If I had to describe Eisei Amamoto’s character Dr. Who (no relation to Peter Cushing) in the 1967 film King Kong Escapes, I’d probably say something along the lines of “an enthusiastic go-getter with a can-do attitude and a real passion for customer service”. His client is an unspecified Asian country that wants the radioactive element X buried beneath the arctic, and the doc will not rest before he gets it to them.
His first plan is to dig it up using a mechanical King Kong he’s constructed (see The King Kong Show), using plans he has from his estranged pal Carl Nelson (Rhodes Reason). One would think that giant killer robots would have applications other than mining for a burgeoning superpower, but the doc promised them rocks, and by god he’s going to deliver them! Well, the robot fails due to all the radiation surrounding it (raising a question: was he able to retrieve the robot then, or did he leave it there and construct a new one?), and Who, undeterred, assures his liaison (Madam Piranha, played by Mie Hama), that this is just a temporary setback, and he’s got an outside-the-box plan B to get the ore: kidnap and hypnotize the real King Kong into doing it. Again, he could pitch her country on the sale of a brainwashed kaiju to do their bidding, but he promised this ore and he’s going to deliver on that at any cost.
There are more setbacks, but Dr. Who keeps up his optimism. The earpiece broke? Well, I’m sure Carl will help me. He won’t? Well, he’ll come around if I threaten his friends a little. Oh, that didn’t work and Kong escaped? No worries, I’ll just send Mechanikong after him, he’ll beat up Kong and drag him back here to be re-hypnotized and continue work. Everything will be fine.
Madam Piranha, on the other hand, doesn’t quite have confidence in the doctor’s vision, so when things go south, she switches sides and dies violently (because this is an Ishiro Honda movie, after all). Oh, I suppose the heroes are there too, but they lack both the charisma and fashion sense of prior pair, even if Akira Takarada and Linda Miller make an adorable couple.
The movie is certainly worth checking out, despite showcasing arguably the worst Kong costume, for its great synergy: it’s very much a Toho kaiju film, but it also brings in the best aspects of the cartoon while paying tribute to the iconic bits of the original King Kong untouched during King Kong vs Godzilla (with some James Bond and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea mixed in for good measure). Gorosaurus is arguably the best dinosaur costume Toho produced during its Showa-era run (boy, did Toho get their money’s worth out of that suit with later movies and TV), and the miniatures look quite nice by sticking to the 20-meter scale previously used in Frankenstein Conquers the World and War of the Gargantuas. Mechanikong is simply awesome, and it makes sense that the company later revisited the robot doppelganger idea for Godzilla (King Kong Escapes played in the Toho Champion Matsuri in 1973, for context). They even tried to bring Mechanikong back to the screen in the 90s, but rights evidently choked that project up (despite him appearing in some manga at the time).
But first and foremost, this is the Amamoto show. I feel bad for him; he was just really committed to digging up some rocks and everything went wrong. At least he got to boss Susumu Kurobe around a little before his organization was destroyed.