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Mighty Joe Young
Mighty Joe Young
Actors: Terry Moore, Ben Johnson, Robert Armstrong, Frank McHugh, Douglas Fowley
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy
PG     2005     1hr 24min

A slick nightclub owner (King Kong veteran Robert Armstrong) discovers the giant ape frolicking in Africa as the beloved pet of a young girl (Terry Moore). He brings both to Hollywood as a floor-show sensation, until some ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Terry Moore, Ben Johnson, Robert Armstrong, Frank McHugh, Douglas Fowley
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Creators: J. Roy Hunt, Ted Cheesman, John Ford, Merian C. Cooper, Ruth Rose
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Classics, Drama, Pop, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Studio: Turner Home Ent
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/22/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/1949
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1949
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 24min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, Swahili
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Russ B. (lostoasis13) from RED BANK, NJ
Reviewed on 8/9/2009...
The Legendary Willis O'Brien Giant Ape Classic 2nd only to the One and Only
"King Kong". For you youthful abominations who have unsympathetic views of classic black and white movies you've never even seen, I strongly recomend you.. Think Again!
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Wonderful commentary track, nice restoration highlight of th
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 12/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The third in a trio of films by Merian Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack and Willis O'Brien's featuring giant apes , "Mighty Joe Young" has a heart of gold. He's a big ape with a soft spot for Jill Young (Terry Moore) that raised him. Promoter and nightclub owner Max O'Hara (Robert Armstrong from "King Kong") and Gregg a cowboy from Texas (Ben Johnson)attack the 18 foot tall Gorilla when they first encounter him in the wilds of Africa. When they discover he can be friendly and that he's only protecting his turf, O'Hara sees Young as the lynchpin for his new nightclub. O'Hara convinces Jill to take Joe to New York for his nightclub based around an African theme.

Featuring dazzling effects that echo "Kong", "Young" may not have the amazing look of the previous film but the dazzling mix of animation and live action done by Ray Harryhausen under O'Brien's direction looks pretty impressive even today. While the story might be a little slow initially for modern audiences, it has a wonderful pay off and an ending that beats the remake by a mile.

Warner has done a terrific job of transfering "Joe" to DVD. The grain isn't quite as bad as "Kong" (the source material was, no doubt, in better shape)and Warner has restored the color to the fire sequence bringing the film close to its original glory. The commentary track features legendary animator Ray Harryhausen (who did much of the hands on animation), actress Terry Moore and visual effects Ken Ralston discussing the making of the film. There are also a duo of great extras. The Chiodo Brothers animators currently working in the industry interview Harryhausen about the effects work on the film. "Ray Harryhausen and Mighty Joe Young" takes a glimpse back to Harryhausen's work on this pivotal film with O'Brien (and the only film to win O'Brien and his crew an Oscar for visual effects). We also ge the original theatrical trailer as an added bonus.

A classic finally gets the restoration and loving care it deserves."
"Whosever card Joe picks, gets a free bottle of champagne."
J. COSBY | SF, CA | 02/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tacked onto a double-bill with 1933's "King Kong", "Mighty Joe Young" should be considered Stop-Motion Animation 101 for film collegiates and aspiring special-effects men. Though I viewed the films 2 nights apart, they are 16 years apart in their technological advances. And the advances are (forgive the pun) monstrous.

Since I've been going over the Golden Age of Stop-Motion recently with "7th Voyage of Sinbad", "Jason and the Argonauts", "Clash of the Titans", etc., to see the technique really bloom as it does in this sweet-but-mos-def-not-saccharine tale of a teenage white girl in Africa and the big ape lug she raised fom birth, is rather enlightening. I'm 25 years old, but I was firmly entertained by this effects showcase. It's a good one, I'm telling you.

I'll skim the plot for those who just want the gist: safari nightclub owner travels to Africa, lures Jill and her oversized simian pal Joseph Young to America to perform sideshow acts, human cruelty makes Joe go... apesh-t, Jill and her love interest intercept Joe and speed away back to Africa, but not before a noble pit stop...

No need to compare "Kong" and "Joe": same director, producer, writer, editor, and technical wizard -- Willis O'Brien. A little-known ace up "Joe"'s sleeve, however, is a young-but-bonafide budding genius named one Ray Harryhausen, credited as "First Technician" on the project. His precocious mastery (under O'Brien's supervision) is certainly evident and an all-around wondrous sight to gaze on. The SPFX techniques (rear projection, stop-motion blended with live-action) foreshadows what he would end up polishing in subsequent films, such as "Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers" and "It Came From Beneath The Sea". Joe is given mannerisms, playfulness, and a CHARACTER like "Kong". This 15-foot high (to scale) gorilla is one fleshed-out, emotive, angry, confused, but above all impressive creation.

And then they get him sloshed on 3 bottles of wine and burn his hand with a Zippo lighter (oops), which will lead him smack into the middle of two nightmarish set pieces (described in the editor's review). The results, even to these CGI-accustomed eyes, were truly awesome in Webster's definition of the word. Yeah, the film's black-and-white. Sure, the acting's fairly pantomime and wooden. But Mr. Joseph Young ensures that you will pardon all that, in case you have a bias on old films.

What is most endearing after it's all done is that the effects aid the relationship story BEFORE becoming an intense extravaganza. Lo, the days when filmmakers actually knew how to do that stuff. They called it "craft" back then... "Mighty Joe Young" should probably be considered a really offbeat buddy-movie with an occasional flaring temper. It's thoroughly entertaining, has a nice message to teach the kiddies, yet what happens in the story is distinctly adult, though less adult than "Kong". Might want to wait 'til the kid's 10 to show 'em this one. But this monkey's a real showstopper.

The 1998 remake: GOOD EFFECTS WORK, again. More syrup 'cause it's produced by Disney, more kid-oriented, but a very loveable leading man, nonetheless. Still inferior to the original, but worth a watch.

"Mighty Joe Young"(1949): 4.5 stars, but I'll round up for him. Joe's alright, like Argyle."
Possibly the best commentary track ever!
Daniel Pinto | Brooklyn, NY USA | 11/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've seen the movie 100 times. Yet watching it while listening to the commentary track was a brand new experience! Who knew half the interesting trivia associated with this gem! The other 2 bonus interviews with Ray are the things dreams are made of! Not only a super value for the money but so above and beyond my expectations its not funny. Did I mention I liked it?"