Monday, August 18, 2003


A Video Review of "Mighty Joe Young" (1949)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

You can look at this two different ways. This is a great new original movie made with the skilled special effects of newcomer Ray Harryhausen or it's the second second rate sequel to Willis O'Brien's King Kong.

Harryhausen approached O'Brien to teach him the stop motion animation skills he had developed and Harryhausen mastered the art. Mighty Joe Young is the film where this took place, the changing of the guard, the passing of the torch from the old to the new.

While it's true that O'Brien tried to milk the Kong idea until his death, becoming partially responsible for the immediate sequel Son of Kong and the much later and unofficial King Kong Vs. Godzilla. Up until Mighty Joe Young of course he never again reproduced that same magic.

It is the little things that make Joe charming. Unlike his other primate predecessors he's not a bad gorilla. As a matter of fact there is no real villain which makes for a nicer story. Which by the way the story is girl meets monkey, girl meets cowboy, girl goes to Hollywood. Monkey gets drunk, rampages then redeems himself. Girl, cowboy and monkey live happily ever after.

Not to be missed are the show at the club featuring a tug-of-war with the strongest men of the day (sorely missed in the Disney remake) and the electrifying climax at the children's hospital with the special red tinting. Wonderful highlights that with Harryhausen's nearly human Joe make this film the classic it is.

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