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Mighty Joe Young (1949)


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Release Date: Jan 1, 1949 Wide



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Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 7,691

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Movie Info

Hoping to make the magic of King Kong happen again, the production team of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack came up with the 1949 special-effects smorgasbord Mighty Joe Young. Robert Armstrong reprises his Kong portrayal of Carl Denham as hot-shot showbiz entrepreneur Max O'Hara. While in Africa looking for authentic decorations for his new night club, O'Hara makes the acquaintance of Mr. Joseph Young, a ten-foot-tall ape. Unlike King Kong, Joe Young has a heart of gold, thanks in great

Nov 22, 2005

RKO Radio Pictures Inc.

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All Critics (23) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (1) | DVD (1)

More of a historic novelty than an action film.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Though in the shadows of Kong it still brings back fond memories of how to make a special effect film back in the old days.

July 24, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Great escapist fun: a West Coast 'King Kong'

July 15, 2003
Kalamazoo Gazette

Tame, but well done giant ape flick.

December 29, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Great Willis O'Brien effects, a good story and fine cast. A wonderful fantasy, not as good as King Kong, but still fun to watch.

August 22, 2002
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

An entertaining "friendlier" version of King Kong.

July 25, 2002

Audience Reviews for Mighty Joe Young

16 years after the world got a glimpse of the mighty 'King Kong', once again the sight of a huge gorilla amazed audiences around the world. In a completely different approach but sharing similar plot highs and lows 'Mighty Joe Young' rode on the success of Kong, unfortunately the film did not do as well but still managed to impress with better sharper special effects.

Its not hard to see why this film may not have done so well really, I must admit to never really liking this film as it always did feel like a Kong rip off. The entire plot including many sequences are virtually scene for scene remakes of Kong. The main difference being in this film the huge gorilla is a pet of sorts to a female human, they both live in harmony in their native Africa and 'Joe' is voluntarily handed over to the money grabbing businessman.

Throughout the film the friendship between 'Joe' and his female owner is never broken, she is always there to guide and help him. But this still doesn't really alter the fact the film follows very closely to Kong. 'Joe' is brought to NY and used in a show, almost a gimmick, for the roaring crowds. In time he grows tired and angry of his daily grind, some drunken humans pester him, push him and he cracks, going (excuse the pun) ape shit and destroying the club.

From this point on the film veers away from Kong and takes it own path. Naturally this path is pretty predictable and offers a sappy heroic crescendo for the ape, you do think the film will go the way of Kong, but uniquely it doesn't.

This of course being a rather old film I can't really yak on about plot issues and silly ideas...but I'm gonna. The whole thing is fantasy of course but there are still daft plot ideas, the whole fact that 'Jill' decides to allow 'Joe' to go to New York to perform in a club is ridiculous, as if he would prefer that to roaming the wilds of his home country Africa. The actual club is gigantic!!! a feat of engineering in itself! plus the fact they have real wild animals in there behind glass seems a slight health n safety risk no?. Should I mention how convenient it was for the escaping humans and 'Joe' to just stumble across an orphanage that was burning down with lots of innocent little kids in desperate need of saving? nah.

Yep this is a black n white film from the 40's so yes it will be incredibly corny with terrible acting (saying Ben Johnson, the male love interest, was wooden is an understatement), ludicrous plot moments, reckless use of real animals along with disregard for them in the plot (poor old lions) and that good old fashioned male chauvinism as the blokes go around merrily threatening the dames.

As an upgraded sequel of sorts to Kong this film is great for the effects, Harryhausen's animation and Kong model constructor Marcel Delgado work wonders. The new gorilla model is a much slicker flashier piece showcasing more facial gestures and detail. Even to this day its amazing to see the switch from live action to the models as they interact together. As for the rest...well its a bit of a rehash really, nothing too special as we saw it all with Kong, so really it feels a bit late.
May 10, 2013

Super Reviewer

The original film of Mighty Joe Young, dating back to 1949.

There are obvious differences when comparing to the later version, CGI, effects etc, but the general plot of the film remains the same. This version's Joe, does look a little 'Reet Petit', but I still feel that was good for the year it was made.

An interesting watch, if only to see the evolution of an animated creature.
August 5, 2011

Super Reviewer

This was the best movie ever growing up, I must have watched it a 100 times on WPIX and WOR. If it was on I was watching it and to see it on DVD brought back enjoyable memories. A fantastic movie when you consider it was made in 1949 the special effects are incredible. About a young girl who is discovered with a gorilla, a very large gorilla and is brought to America for shows. Not as big or crazy as King Kong, but more enjoyable. The only disappointment in the film was near the end when the filmed turned an awful brown color, my guess original film was damaged, and that's a shame. I'm giving this one 5 stars how could I give it less. The commentary film was an added bonus.
March 25, 2011
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

An extremely bizarre movie that blends apes with cowboys. I really don't know what was going inside their minds when they thought that this would make a logical part III to King Kong (even though it's not really a sequel). It's kind've fun to watch because it's so corny and ridiculous.
December 5, 2009

Super Reviewer

    1. Max O'Hara: Am I dreaming, or did I just see a gorilla?
    – Submitted by Alan Torres Dwyer B (8 months ago)
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