Loitering with Intent

Source: Peter O’Toole, Loitering with Intent: The Child (New York: Hyperion, 1992), pp. 22-23

Text: The appalling, tormented end of King Kong upset me greatly. Gorgeous great monkey that he was. It was plain he meant no harm to the lady he held so carefully in his hand as he shimmied to the giddy top of the Empire State Building. You could see he was fond of the girl and only minding her. Why hadn’t they just let him be in his jungle? Wanting no more than to bump his chest, let rip the odd rumbling great yodel, chew a banana and fling a few trees about. Why capture him, rope and chain him, take him away to lock him up so that people could gawk at him? He was a superb beast. It was his capturers and keepers who were brutal. No wonder he broke loose and fled up the tallest thing to a tree he could find. But they chased him and found him and got him. They blinded him with search lights, they wounded him with bullets, they set aeroplanes on him, to fly at him and frighten him and shoot, shoot, shoot him. Wicked they all were and cruel. It pleased me hugely when King Kong snatched the aeroplane attacking him and snapped it into bits. Serve it right. None of it was fair and may King Kong be blessed forever for putting up a good scrap.

Mind you, there were hugs and sweets from Mummy to console. There was the sway and clatter of a tram ride to Roundelay Park to enjoy, ice cream to lick as my mother and I held sticky hands when we walked through the trees and down to my magical lake there.

Yes, I quite understood that King Kong was only a story, only a picture, it hadn’t really happened. They were only pretending, they hadn’t truly hurt that mighty monkey, it was just like a game. Mummy explained it all simply and clearly to me as we dipped our hands into the water of the lake to remove the vanilla and the strawberry and my mother had thrown the last of her ice-cream cornet to the ducks. And yet: I didn’t want to see that film ever again.

Comments: Peter O’Toole (1932-2013) became a notable screen actor. Roundelay Park is in Leeds. King Kong was made in 1933.

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