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Jack and the Beanstalk

USA 1952
produced by
Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Alex Gottlieb, Pat Costello (executive) for Exclusive Productions/Warner Brothers
directed by Jean Yarbrough
starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Buddy Baer, Shaye Cogan, James Alexander, Dorothy Ford, Barbara Brown, David Stollery, William Farnum, Almira Sessions, Johnny Conrad, Mel Blanc (voices)
story by Bud Costello, screenplay by Nathaniel Curtis, music by Heinz Roemheld

Abbott & Costello, Jack and the Beanstalk

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jack (Lou Costello) is supposed to babysit an unruly child (David Stollery), but soon enough he finds himself sleeping on the job, dreaming himself to be the lead in the classic tale Jack and the Beanstalk. In his version, he and butcher Dinkelpuss (Bud Abbott) climb up a giant beanstalk to the giant's realm, to free the princess (Shaye Cogan) and recover Jack's hen that lays golden eggs. Of course, they become prisoners of the giant (Buddy Baer) before long, but have soon plotted an escape.

But before they can do that they have to make the princess and prince Arthur (James Alexander), both also prisoners of the giant who back on earth were promised to each other but do not know each other at all ... but now that they don't know who each other is, it's a perfect chance to see if it can work out ...

Of course, soon the prince and the princess are lovebirds, and after a series of cartoon-like chases, Jack, Dinkelpuss and our newfound lovers can escape the giant and climb down the beanstalk to earth ... and when the giant comes after them, they simply fell it and the giant crashes onto earth to his death ...

 

Oh boy, this film is really pathetic. 

It is a widely known fact that it is not a good idea to put an established comic duo into a fairy tale/musical kind of film (Laurel & Hardy had to learn this the hard way 18 years earlier with Babes in Toyland). Now of course, it's true that as a duo, Abbott and Costello were always just mediocre and beared no comparison to Laurel & Hardy or Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, but in their best films (early to mid 40's) they were always wor-th a chuckle or two.

This film however is from the early 1950's, and their brand of humour simply doesn't click anymore, made all the worse that they are in an incredibly childish adaptation of a children's tale, and don't even try to make the best of the film by inducing it with their own brand of humour. Instead they run through a series of tried-and-true but badly staged slapstick routines, and make the audience endure an even for this kind of film incredibly corny love story as well as a few bad, badly staged, badly sung and badly danced song-and-dance routines.

On top of that, one gets the feeling that the film doesn't even try to be any good. Example: The giant is really just a rather tall man, who is about as scary as ... well, a rather tall man. And the sets, mostly cheesy matte paintings, totally fail to convince.

...  and then there's of course Bud Abbott: Why was he in this film at all ? I mean, Lou Costello gives a pathetic version of giant killer Jack but at least he tries to carry the film. Abbott, the straight man to Costello's moron does nothing but standing around and is totally futile to the plot ... most of all because the story doesn't need a straight man and Abbott manages to make the least even out of that.

With better comedians and a better script, this film could have been mediocre, with Abbott and Costello ... unwatchable.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD