy Bates Cover ‘Ew’ (getmybuzzup.com)
- ‘American Horror Story’ Officially Renewed for Season 4 With Jessica Lange (screenrant.com)
- ‘American Horror Story’ to Lose Jessica Lange After Season 4 (screenrant.com)
KING KONG-New Zealand/United States/Germany-2005
Despite the fact that it is incredibly long and excruciatingly overacted in certain scenes (thanks to Jack Black), Peter Jackson’s King Kong is every bit the love letter to the 1933 original that he intended it to be. Aided by amazing performances from Naomi Watts and Andy Serkis, Jackson has made a film that is every bit as ambitious as his monumental Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is a far cry from his earlier efforts such as the darkly funny and immensely gory Dead Alive, the brilliantly written Heavenly Creatures and the painfully monotonous The Frighteners; the latter being a film I personally feel that Jackson should keep off of his resume.
As with the original the main core of the story is the same; boy meets girl and does everything he can to make her happy and to protect her, eventually giving his life for her. Of course now would be a good time to mention that the ‘boy’ of the story is a fifty-foot tall gorilla; but I get a feeling you already knew that.
I tell you what; let’s talk about Kong. More to the point let’s talk about the man who brings him to life, Andy Serkis. There has been controversy as to whether what Serkis does in roles like that of Kong or Gollum could be considered acting. Let me put it to you this way; if not for Serkis and the incredible range of emotions he displays in these roles, Gollum and Kong would merely be an exercise in CGI excellence. With him, they are every bit as real as the human actors they coexist alongside.
I will say, however, that Serkis has a lot of help from Naomi Watts in her role as Ann Darrow. I mentioned in my review of The Ring that Watts does amazing things with her eyes to express emotions and that is never more evident than in King Kong. Watts and Serkis play off of each other brilliantly.
Now comes the biggest question of all and that’s how’s the action? After all, this is a movie about a big damn ape protecting a beautiful young lady from the perils of the jungle, so it had better have action aplenty. Well, fear not, for I will go on record and state that the battle between Kong and the V-Rex is one of the most amazing fight scenes ever filmed. It is rivaled only in scale by the melee between the Bride and the Crazy 88’s in Kill Bill, and the Spider-man and Doctor Octopus train battle in Spider-man 2. It is that damn good.
Moving on to the weaker points of the film of which there is only one. I can forgive the excessive length of King Kong. What I cannot forgive is the mugging and overacting from Jack Black. Black would have done good to have watched Robin William’s performance in One Hour Photo to see how an otherwise hyperactive actor can deliver a subdued and amazing performance. I wonder if Peter Jackson knew what he was getting into when he cast Black.
So, is King Kong a keeper? Well, all I can say is that if I were a beautiful blonde woman in some scary jungle, I’d sure want that big gorilla having my back. That is, as long as I don’t have to put out. I’d dodge that bullet by telling him I’m saving myself for marriage.
- Chat with ‘Apes,’ ‘Tintin’ star Andy Serkis Friday (herocomplex.latimes.com)
- James Franco: Andy Serkis Deserves Credit From Actors! (justjared.buzznet.com)
- James Franco calls for Andy Serkis Oscar recognition for mo-cap turn (guardian.co.uk)
- My Favorite Movies: “King Kong” (2005) (evsmoviezone.wordpress.com)