Monday, July 24, 2017

Fay Wray Makes a Comeback

I have a personal sweet tooth for actress Fay Wray, best known for playing the lead in the 1933 RKO classic, King Kong. An exceptional talent for being able to emit various emotions with facial features, whether she be the pouty girl next door or the excited voodoo princess, Fay Wray had that rare ability to perform for the camera. Her screen legacy, however, has faded into the shadows because the majority of her movies have never been released to DVD and/or screened on television. The good folks at Capitolfest, an annual film festival held in Rome, New York, hopes to rectify that oversight.

On August 11, 12 and 13, 2017, Capitolfest will screen seven sessions of rare motion-pictures, including silents with live organ accompaniment, and film shorts. Six movies will be screened during the weekend, featuring Fay Wray in the cast.

The Coast Patrol (Barsky, 1925)

The Sea God (Paramount, 1930)

Four Feathers (Paramount, 1929)

Wild Horse Stampede (Universal, 1926)

Cheating Cheaters (Universal, 1934)

White Lies (Columbia, 1934)

Stowaway (Universal, 1932)

The first one and the last three are more difficult to find on the gray market among collectors, providing fan boys like myself a rare chance to view these vintage classics.

Fay Wray's legacy will also be highlighted over the weekend with a personal visit from her daughter, who will be discussing her mother's screen career. Few know that a small park near Lee's Creek on Main Street in Cardston, Alberta, her birthplace, was named Fay Wray Park in her honor. Fewer know that a small sign at the edge of the park has a silhouette of King Kong and his beauty.

Rick McKay has been working on a documentary about the life and screen career of Fay Wray. A trailer promoting the documentary can be found on YouTube.

And for trivial pursuit fans... Fay Wray was a huge fan of a cerebral radio comedy, The Halls of Ivy, starring Ronald Colman and Benita Hume. So much of a fan that Wray herself wrote two radio scripts that were used on the weekly radio comedy. If you hear an episode and the announcer closes the broadcast referencing Fay Wray as the script writer, yes, that is the same Fay Wray. She spent a lot of time writing and her second husband was script writer Robert Riskin. 

Reportedly King Kong saved the studio, RKO, from bankruptcy. The actress and the movie was referenced twice in the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). But her screen career should be explored deeper than just one movie.

If you want to visit a small town movie palace and watch classic movies for a day or two (or three), make plans to attend Capitolfest this year.

A link to the convention website can be found below.

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