|“||It wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.||„|
|~ Carl's famous quote after Kong's death.|
|“||The whole world will pay to see this. We're millionaires, boys! I'll share it with all of you. In a few months, his name will be up in lights on Broadway! Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World!||„|
|~ Carl to the group after defeating Kong.|
Carl Denham is a director of his films and the tritagonist of King Kong franchise.
He winds up bringing King Kong to New York City from Skull Island, resulting in him running amok. However, he tries to do right for his mistakes and eventually saves the day.
In the original 1933 film, he is portrayed by Robert Armstrong. In the 2005 film and video game, he is played by Jack Black, who also portrayed Dewey Finn, Ignacio, R.L. Stine, Jonathan Barnavelt, and voiced Eddie Riggs, and Po. In the animated musical, he is voiced by the late Dudley Moore, who also voiced Spin in Really Wild Animals.
|“||Defeat is always momentary.||„|
|~ Carl Denham's philosophy.|
|“||Just as you go down for the third and final time, as your head disappears beneath the waves, and your lungs fill with water, do you know what happens in those last precious seconds before you drown? Your whole life passes before your eyes...and if you've lived as a true American...you get to watch it all in color.||„|
|~ Denham in King Kong (2005).|
Denham had obtained a map of Skull Island and opted to produce his next film there. This means abandoning plans to film on set, which had lost him his studio's favor. They decide to take what footage he has and sell it as stock footage to other studios. This drives Denham to steal the equipment necessary to make it to the island. However, he has misinformed his crew that they were heading to Singapore, and only admits the truth to screenwriter Jack Driscoll, who is still working on the screenplay as they set off.
Upon reaching the island, Denham unsuccessfully attempts to establish peaceful relations with the natives by giving a native child a candy bar. The natives attack, two crew members are killed, and this ends up driving Denham and crew back to their ship. That night, Ann is captured by the natives and delivered to Kong. Denham, Driscoll, and other crew members set off in a rescue mission. He films the first dinosaur attack on camera and films the death of a crew member in the swamp in the extended cut (though this was by accident: he was running the camera to see if it still worked, and the last crewman out of the swamp happened to be killed in its line-of-sight). He survives the attack by a Ferrucutus in the extended cut (in which no one dies, but during which some are injured), the manic Brontosaurus stampede, the swamp journey of the extended cut, and the log chasm and insect pit, during which time he loses all the footage he'd been making, causing a brief period of berserker-like fury as he lashes out at the attacking bugs, this ironically being what keeps him alive. Upon returning to the island, Denham is the first of the crew, besides Ann, to see Kong. After surviving many attacks and eventually rescuing Ann, Denham decides to switch his plan from producing a film to capturing Kong and sailing him to New York City after his camera is destroyed in the incident with Kong and the log. He expects to make a fortune showing off Kong, and makes conflicting promises to crew on how he will divide it.
Kong eventually escapes and rampages through New York City, captures Ann and is eventually killed by airplanes. Upon reaching Kong's body, Denham is heard to say that "It wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast."
The World of Kong, published the same year, elaborates that Denham escapes lawsuits by blaming Kong's rampage on the company that made the chrome steel chains which failed to contain him. Denham returns to Skull Island to lead a scientific expedition in 1935, along with seven successive expeditions for the next decade, escaping before the island is finally swallowed by the sea.
- Although he's considered the tritagonist of the 2005 remake, he was actually speculated to be an antagonist.