Jack and the Beanstalk (1952)


USA. 1952.


Director – Jean Yarbrough, Screenplay – Nat Curtis, Story – Pat Costello, Producer – Alex Gottlieb, Photography (colour + b&w) – George Robinson, Music – Heinz Roemheld, Special Effects – Earl Lee, Art Direction – McClure Capps. Production Company – Warner Bros


Lou Costello (Jack Strong), Bud Abbott (Mr Dinklepuss), Shaye Coogan (Princess Eloise), James Alexander (Prince Arthur), Dorothy Ford (Polly), Buddy Baer (Patrick)


Two unemployed idiots take a job babysitting a mischief-making boy. In an attempt to pacify him, they read him the story of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. In the story, the idiot farmboy Jack is told by his mother to take the family cow into the village to sell it. There Jack is tricked by the butcher Dinklepuss into swapping the cow for some supposedly magic beans. When planted, the beans grow into a giant stalk stretching up into the clouds. Climbing the beanstalk, Jack and Dinklepuss arrive at the castle of the giant that is terrorising the region, only to be captured. Along with an imprisoned prince and princess, who have both fallen in love thinking the other one is a commoner, they attempt to escape and defeat the giant.

Jack and the Beanstalk was one of 43 comedy films that Abbott and Costello’s made between 1940 and 1956. (See below for their other genre entries). It was their first venture into colour and the only one in which they sing. It is also one of the most boring of their films.

Most of the Abbott and Costello films are lowbrow comedic knocks but Jack and the Beanstalk tries to tie this into a run through of the popular fairytale. The musical interludes and runnings about the castle seem to go on forever – one can safely go to sleep and wake up some time later not having missed any significant plot development. The gags remain the usual idiocy, although there is one moderately amusing sequence with Lou and Dorothy Ford dancing wherein they proceed to demolish one another with their mutual clumsiness. The film is shot, like The Wizard of Oz (1939), in black-and-white, opening out into colour for the fantasy scenes – unfortunately, the budget is such that the colour only serves to highlight the tattiness of the sets. As the prince, James Alexander walks through the film with a frozen expression as though he would rather be elsewhere. Undoubtedly like the audience.

Abbott and Costello’s other films of genre note are:– Hold That Ghost (1941), The Time of Their Lives (1946), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Comin’ Round the Mountain (1951), Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), Abbott and Costello Meet Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1953) and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955). Lou Costello mde one solo effort with The 30-Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959).

Full film available online here:-

Actors: , , , , ,
Themes: , , ,