I'm always taken aback when someone asks me to name a "guilty pleasure" movie; what's to feel guilty about, enjoying any movie? (Well, okay, I once met a lady who said her all-time favorite film was So I Married an Axe Murderer, so maybe there is something to the question.)
Which brings me to a fairy tale movie I loved as a kid and love still, despite its shortcomings: Jack and the Beanstalk. Abbott & Costello climb a beanstalk and battle a ferocious giant amidst songs, dancing, and the glories of SuperCineColor in this 1952 release.
There is no reason I can think of that a silly kid's movie with romantic leads that will make you go out in the lobby and smoke your first-ever cigarette when they sing some of the worst love songs ever written for a movie, an Abbott & Costello picture with no classic A&C routines, and a fantasy that aims to be, of all things, The Wizard of Oz should be so beloved by me, but it has been since I was a tot and every time I've seen it since. (One of my earliest childhood memories is watching this on TV and being disappointed that the "mean guy with the mustache" goes up the beanstalk with lovable Jack.) The film has Lou Costello at his best, easily the finest showcase for what could make him so appealing, that little-boy quality with the funny mannerisms (he skips a lot). His solo song "I Fear Nothing" is a gem, too. Buddy Baer (Max's brother) is the giant and a cop - all of the main characters appear in the "real world" in the film's opening sepiatone sequence, before we switch to glorious SuperCineColor.
Our story: Costello's a babysitter who falls asleep when his charge reads him a fairytale and dreams he's Jack, trading mom's cow to a shyster butcher for five magic beans, which mom has him plant. One beanstalk later, off Jack and Mr. Dinklepuss the butcher go, to battle the giant, rescue the kidnapped Prince and Princess (ewww) and retrieve the hen that lays golden eggs. It all ends surprisingly well.
Mom: "When are you going to grow up and get some sense?"
Jack: "Does one go with the other?"
Because the film was (erroneously?) reported to be in the Public Domain for many years, it has been readily available since the early VHS/Betamax days, and I've purchased more copies of this film trying to find the best one than any other movie except Max Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels. So, I'm delighted to report that ClassicFlix will this summer be truly releasing the ultimate edition of this remarkable film, a gorgeously restored 70th anniversary version, on Blu-ray and DVD, packed with extras.
More information and ordering opportunities can be found on the ClassicFlix website. We urge you to order - it's a limited edition and will surely sell out. It's my most anticipated release of the year so far, and remember: Fear nothing when you're in the right!