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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

THE REEL REALS: Fay Wray



Faye Wray

Fay Wray will forever be known as "The Queen of Screams." Before Jamie Lee Curtis became "the Scream Queen" of slasher movies, Fay was wailing hysterically against the most grandiose of monsters-- though Kong was really just an oversized ape. Some classify King Kong as a horror film; others place it in the action/adventure category. In truth it is a blending of both. It is One Million B.C. meets The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Fay, in her role as the down on her luck beauty whose sacred femininity is stalked by the dark, beastly harbinger of man's lust, gave the most important performance in the classic film. This is not just because her main co-star was actually an innovative creation of puppetry, but because the audience's response to the anti-hero depended solely upon her own reaction. When you break it all down, Kong wasn't really that scary, was he? He was just a lonely, juiced up primate with primal needs. Fay was quite safe, from bestial penetration at least (which appeared to be physically impossible), yet the sexual tension was still there. Kong wanted a girlfriend, and with Fay's scant clothing a gorgeous physique, I mean... Well, at the end of the day, we're all part of the same family, aren't we? In any case, were it not for the sheer panic in her eyes, the audience may not have had any aversion to Kong at all. The guy was adorable. Under Fay's gaze, however, he was the unholiest and most fearful creature in Jesus's jungle.

While Fay in irrevocably and eternally tied to Kong, she performed in over a hundred projects over her career, a great many of which were B-pictures with a suspenseful edge. While she got her start in Westerns and performed in her share of dramas, it was films like Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game, The Vampire Bat, and Mystery of the Wax Museum that were to be her most memorable. With a name like 'Fay Wray,' which was NOT an invented stage moniker, this chronic damsel in distress seemed destined for exactly the life she fell into. With a name that sounded like the hot howl of a hell bent banshee, Ms. Wray obtained glory simply by giving herself a sore throat. Yet, because of the vulnerability, emotional abandon, and maturity with which she approached her very unusual roles, she too has been able to maintain her very unusual and notorious place in the Hollywood lexicon of stars. Her performance as Ann Darrow- the Helen in the contemporary, Sci-fi Troy story- continues to reiterate the ever relatable saga of mankind's perpetual defeat by the most dangerous monster of all-- his heart. Whether fighting with guns, swords, wooden horses, or giant Gorillas, in this particular story-- and in most others--
"It
was beauty killed the beast."

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