Guy Lochhead, 20/07/10
A controversial 1931 exploitation film that inspired RKO to invest in ‘King Kong’. The film claims to be a documentary of Sir Hubert Winstead of London encountering a tribe of gorilla-worshipping women in the Congo jungle. The film depicted, amongst other things, implied inter-species sex and half-ape babies. An investigation into the film carried out by the Federal Trade Commission discovered that much of the film had been shot at the Los Angeles Zoo, the explorers were fictitious, the ‘tortadillo’ was a tortoise with scales, wings and a tail attached and the ‘pygmies’ were children. The filmmakers were also sued for using unauthorized footage from an earlier documentary. I would include this film as an example of public imagination, but I think it was probably largely the promise of naked tribeswomen that gathered such an audience – plus it’s just a fancy lie and a little bit racist.