BrianRxm Coins in Movies 62/110
Mighty Joe Young (1949)
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The 1949 RKO Radio Pictures film "Mighty Joe Young" is about a giant gorilla who is found in Africa and
brought to Hollywood to appear in a nightclub act.
 
The film was produced by the men who created the 1933 film "King Kong", this time with a smaller and
less violent gorilla and a happier ending.
 
The film is also known as "Mister Joseph Young of Africa".
 
Max O'Hara, a long-time show promoter, is running an African safari to capture animals for his latest show.
He finds a giant male gorilla which is the "pet" of Jill Young, a local girl who has raised the animal.
Max brings Jill and the gorilla, now named "Mighty Joe Young", to California to appear as the
star attraction in a new nightclub show.
 
One evening the show audience is encouraged to throw large imitation cardboard "coins" at Joe.
The coins have a picture of Joe on them along with the name of the show.
 
Later some men give Joe alcohol causing Joe to go on a rampage.
 
One of the film crewmen saved the mold used to make the prop coins and copies of the coin
are sometimes listed for sale.
Mighty Joe Young
1. Title
 
The film begins somewhere in Africa.
 
Mighty Joe Young
2. Africa
 
This scene is much more idyllic than most scenes of Africa.
 
Jill Young lives with her father on small a ranch. Two men stop by with a baby gorilla for sale.
 
Mighty Joe Young
3. Jill buys a gorilla
 
Jill buys the gorilla with some toys and her father's flashlight.
Jill's father warns her that the gorilla will become big but allows her to keep her "pet".
 
Twelve years later in New York City.
 
Mighty Joe Young
4. New York
 
Max O'Hara is a long-time nightclub show promoter whose last show featuring cowboys has closed.
Oklahoman Gregg Johnson, one of the cowboys, visits Max's office to look for another job.
 
Mighty Joe Young
5. Gregg applies for a job
 
Above Max is a poster for one of his previous shows, "Earthquake Ballet".
 
Max's next show will have an African theme, and he brings Gregg and some other cowboys with him
to Africa to help capture wild animals. Crawford, a local safari guide, runs the operation
 
Max and Crawford are about to leave when they see something which even the experienced hunter
Crawford has never seen before, a giant gorilla.
 
Mighty Joe Young
6. The gorilla appears
 
He opens a cage with a lion in it, freeing the lion which he then attacks and kills.
 
Some expedition cowboys try to rope the gorilla but fail.
 
Mighty Joe Young
7. Roping the gorilla
 
The gorilla is not captured and manages to fight off the cowboys without serious injury to them.
 
A young woman, Jill Young, shows up and orders the gorilla to stop fighting.
She tells the men to leave the animal alone and to get off her land.
 
Later the Max's group visits Jill at her ranch.
 
Mighty Joe Young
8. Max, Crawford, Gregg, Jill
 
Gregg apologizes to Jill and Max offers her a contract to appear with her "pet" at a nightclub
show in Hollywood.
 
Jill signs the contract as she has been alone since her father died and is also a little excited
about going to California.
 
Gregg mentions that he would like to live in Africa.
 
Mighty Joe Young
9. Max O'Hara's Golden Safari show
 
The show location is modeled on the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub which was part of the
Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
 
Mighty Joe Young
10. Golden Safari show interior
 
Max's show has lions kept behind plastic screens, and many African themed dancers and musicians.
 
Max feels a little silly wearing an exaggerated "safari" outfit.
 
Mighty Joe Young
11. Max dressed up for his entrance
 
After some preliminary acts appear, the audience is ready for the star attraction, "Mighty Joe Young".
 
Mighty Joe Young
12. Mighty Joe Young holding piano stand
 
Mighty Joe Young holds a rotating stand on which Jill plays the tune "Beautiful Dreamer" on the piano.
The tune has been Joe's favorite since he was an infant.
 
One night ten strongmen are to engage Joe in a tug-of-war rope contest over a pond.
They include Primo Carnera, the 1933-34 World Heavyweight Boxing champion, and Tor Johnson,
a wrestler and actor known as the "Swedish Angel".
 
Mighty Joe Young
13. Primo Carnera and the Swedish Angel ready for Joe
 
Joe is able to pull all ten men into the pond.
 
The show is a big hit and is still running ten weeks later.
 
Mighty Joe Young
14. Billboard advertisement
 
This address "9336 West Washington, Hollywood" is actually the RKO motion picture studios address.
 
Jill and Joe are getting homesick for Africa, especially Joe as he is kept in a large cage between shows.
 
Mighty Joe Young
15. Jill wants out
 
Max talks Jill into continuing with the show.
 
The seventeenth week show features Jill as an organ-grinder and Joe as the monkey.
 
aiters hand out nine inch wide imitation coins which are to be thrown at Joe.
 
Mighty Joe Young
16. Waiter hands out coins
 
"Big money for big monkey"
 
The three men in the scene have been drinking and will later provoke Joe to anger.
 
Mighty Joe Young prop coin reproduction:
 
Mighty Joe Young
17. Mighty Joe Young prop coin reproduction
 
The coins are around nine inches in diameter and have the legends:
"MAX O'HARA'S GOLDEN SAFARI" and "ONE CENT"
along with a space for a written in seat number.
 
An announcer states that the coins are numbered if Joe catches a coin the thrower will get free champagne.
People begin throwing their coins.
 
Mighty Joe Young
18. Mighty Joe Young catches coins
 
The large coins fly at Joe causing him to panic and Max closes the show.
 
Back in his cage, three obnoxious drunk men give Joe some liquor.
 
Mighty Joe Young
19. Joe gets a drink
 
One of the men touches a cigarette lighter to Joe's finger with the expected results.
Joe breaks out of his cage and heads for the stage.
 
Mighty Joe Young
20. Joe on rampage
 
Jill is able to move Joe back to his cage but the city gets a court order to shoot Joe.
 
Max decides to joins Gregg and Jill in saving Joe by getting him out of the country.
Max deceives the police while the others load Joe into a moving van.
 
Mighty Joe Young
21. Moving joe
 
They switch Joe to another truck and on the way to the docks and a ship, pass a burning building.
The burning building scenes in the film were originally tinted red.
 
Mighty Joe Young
22. Children's home fire
 
The building is a childrens home and most of the children and staff are outside.
Jill, Gregg, and Joe rescue the remaining children from the fire.
 
Mighty Joe Young
23. Joe rescuing Jill
 
"No one is going to shoot Joe now".
 
Max's assistant brings a film projector into Max's New York office and runs a short film.
 
Mighty Joe Young
24. Jill, Gregg, and Joe back in Africa
 
The film end title is shown.
 
Mighty Joe Young
25. Good bye from Joe Young
Notes:
 
Cast:
Terry Moore as Jill Young
Ben Johnson as Gregg Johnson
Robert Armstrong as Max O'Hara
Denis Green as Crawford (Safari guide)
Mr. Joseph Young as Himself
 
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Writers: Ruth Rose, Merian C. Cooper
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