Sunday, September 20, 2015

KING KONG ESCAPES TO YOKOHAMA! Haruo Nakajima and Teruyoshi Nakano Come to the Rescue!

Suit actor Haruo Nakajima (left) and SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano (right) answer questions about the popular Toho classic King Kong Escapes (1967). Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today I attended a screening in Yokohama of the Toho monster romp King Kong Escapes (1967), starring Rhodes Reason, Linda Miller, Mie Hama, and Akira Takarada. The film has been one of my favorites for a long time, and to see a 35mm print of this classic kaiju film on the big screen was a real treat. But it gets even better than that.

Haruo Nakajima demonstrates his suit-acting techniques for the audience. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The guests of honor for the screening were none other than Haruo Nakajima (who portrayed King Kong in the film as a suit actor) and Teruyoshi Nakano (who worked as an assistant SFX director under the great Eiji Tsuburaya). The two held a lengthy Q&A, signed autographs, and posed for photos.

Teruyoshi Nakano gives a detailed explanation about the SFX of King Kong Escapes. Photo by Brett Homenick.

When I arrived at the train station, I first made my way to the men's room. As I was just about to enter, I passed Nakano-san. We greeted each other, and I continued on my way inside. Once I left the restroom and approached the ticket gate, however, I saw Nakano-san waiting for me so that we could walk to the theater together. To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised, but given Nakano-san's warmth and generosity, it should have been anything but a surprise to me. That's just the type of person he is.

Teruyoshi Nakano discusses SFX director Eiji Tsuburaya's work on King Kong Escapes. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After about a 10-minute walk, we arrived at the theater, and we started catching up with many familiar faces. Just before the movie was scheduled to start, Haruo Nakajima arrived, and the guests of honor joined us as we watched the film. The 35mm print was absolutely gorgeous, and seeing Rhodes Reason on the big screen reminded me how much I miss him. Rhodes definitely would have gotten a kick out of this screening!

Yours truly with Teruyoshi Nakano, one of the coolest people in all of Japan!

After the film, Nakajima-san and Nakano-san took the stage and answered the questions posed to them by the moderator. The two spoke at length about their King Kong Escapes memories, but other subjects were broached, such as working for Akira Kurosawa.

Between Haruo Nakajima and Teruyoshi Nakano, two very friendly gentlemen!

After the questions, the audience got a chance to get autographs and photos taken. The final event of the evening was dinner with the guests. I sat at Nakano-san's table, and he regaled us with many stories from the Toho lot. 

Another great evening has come to an end, but the next event isn't too far off. Stay tuned!

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