June 13th, 2011: Mighty Joe Young (1949)

Cast and Crew: John Ford (Producer)

What It’s About: As a kid Jill Young (Terry Moore) convinces her father to allow her to keep a gorilla, who she names Joe, as a pet.  When both are grown up, Hollywood promoter Max O’Hara (Robert Armstrong) shows up in the area looking for African animals to capture and bring back to his new night club.  Max convinces Jill to return with him to Hollywood and take Joe with her, to become a variety show act at his club.  The problems begin when things get out of hand and the enormous Joe escapes from the club.

Why Watch it Today?: Ben Johnson, who plays Max’s right hand man in charge of capturing the animals, was born today in 1918.  Johnson was a rodeo performer and ranch hand who started out as a stuntman and gradually moved up to supporting roles, especially in films by the great Western director John Ford.  Here Johnson gets one of his rare near leading man and love interest roles, and he is quite likable playing, what else, a cowboy.  Mighty Joe Young brings the creative team behind King Kong-director Ernest B. Schoedsack, writer and co-director Merrian C. Cooper, screenwriter Ruth Rose, star Robert Armstrong, and special effects master Willis O’Brien-back together for a much more lighthearted take on the idea of an enormous gorilla brought to the city by a promoter.

Where to Get It: Netflix (Rental only), or Amazon

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