King Kong Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot Director: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack The film: King Kong hasn't had a decent home video release since 1984, when Criterion put out a LaserDisc (featuring the first audio commentary track) for $580. Several poor DVD versions have come onto the market, but this timely double-disc package from Warner Bros puts things right in spectacular style. Whether this new edition would have been released without the upcoming Peter Jackson remake is debatable, but Warner claims to have been working on it for a couple of years. There are three release formats: a double-disc special edition (reviewed here); a box set, including the double-disc set and two later films by the same filmmakers - Son of Kong (1933), and Mighty Joe Young (1949) - and a tin box featuring the double disc along with postcards and a programme reprint. For a film made more than 70 years ago, this digitally restored King Kong looks marvellous, with minimal wear and tear and a lightening up of scenes that were previously darkened to hide excessive gore. Some of the acting in the early scenes is a little wooden - or hammy, in the case of lead actor Robert Armstrong - but once on Kong's island Willis O'Brien's stop-motion animation takes over and it's plain sailing all the way back to New York. The scene atop the Empire State Building, with Kong clutching a screaming Fay Wray, remains one of the most familiar in film history. (Two days after Wray died last year, aged 97, the lights of the Empire State Building were dimmed in her honour for 15 minutes.) Although rough at the edges by today's standards of technical perfection, King Kong still holds up nicely in its own right, the special effects having a strangely organic appeal, its score is as effective as ever, and Kong's still able to elicit sympathy as he meets his demise. The extras: The only disappointment here is the throwaway commentary. Pioneer stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts, One Million Years BC) is joined by visual effects artist Ken Ralston (Star Wars) who adds little in the way of insight or informed opinion. The four hours of extras on disc two are better. First is a one-hour documentary on director Merian C. Cooper, then a seven-part documentary on the production history and the staggering amount of work that went into making the film. Highlights include a 35-minute piece on Jackson's attempts to recreate a lost spider pit sequence using the same techniques as the original (a side project not related to his new film). O'Brien was working on another animated project that was cancelled just before King Kong went into production, and the few remaining scenes from this are shown with commentary by Harryhausen.