Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (1952). Director: Jean Yarbrough.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Strong. He won't be back."

Jack Strong (Lou Costello) brings his beloved cow Henry [?] to Mr. Dinklepuss (Bud Abbott), the butcher, who gives him some magic beans instead of cash. But the beans really are magical, and soon there's a humongous beanstalk in Jack's backyard. He and Dinklepuss climb up to not only rescue the princess (Shaye Cogan) kidnapped by the giant (Buddy Baer) but to get back the hen that lays the golden eggs which the giant stole from Jack's mother (Barbara Brown). Up in the clouds the boys encounter not only the giant, but also a very tall gal named Polly (Dorothy Ford) and Prince Arthur (James Alexander). Most of the cast members do double-duty in the film, as the main fantasy story is framed by "modern" segments in which A & C become babysitters to a young boy (David Stollery) who wants Lou to read him a fairy tale.

Jack and the Beanstalk is a quaint kid's film that is not without entertainment value. Lou Costello with his winning personality is especially good in the movie. Buddy Bear, who also appeared in Giant from the Unknown, is made up horrifically enough as the giant. The romantic couple, Cogan and Alexander, both seem to have broad, craggy faces like brother and sister. The scene when the fellows climb the beanstalk is effective with some animation and matte paintings showing the ground far, far below. The songs in the film are by Heinz Roemheld, and include the catchy if derivative I Fear Nothing," as well as "Darlene,' "Dreamer's Cloth," "Jack and the Beanstalk," and "He Never Looked Better in His Life." Alexander's dubbed singing voice is quite good. The voice of the talking harp was done by Arthur Shields, who could be seen in Daughter of Dr. Jekyll. This was Cogan's last picture of two. Alexander did three more movies and two television episodes, dying only eight years after this film was made at 46.

Verdict: Not exactly Babes in Toyland but fun. **1/2.

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