Mighty Joe Young

Last Updated on: June 26th, 2024

Mighty Joe Young (1998 Movie)

“Mighty Joe Young” is a live-action adventure film released by RKO Radio Pictures in 1949. It was produced by the same team that created “King Kong” (1933) and shares a similar storyline involving a giant ape. The film was directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, and Merian C. Cooper served as the executive producer.

The plot revolves around a young woman named Jill Young (played by Terry Moore) who befriends a baby gorilla named Joe during her time in Africa. As Joe grows, he becomes a massive and powerful creature. When Jill returns to her home in California, she is reunited with Joe, who has now become a full-grown gorilla. They form a strong bond, but Joe’s enormous size becomes problematic, and he causes havoc in the city.

With the help of an animal-loving nightclub owner named Max O’Hara (played by Robert Armstrong), Jill tries to find a safe and suitable place for Joe to live freely. However, a greedy promoter named Mr. Strasser (played by Douglas Fowley) sees an opportunity to exploit the giant gorilla for profit and captures Joe for his own benefit.

As Joe is showcased in a nightclub performance, it becomes evident that he is unhappy and suffering. Jill and Max must join forces to rescue Joe and return him to his natural habitat in Africa. The climax of the film involves an intense and action-packed escape from captivity and a thrilling journey back to the jungle.

“Mighty Joe Young” was notable for its innovative use of stop-motion animation to bring the giant ape to life, thanks to the work of special effects artist Ray Harryhausen. The film received critical acclaim upon its release, particularly for the visual effects and the emotional depth of the story. It was also praised for the performances of the lead actors, especially Terry Moore and the expressive portrayal of Joe by various animators.

Over the years, “Mighty Joe Young” has become a beloved classic in the monster/adventure film genre. It was remade in 1998 with a film of the same name, which featured updated special effects and modern storytelling. The original film’s enduring legacy and its impact on the development of special effects in cinema continue to be recognized by film historians and enthusiasts.

Additional Details

  • Movie Studio:
  • Year Released:
  • Type of Movie: Live-Action
  • Box Office: $50.6 million
  • Awards: Nominated Academy Award
  • IMDB Link


  • Bill Paxton: Professor Gregory “Gregg” O’Hara
  • Charlize Theron: Jill Young
  • John Alexander: Mighty Joe Young
  • Verne Troyer: Baby Joe Young
  • Rade Šerbedžija: Andrei Strasser
  • Regina King: Cecily Banks
  • Peter Firth: Garth
  • Naveen Andrews: Pindi
  • David Paymer: Harry Ruben
  • Robert Wisdom: Kweli
  • Christian Clemenson: Jack
  • Scarlett Pomers: Charlotte
  • Geoffrey Blake: Vern
  • Lawrence Pressman: Doctor Elliot Baker
  • Linda Purl: Doctor Ruth Young
  • Mika Boorem: Young Jill Young
  • Cory Buck: Jason
  • Reno Wilson: Poacher


  • Director: Ron Underwood
  • Producer: Ted Hartley and Tom Jacobson
  • Music: James Horner

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of DisneyNews.us. My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other site isDMR.