Recapturing Mighty Joe Young: Cast and Crew Signatures

Mighty Joe Young: Cast and Crew

The Show Joe Must Go On

The Show Joe Must Go On (1949)
Ink and pencil on Sunset illustration board
School of Art Museum and Galleries, Aberystwyth University; Raymond Durgnat bequest, 2002

This board was signed in January 1948 by members of the cast and crew. There are forty-five signatures in all. Principal photography had commenced in mid-December 1947 and was completed in March 1948. Work on the special effects for the film took at least an additional fourteen months, and planning had begun as early as 1945. ‘It was touch and go for a year or so whether the picture was ever going into production,’ Ray Harryhausen recalled.

The board contains sly allusions to production headaches, budget worries and sleepless nights haunted by multiplying Joes. Disney cartoonist Scotty Whitaker, signing top left, spent weeks animating the paper coins that the nightclub crowd was encouraged to toss at Joe during his organ grinder act. Whitaker’s challenge was to match the path of the coins – hand-painted, frame by frame, onto celluloid – with the gorilla model’s movements to create the illusion of Joe catching them in flight.

Scotty Whitaker’s ‘monkey money,’ as it appears on screen

The signatures appear in no particular order. Senior members signed alongside assistants and secretarial staff. Among the major players is the director, Ernest B. Schoedsack, signing informally as ‘Monty.’ His wife, signing as ‘Ruth Schoedsack’ wrote the screenplays for King Kong and Mighty Joe Young under her pen name Ruth Rose.

Screen credit for ‘Mr. Joseph Young’

I contacted Terry Moore to ask who “‘Tony’ Moore” might be, but the mystery of that signature – and several others on this list – remains unsolved.

Not all of the names listed above appear in the credits on screen. Some have never been associated with the film. This board is a unique record of a production underway.

Navigating the Display

Recapturing Mighty Joe Young: Introduction

Ray Harryhausen: Influence and Inspiration

Mighty Joe Young: The Album

Mighty Joe Young: Cast and Crew

Mighty Joe Young: Promotion and Propaganda

1940s Animation

Drawing and Animation Workshops

The Raymond Durgnat Bequest

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