Sunday Matinee: Jack The Giant Killer

In 1958 Ray Harryhausen helped make The 7th Voyage of Sinbad which became a big hit with audiences. A rival film producer named Edward Small decided that he wanted to cash in on The 7th Voyage of Sinbad‘s success. He made Jack the Giant Killer which got released in 1962.

Small hired director Nathan Juran who directed The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and along with Sinbad actors Kerwin Mathews who played Sinbad and now plays the hero Jack and Torin Thatcher who played an evil wizard in Sinbad and in Jack plays an evil wizard called Pendragon.

Small wanted effects like Ray Harryhausen but didn’t get Harryhausen. Instead he brought in Howard A. Anderson who subcontracted the effects to a company called Project Unlimited. Project Unlimited was responsible for the effects from The Time Machine.

Wah Chang did the sculptures for the monsters which looked a lot like the character designs off from Harryhausen’s work. The giant in Jack the Giant Killer looks an awful lot like the cyclops in Sinbad but poorly done. Jim Danforth was brought in to animate the creatures.

Jack the Giant Killer is about an evil wizard named Pendragon who attacks the kingdom of Cornwall. A wizard defeats Pendragon and exiles him to an unknown island. The king of Cornwall years later has a daughter named Princess Elaine (Judi Meredith). Pendragon tries to kidnap her by using a giant. Jack comes along and saves the princess and defeats the giant. Pendragon tries again when Jack is escorting the princess across the sea in a boat. The boat is attacked by witches who make off with the princess. Jack and a young boy are thrown overboard by the crew when they try to chase after the princess (the crew is too scared to follow). Jack and the boy soon met up with a viking and a leprechaun in a bottle and they go and try to rescue the princess while fighting more witches, two-head giants and dragons.

The film got a limited release in 1962 but it was pulled from American theatres when Columbia pictures (the company behind Sinbad) threatened to sue United Artist and Small for copyright infringement. Small re-edited the movie and turned it into a musical and that version was released on TV several years later. Kino is releasing the movie on Blu-ray this week with both versions of the film. It’s a fun film – it’s no The 7th Voyage of Sinbad but it’s still fun.

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