Gallery of Bachrach Kong Art

Recently put up for auction is an amazing archive of original camera negatives, with modern contact prints of each, by Ernest A. Bachrach, dating from 1933 and the production of one of the world’s greatest monster films.

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Bachrach was the official still photographer for the classic King Kong (US-1933; dir. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack). The film King Kong was, of course, the first of the true giant monster movies; though earlier fantasy features included huge monsters, the unnatural beasts in them made what were merely cameo appearances, and the one true Kong predecessor, the 1925 epic The Lost World (which created a sort of template for giant critters let loose in a modern city),  featured “natural” dinosaurs rather than unnaturally oversized Wonders, with the city-rampaging confined to a few minutes at the end. King Kong‘s superlative stop-motion SFX, the sweep and romance of its imagery and the mythic qualities of its story elevated the film to greatness and inspired most of what was to come for the giant monster subgenre.

Bachrach’s archive of stills from the production represents an incredible historical and aesthetic property, one that would certainly be worth bidding for for fans of the film — assuming you could cough up the US$20,000 to $30,000 estimated value of the lot, that is.

[Lot] 765. King Kong massive archive of (50) original 8 x 10 camera negatives by Ernest A. Bachrach with modern contact prints of each. (RKO, 1933) Collection of 50 original negatives from 8 x 10 in. camera of Kong and Dinosaur models in action, scenery, sets, some with characters present, plus special effects shots, by Ernest Bachrach. Bachrach was the official still photographer for this film, and the range and quality of his work leaves us with an impressive record of this legendary film’s intricate production. Of special interest in this group are shots of multiple-Kong figures posed together for continuity. Included are contemporary high-quality double-weight 8 x 10 in. digital contact prints of each. Very Fine. (Live Auctioneers)

Here are some sample pictures from the archive (click on the images to enlarge them):

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This one is from Son of Kong:

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Apart from this archive of negatives, also up for auction, separately, are a number of “Gallery portraits” and “Exhibition portraits” of scenes from the film. I have included them below, with the catalogue description of each.

753. King Kong oversize gallery portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach of Kong in chains. (RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte double-weight 10 ¾ x 13 ¾ in. gallery print by Ernest A. Bachrach, with his rubber stamp and studio snipe on the verso. Image #601-75, composite of the 3 principal actors on stage dwarfed by Kong in chains, with puzzled look on his face. Excellent.

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755. King Kong oversize gallery portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach of Kong lifting Fay Wray from a tree. (RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte double-weight 10 ¾ x 13 ¾ in. gallery print by Ernest A. Bachrach, with his double rubber stamp and studio snipe on the verso. Image #601-88, composite of Kong lifting Fay Wray from a tree with a specifically lascivious look on his face. Excellent.

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756. King Kong oversize gallery portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach of Kong saving Fay Wray from Pterodactyl. (RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte double-weight 10 ¾ x 13 ¾ in. gallery print by Ernest A. Bachrach, with his double rubber stamp and studio snipe on the verso. Image #601-94, composite of Kong protectively clutching Fay Wray while battling a Pterodactyl, whose claws are shredding Wray’s already flimsy costume. Excellent.

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757. King Kong oversize gallery portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach of Kong storming the gate of Skull Island. (RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte double-weight 10 ¾ x 13 ¾ in. gallery print by Ernest A. Bachrach, with his rubber stamp and studio snipe on the verso. Image #601-83, composite of Kong storming through the giant oaken gates of Skull Island, with natives and ship’s crew fleeing in terror. Excellent.

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758. King Kong oversize gallery portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach of Kong dumping ship ‘ s crew off log bridge. (RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte double-weight 10 ¾ x 13 ¾ in. gallery print by Ernest A. Bachrach, with his double rubber stamp and studio snipe on the verso. Image #601-89, composite of Kong lifting log bridge to dislodge ship’s crew, who are fleeing the oncoming dinosaur at other end. Excellent.

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760. Exhibition portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach from King Kong of Fay Wray sacrifice at the altar gate. (RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte borderless double-weight 15 x 20 in. (image size 10 ½ x 13 ¼ in.) exhibition print (custom mounted onto 4-ply textured mount board) of the Skull Island natives sacrificing Fay Wray to Kong. Hand-printed by the photographer and specially mounted for exhibition, and signed “Ernest A Bachrach ’32” on mount recto lower right. Image #P601-79 in negative. Print is excellent, with very minor toning to mount.

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761. Exhibtion portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach from King Kong of Kong fighting Pteranodon over Fay Wray. (RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte borderless double-weight 15 x 20 in. (image size 10 ½ x 13 ¼ in.) exhibition print (custom mounted onto 4-ply textured mount board) of Kong fighting a Pteranodon with a barely-clad Fay Wray reclined at his feet. Hand-printed by the photographer and specially mounted for exhibition, and signed “King Kong. Fay Wray Ernest A Bachrach ’32” on mount recto lower right. Image #P601-93 in negative. Print is excellent, with minor chipping and handling to mount.

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The catalogue description for the image at the beginning of this post is:

754. King Kong oversize gallery portrait by Ernest A. Bachrach of Kong above NYC skyline.(RKO, 1933) Gelatin silver matte double-weight 10 ¾ x 13 ¾ in. gallery print by Ernest A. Bachrach, with his rubber stamp and studio snipe on the verso. Image #601-76, composite of a gigantic Kong towering over lightning-filled New York City nightscape. Excellent.

Awesome stuff!

This entry was posted in Archival, Film, Giant Monsters, King Kong, Pictorial art. Bookmark the permalink.

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