Mighty Joe Young (1949)

Mighty Joe Young is basically “King Kong lite”, from its tone (decidedly lighter) to the size of its gorilla (decidedly smaller) to the role of its black cast (decidedly less important). Like King Kong, the role of the black people in Mighty Joe Young is peripheral — natives sharing the wilderness with the giant monkey — but while Kong‘s black people are ominous savages looking to sacrifice white women, in MJY they’re benign and peaceful, just going about their business: picking crops, collecting water, and bartering baby gorillas for flashlights.

The locals don’t even bat an eye as white gal Jill (Terry Moore) lives amongst them, surviving apparently by turning tricks and eating potassium-rich gorilla dung (just a hunch). Basically, these darkies are less offensive than those in King Kong, but they’re also less vital to the story. Frankly, they’re non-entities. As the American Civil Rights Movement began to take shape, such a constriction of black horror roles in order to (consciously or unconsciously) avoid stepping on toes soon became a trend, and horror movies of the ’50s all but omitted black people altogether. Ah, the good ol’ days…

I suppose “Earth” would’ve been too vague.
“I don’t wanna play Whitie in the Bucket any more…”
“Intestines for m’lady?”
“How’d we end up in Hell?”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here