Selasa, 26 April 2011
Nathan Juran - Jack the Giant Killer (1962)
Edward Small, an independent producer for United Artists, had been amongst the producers who had refused Ray Harryhausen backing; when Sinbad proved to be hugely successful, he set out to duplicate it - re-using that film's director and some of the actors (Torin Thatcher, Kerwin Matthews) - but neither Ray Harryhausen nor Bernard Herrmann - for Jack the Giant Killer. The incident-crammed plot emulated Sinbad, Cornish mythology and Darby O'Gill (1959) (not to mention Jean Cocteau) and included a giant, a dragon, an octopus, a Viking, a leprechaun and several witches as well as the requisite evil sorcerer, pure princess and valiant hero.
Obviously, it's not great art we are talking here, but for a formula-made junk movie, Jack the Giant Killer succeeds in one (rare) respect: it looks like everybody working on the movie had a good time (except, probably, for Anna Lee who was attacked by the raven she was required to act against), and the fun communicates to the audience. The effects, headed by Jim Danforth, are of variable quality, but rather good at their best and quite charming at their worst. Contrary to most effects movies of the time, the camera setups don't look as if they were dictated by the effects crew; they are plentiful and the film has an expansive look; it may well be Juran's best directorial work.
The film's perhaps most impressive feature is its art direction. United Artist set designer Edward Boyle had won a 1960 Oscar for The Apartment, while Fernando Carrere was responsible for films like On the Beach. Design and costumes are adequately outrageous, and the color styling is especially remarkable (probably director Juran, himself a former Academy Award-winning art director, had some hands in the film's design, too). Assorted witches were provided by Charles Gemora (The War of the Worlds, 1953, I Married A Monster From Outer Space and several gorillas).