The film begins with Ann Darrow, a down-on-her-luck actress looking for work, meeting film director Carl Denham, who offers her a job in a new movie. They board the Venture to leave for the film shoot. The monkey that lives on board causes trouble throughout the trip. They arrive on the island and the natives, who are friendly to the crew, ask that the crew leave Ann so they can sacrifice her. Ann is then sacrificed to the giant ape King Kong who makes off with her into the jungle. Together they fight a dinosaur and are off the island in five minutes.
The film then follows Kong's rampage of New York City. Kong takes Anne up on top of the Empire State Building. The biplanes come and attack Kong with guns, but miss most of the time. When all the planes have been knocked down the army sends two blimps with a net in between them to catch Kong. They catch him successfully. Kong tries to get out of the net, but the net rips and when Kong reaches for Ann, he falls from the net. He bangs into a balcony and plummets to the ground. During his fall he is shown crying. Kong's "mightyness" ends when he slams into the streets of New York. However, Kong survives the fall to make a more family-friendly ending.