Jack and the Beanstalk (1974)
Jack and the Beanstalk (ジャックと豆の木 Jakku to Mame no Ki) is a 1974 Japanese animated feature film produced by Group TAC and Nippon Herald Films and directed by Gisaburō Sugii. Styled after classical Western animation, it is a musical fantasy based on the fairy tale of the same name with the screenplay by Shūji Hirami, music organization by Yū Aku and songs and score composed and arranged by Takashi Miki with Shun’ichi Tokura and Tadao Inōe. It was released in Japan on July 20, 1974 and in the United States by Columbia Pictures in 1976.
Running time 96 minutes
Jack resides with his mother in a small house out in the country. Being very poor, they eventually find themselves forced to sell their cow, which has stopped giving milk. Jack runs into a mysterious man on the way into town and trades the cow for a handful of “magic” beans. Jack’s mother becomes angry at him and spanks him with a broom before throwing the beans out the window.
As Jack sleeps, the beanstalk grows, much to the astonishment of Jack’s dog, Crosby. Crosby is even more surprised to see a mouse in a dress descending the beanstalk. Jack awakens and is also amazed at the sight of the beanstalk. The mouse convinces Jack and Crosby to accompany her up the beanstalk.
Upon arriving at the top, the trio find themselves in the courtyard of a castle, where they find a girl who appears to be in a trance looking at them. The girl, Margaret, is the princess of the castle. Her mother and father have disappeared, but she claims to be happy since she will soon be marrying her beloved prince, Tulip, who is actually a giant. Margaret introduces Jack to Tulip’s mother, Madame Hecuba, who herself is actually an evil witch that has put the princess under a spell. The witch aspires to become queen of the Land of the Clouds when Tulip and Margaret are married.
Madame Hecuba takes Jack to an upstairs dining hall, where she feeds him some soup intended to put him to sleep. She has to hide him quickly when Tulip, who is not very bright, arrives upstairs. As he is eating, Tulip smells Jack’s presence. Jack manages to escape, much to the chagrin of Hecuba, who orders Tulip to find him and promises to share Jack with him.
In the meantime, Jack meets more clothed mice as well as a talking harp. The harp initially starts calling for the giant, but is quick to cooperate when the mice and Jack persuade her that it would be in her best interest. She reveals that Madame Hecuba got rid of the king and queen and turned the people of the castle into mice. Tulip comes into the treasure room and Jack witnesses a golden hen lay a golden egg. The harp also reveals that the witch’s spell must be renewed daily.
Jack decides to grab the hen and as much treasure as he can carry and make his way back down the beanstalk. In the process, he tricks Tulip into thinking he fell to his doom. Jack and his mother celebrate their new-found fortune until Crosby persuades Jack that he should stop the princess from marrying the giant.
With fresh determination to help the princess, Jack ascends the beanstalk a second time. He learns from the harp that the spell over the princess can be broken with a kiss from someone who is truly brave. Jack crashes the mock wedding and gives Margaret a kiss. The witch and the giant are both angered when Margaret returns to normal and recognizes them for who they are. A chase ensues, and Jack eventually faces Madame Hecuba again. Tulip enters the room and prepares to step on Jack when, at the last moment, he turns on his mother and steps on her instead.
With the witch destroyed, the mice turn back into people and the castle starts to return to normal. The giant is still around, however, and chases Jack and Crosby. The two eventually climb down the beanstalk with Tulip in hot pursuit, and cut the beanstalk down upon reaching the bottom, causing Tulip to fall to his death. Jack and Crosby look up to the clouds, thinking about Margaret.
Jack (ジャック Jakku)
Animated by: Shigeru Yamamoto
Voiced by: Masachika Ichimura (Japanese); Billie Lou Watt (English)
Margaret (マーガレット Māgaretto)
Animated by: Tsuneo Maeda
Voiced by: Linda Yamamoto (Japanese); Corinne Orr (English)
Voiced by: Kō Nishimura
Prince Tulip the giant (巨人 – チューリップ Kyojin (Chūrippu))
Animated by: Teruhito Ueguchi
Voiced by: Hiroshi Mizushima (Japanese); Jack Grimes (English)
Madam Noir (ノワール夫人 Nowāru-fujin), or Madame Hecuba in the English dub
Animated by: Kazuko Nakamura
Voiced by: Kirin Kiki (Japanese); Billie Lou Watt (English)
Crosby (グロスビー Gurosubī)
Animated by: Takateru Miwa
Voiced by: Kazuo Kamimura (Japanese); Jack Grimes (English)
Harp (たて琴 Tategoto)
Animated by: Kanji Akahori
Voiced by: Nobue Ichitani (Japanese); Billie Lou Watt (English)
Voiced by: Miyoko Asō (Japanese); Billie Lou Watt (English)
Paper priest (紙の司祭 Kami no shisai)
Voiced by: Takeshi Kusaka
Voiced by: Tonpei Hidari
Animated by: Toshio Hirata
The mice (ねずみたち Nezumi-tachi)
Animated by: Toshio Hirata
The beanstalk (豆の木 Mame no ki)
Animated by: Kanji Akahori
It is the first feature directed by Sugii or animated by Group TAC and the second film under that arrangement, following as it did the just previously produced half-hour educational film The History of Mutual Aid: The Story of Life Insurance.
As of July 2011, a transfer of the film by Atlas International is available on DVD-Video, with both the English and Japanese audio but only subtitles, from Hen’s Tooth Video UPC 759731409421.
ミュージカル・ファンタジィ”ジャックと豆の木” was released in Japan in July 1974. Catalog# AQ-4001.
Title ・ Mouth (left)
Morning song (jack and bean tree, original cast)
Alive to go (A ・ Timsu)
Bean seller song
Miracle Song (Yamamoto Linda)
Completely happy (Yamamoto Linda)
I know everything (Ichitani Shine)
Don’t eat it (Ichitani Shine)
Chew’s Scat (A ・ Tyms + Jack and the bean tree ・ original cast)
It is hard to see you (Chiho Kashiwagi (= tree rare forest))
Thank you (Michimura Ichimochi)
This is the way of success (Uemura Kazuo)
This is the way of a man (Kazuo Uemura)
A dream for a long time (Chiho Ogi)
Do you love (Takeshi Kusaka)
Come back to me (A. Timpus)
Giants here (Michimura Ichimura)
Goodbye Jack (Yamamoto Linda + Jack and bean tree ・ original cast)
Song of the expulsion (left Tonhira)
The English-dubbed version received mixed opinions from U.S. critics. Henry Herx wrote in his Family Guide to Movies on Video: “Its songs are insipid and the animation rather primitive[;] still it moves along at a lively enough pace and may amuse younger children.” Richard Eder of The New York Times remarked: “The lines are blurry, the colors muddy, and the action is blocklike. When the characters’ lips move up and down, the words come out sideways.” He ended his short review with this comment: “It is the kind of thing grandfathers are sent out to send their grandchildren to. They will sit silently, side by side, and a quiet loathing will come up between them.” In 2010, Michael R. Pitts said that the songs are “forgettable”. Conversely, the writers of Jerry Beck’s Animated Movie Guide hailed it as “A successful Japanese emulation of American fairy tale theatrical cartoon features with many delightful songs”, and gave it four stars.