Thursday, May 2, 2013

King Kong Volkswagen 411 Commercial (1972)


 Cascade Pictures; 1972
Producers: Volkswagen of America
Director: Phil Kellison
Original concept by David Allen
Cast: Victoria Riskin (Ann Darrow); Rick Baker (King Kong)

With his ladylove in one paw, the world's favorite giant ape -- King Kong -- stands high atop the Empire State Building swatting off troublesome airplanes. Having captured one, Kong takes his new toy and the frightened beauty down to the streets below where he encounters the enormous Volkswagen 411 4-Door Sedan. The automobile proves quite roomy when he places the young woman on the passenger seat and his toy plane inside the trunk (located at the front of the car). After beating his chest in satisfaction, the great ape drives off with the Sedan, waving "farewell" to the good people of New York.

Although this popular commercial only aired on television for a brief period during the early 1970s, it has become a favorite relic of yesteryear among monster fans and stop-motion enthusiasts. David Allen (The Howling; Willow), who would soon go on to become one of Hollywood's most respected visual effects experts, created the animated model of King Kong during the start of his career while working for Cascade Pictures. At Cascade, Allen also animated many of television's favorite commercial characters, including Mrs. Butterworth, Little Hans the Nestle Chocolate Man, Mr. Peanut, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and Swiss Miss. As a fan of the b&w classic King Kong film of 1933, however, Allen was inspired to film a re-creation of the movie's climactic sequence in color. Originally titled "Fay's Friend," the commercial test footage was filmed around March of 1971 on 35mm and, oddly enough, did not include Fay Wray's  character in the scene. It wasn't long after that the Volkswagen of America company snatched up Allen's idea for marketing their Volkswagen 411 4-Door Sedan model. Cascade's effects department head, Phil Kellison (The Giant Behemoth; The Time Machine), took charge of directing the commercial, while Allen focused on the animation aspect of the project. Favorite special make-up effects artist Rick Baker (Octaman; The Exorcist) was brought in to provide Kong's arm and paw for the live-action shots where the giant ape places his struggling sweetheart on the passenger seat. The damsel in distress was actually played by Fay Wray's daughter, Victoria Riskin!

The following photographs feature behind-the-scenes images as well as pictures of David Allen, Dennis Muren, Bob Burns, Phil Kellison, Victoria Riskin, and Marcel Delgado. 



Below is a 2004 Volkswagen Polo ad by DDB London . 

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