Jack and the Beanstalk (1952)

Abbot and Costello doing their take on the fable of Jack and the Beanstalk, huh? Not exactly the first thing you would think the comedy duo would choose to film, considering their previous team up movies with several of Universal monsters. I wonder if they ever thought about doing one about Snow White? That would have had some really interesting possibilities.

As for this movie, it didn’t really grab me. It’s watchable, but it’s certainly less funny than say, The Noose Hangs High and the fairy tale gimmick doesn’t really lend itself to much glamor or particularly good material for jokes. That isn’t to say there isn’t good humor, the bit where the titular Jack and the giant’s maid dance together and her gigantic stature keeps getting in the way and hurting Jack was pretty funny. As was Abbot and Costello’s normal antics. But the setting itself didn’t amount to much, humorwise. Another thing I did genuinely like about the movie was the fact that the frame up sequence borrows from the Wizard of Oz and has the movie begin in black and white, while the fairy tale itself is entirely done in glorious SuperCineColor. That transition from black and white to color gave some oomph to the movie, as it truly felt like you had entered a magical fairy tale. The double act for all the lead characters was also a fun idea and adds nice little subtext to Jack’s dream, so you did have good ingredients here, with just a mediocre result.

As for faults, the romance subplot with the Prince and Princess, where the joke is that they were already betrothed to each other as members of the royal family of neighboring kingdoms and just had not yet met in person so when they meet in the castle in the cloud they think they’re falling in love with a random commoner,  was a cute idea but the fact that they are basically enamored five seconds after meeting sucks all life from the set up. Their mutual song number was also pretty forgettable so the entire thing is a bit of a misfire. I suppose the biggest disappointment of all in the entire movie for me was the giant. I was wondering how they were going to do the whole giant bit considering the technical limitations of the era, and  turns out the giant was just plain ol’ Buddy Baer, in all his 6 ft 6.5 in (1.99 m) stature, with make up and no trick shots  or nothing. Oh phooey. But to be fair, he does look really menacing and does a good job at being an intimidating, tall presence despite being only slightly taller than your average Joe Schmoe and not a literal giant. For what he was, it was okay. And that’s  basically the entire movie summed up for you.


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