Jack And The Beanstalk: 4K Restoration [Spe. Ed.]
(Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Buddy Bear, Dorothy Ford, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / MVD Visual - VCI Video)
Overview: Available now in glorious color and in a new 4K restoration from an original 35mm archival print, these superb zanies have contemporized a universal fable.
Choosing as their adversary the most famous giant in all literature, Dink (Lou Costello) and Jack (Bud Abbott) declare their intention to rescue the princess and the hen which laid the golden egg.
They get captured and the fun really begin! Note: the film begins in sepia tone and then changes to color!
Plus, this brand new Blu-ray edition contains a bonus Abbott & Costello film - Africa Screams (1949), digitally restored in HD!
Blu-ray Verdict: Bud Abbott and Lou Costello always had a good following among children, but in their careers I think you could say that they only made one film that could be designated for kids. 'Jack and the Beanstalk' was that one film.
It was part of a two picture independent deal from Warner Brothers, the second film being 'Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.' Indeed, these were the only two films the boys made in color.
The two of them, out of work as usual, take a job for a very precocious and obnoxious young David Stollery as a babysitter. Although it starts out with Costello wanting to read the kid, Jack and the Beanstalk as a bedtime story, the young lad winds up reading it to Costello.
Lou falls asleep and in his dreams he fantasizes he's indeed Jack the Giant Killer.
Buddy Baer who menaced the boys in 'Africa Screams' (now also included on this wondrous new 4K restoration from an original 35mm archival print Blu-ray) plays the giant and he's got a giant size Dorothy Ford as his housekeeper!
Dorothy was a big girl, 6'2", and you can imagine she had some difficulty being cast except when her height was used as a joke.
One of the only players who ever looked down at her was John Wayne in Three Godfathers at 6'4". Henry Fonda and James Stewart in On Our Merry Way also stood barely above her, but again her height was part of an ongoing gag.
Shaye Cogan and James Alexander were the princess and prince of the fantasy and they sang beautifully, but couldn't act worth anything.
This was the last film of William Farnum who's career dated from the early silent screen days and even to the turn of the last century on stage. He played princess Shaye's father, The King.
Some not terribly memorable musical numbers came from 'Jack and the Beanstalk,' save the title song. I well always remember as a kid having the 78 record of Bud and Lou singing the song and reciting the story.
I was in my early single digit years, but became a lifelong fan of theirs through that and their television series. Anyway, in conclusion, 'Jack and the Beanstalk' is still a good children's picture for the very young, though I would warn parents to warn their little urchins not to imitate young master Stollery!
In the bonus feature, 'Africa Screams,' Bud and Lou are up to their necks in the jungle where peril is rife at every turn. It's standard fare for the boys this one, though some strong scenes induce the laughter that the viewers are looking for.
The plot is a sort of Tarzan Meets King Kong And King Solomon's Mines, with animals, cannibals and diamonds a go-go! The usual rules apply re: Lou is constantly under threat and offering up cowardly reactions, while Bud is calm and manages to avoid the tricky situations.
As a formula it works to an extent, but as always with Abbott and Costello movies, it's best not to watch too many in one sitting due to the repetitive nature of their material. Joining the lads for this one is Clyde Beatty, Frank Buck, Max Baer, Buddy Baer and Hillary Brooke. These are both Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:
'Africa Screams' - Full-Length Abbott & Costello (1949) Comedy Feature Film!
Original Theatrical Trailer
Amazon Purchase Link