“Am I dreaming, or did I see a gorilla and a beautiful dame?”
A nightclub owner (Robert Armstrong) convinces a young woman (Terry Moore) living in Africa to come to Hollywood with her giant ape, Joe, and perform in shows with a rodeo star (Ben Johnson) — but will Joe adjust to life on the stage rather than in the wild?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Ray Harryhausen Films
- Terry Moore Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that while the “script wavers” for this “underrated fantasy gem about a friendly, incredibly strong 10-foot gorilla”, Joe remains “a fabulous, lovable (yet not completely domesticated) creature”, and “the special-effects and stop-motion work by King Kong‘s famous Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen are marvelous.” He praises the fact that “Joe actually seems real, so subtle are his movements and expressions” — which is indeed true; it’s easy to forget exactly how much work went into creating this pre-CGI film. Moore is sweet yet strong as Joe’s “owner”, and her dedication to ensuring he doesn’t remain stuck in a life of humiliation is endearing. The final sequence at the burning orphanage is genuinely harrowing.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen’s deservedly Oscar-winning special effects and animation
Yes, for its historical relevance as Harryhausen’s breakthrough debut.