Jack and the Beanstalk (1956)

Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States  |  
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

This live, full-color musical version of Jack and the Beanstalk was one of NBC's most ambitious productions, costing $300,000 and utilizing 17 sets, all specially constructed at the network's vast Brooklyn studios. Though set in olden times, this version has a decidedly contemporary slant, with Jack depicted as a teenaged layabout who must redeem himself in the eyes of the community by doing "something big"--namely, climbing a beanstalk and conquering a giant. But from that point forward, the story doesn't quite adhere to formula: The so-called giant isn't nearly as fierce (or as big) as he's supposed to be, and there's a climactic surprise delivered by Jack's dyspeptic employer Mr. Poopledoop. Joel Grey, still ten years away from becoming an "overnight star" by virtue of the Broadway musical Cabaret, is cast as Jack, with Billy Gilbert as Poopledoop, Peggy King (then the vocalist on The George Gobel Show) as the Love Interest, Celeste Holm as a local looney, Cyril Ritchard ("Captain Hook" in the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan) as the bean peddler, and scrawny Arnold Stang as one "Mr. Fum." The lively but forgettable score by Jerry Livingston (Hello Dolly, Mame etc.) and Helen Deutsch includes"This is the One", "He Never Looks My Way", "Where Are the White Birds Flying?", "People Should Listen to Me", "Sweet World", "Twelve Feet Tall", "Looka Me", and "I'll Go Along With You".