Hoping to make the magic of King Kong happen again, the production team of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack came up with the 1949 special-effects smorgasbord Mighty Joe Young. Robert Armstrong reprises his Kong portrayal of Carl Denham as hot-shot showbiz entrepreneur Max O'Hara. While in Africa looking for authentic decorations for his new night club, O'Hara makes the acquaintance of Mr. Joseph Young, a ten-foot-tall ape. Unlike King Kong, Joe Young has a heart of gold, thanks in great part to his owner, a lovely lass named Jill Young (Terry Moore). Against her better judgment, Jill allows O'Hara to bring Joe back to the States as a nightclub attraction. Joe proves to be a smash as he participates in Jill's musical act (he lifts her grand piano while she plays "Beautiful Dreamer") and performs a tug-of-war routine with an imposing lineup of professional wrestlers (including Tor Johnson, Man Mountain Dean and Primo Carnera). But when the patrons go home each night, Joe is unhappily relegated to his cage. When a group of obnoxious drunks begin teasing Joe, the disgruntled ape breaks loose and goes on a rampage. Slated to be put to death, Joe redeems himself by rescuing a group of screaming children from an orphanage fire. Featured in the cast are Ben Johnson as the nominal romantic lead, Frank McHugh as Robert Armstrong's assistant, and an uncredited Irene Ryan as a cocktail-lounge patron.
by Hal Erickson synopsis