ANIMATION SPIN
October 15, 2013 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Hanna Barbera’s “Jack And The Beanstalk” (1967)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is the first in a new series of weekly articles by Greg Ehrbar that will examine classic record albums and recordings based on animated series, specials, features and well-known characters. Greg’s expertise in this area is unmatched – and his archives are quite deep. I look forward to discovering many great tunes and reading Greg’s insights here in the weeks to come. - Jerry Beck

Jack_beanstalk_album

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK STARRING GENE KELLY
Original TV Sound Track from the Hanna-Barbera TV Special
Hanna-Barbera Records HLP-8511 (Mono/1967) / HST-9511 (Stereo/1967)
51 West (Columbia) Records Q-16101 (Mono Only/1980 Reissue)
HBR A&R Supervision: Tom Ayres. TV Special Producer/Director: Gene Kelly. Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Music: James Van Heusen. Lyrics: Sammy Cahn. Arranged and Conducted by Lennie Hayton. Teleplay: Larry Markes, Michael Morris. Editor: Tony Milch. Cover Art: Mo Gollub, Paul Julian. Typographic Design: Robert Schaefer.

Voices: Gene Kelly (Narrator, Jeremy Keen); Bobby Riha (Jack), Janet Waldo (Princess Serena speaking voice, Jack’s Mother); Marni Nixon (Princess Serena singing voice); Dick Beals (Jack singing voice); Ted Cassidy (The Giant); Chris Allen (Mouse); Leo DeLyon and Cliff Norton (Woggle Birds).

Songs: “Half Past April and A Quarter to May,” “A Tiny Bit of Faith,” “One Starry Moment,” “It’s Been Nice,” “The Woggle Bird Song,” “Stiffen Up Your Upper Lip,” “One Starry Moment (Reprise)”.


jack_bean-tvguide

Airing Sunday night, February 26, 1967 on NBC, Jack and the Beanstalk was Hanna-Barbera’s first live-action/animated TV special. It was also one of the last in the catalog of the much sought after Hanna-Barbera Records (collector’s note: it is not part of the “Cartoon Series,” but instead, like HBR’s Swingin’ Summer sound track, it was not necessarily marketed as a children’s record. It’s historic importance – being the work of Gene Kelly, Lennie Hayton, Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen – merits a CD reissue, but we can only keep hoping at this point.

The special itself won an Emmy Award but was a troubled production (some dodgy process work displeased Gene Kelly). However, no expense was spared to mount the outstanding score by Cahn and Van Heusen (“Swinging On a Star,” “All the Way” and other hits for Frank Sinatra and more). The musical direction by Kelly’s longtime MGM collaborator Hayton is just as lavish as any big screen Hollywood musical of the golden days.

Another positive note is that writers Larry Markes and Michael Morris (The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Flying Nun) nicely fleshed out the simple fairy tale with a romantic twist as well as an army of mice (which made for a high-kicking chorus line).

Dick Beals told me that Hanna and Barbera originally planned to use Bobby Riha’s voice for the songs. Dissatisfied with the results, Beals was asked to loop the singing after the film was shot. With H-B permission, Beals announced his performance in a Variety ad. Mrs. Riha was livid, as she wanted to market her son as an all-around talent. The following year, Bobby Riha’s actual voice was heard on some songs in Disney’s The One & Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, but he was essentially talking or singing in a group in that musical film.

The Jack and the Beanstalk sound track album has a beautifully designed gatefold that opens up to 12” x 24” cover art (the front cover also appeared on the VHS release). The cover notes incorrectly list a song called “I Sure Hate Love,” which apparently was to be sung by Jack instead of Jeremy and Serena’s reprise of “One Starry Moment.” The song does not appear in the special or on the record. It was likely deleted too late for the album cover to be revised.
Two selections from the Hanna-Barbera music library are also on the record, heard as the giant chases Jack and Jeremy down the beanstalk. My guess is that it is from Ted Nichols’ score for 1966’s The Man Called Flintstone. Interestingly, it’s in stereo, which means some of the library music we heard for years in Hanna-Barbera cartoons in mono was actually recorded, but not presented, in stereo.

The stereo LP sounds magnificent, even though it seems to have been recorded without positioning the orchestra to take advantage of two channels. Rather, it sounds spread out in the center, certainly superior to the mono version, which unfortunately was the master used for the lower-fidelity 51 West (Columbia) Records reissue.

NOTE TO WARNER ARCHIVE: Please please please please please release Jack and the Beanstalk on DVD. I’ll even send you a big tin of tasty cookies, made from scratch.

jack-still



GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“The Woggle Bird Song”
If you’re familiar with the finished special, the dance arrangement of this tango contains a flamenco section—but on the record album, the same section is instead a groovy ‘60s go-go beat. Perhaps the flamenco was considered less likely to become dated and of course, it is. Kelly sings with Cliff Norton (Bewitched, Where’s Huddles) and Leo DeLyon (Top Cat, The Jungle Book).

34 Comments

  • Another vote for a Warner Archive release, maybe paired with “What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in the Place Like This?” Heck, if there’s market for “Heidi’s Song” . . .

    I always figured this as the direct ancestor of “The New Adventures of Huck Finn,” a slightly less lavish application of the same basic idea. Always wondered whether it was ratings or budgets that killed it.

    • I second the vote for H-B’s Alice for DVD

  • Interesting story! I had forgotten all about this special — I was a sophomore in high school when it was televised. I wonder whatever happened to Bobby Riho?

    That page section from TV Guide sure brings back memories — and reminds me of how thorough TV Guide used to be back in the day when network television had almost no competition. Times (and the magazine) have certainly changed . . .

    • I was born 7/25/1968, so I didn’t exist when H/B’s “JATB” was originally televised. Many years ago, I read somewhere that Bobby Riha had become a photographer going by the name “BOB RIHA, JR.”.

    • “I was born 7/25/1968, so I didn’t exist when H/B’s “JATB” was originally televised. Many years ago, I read somewhere that Bobby Riha had become a photographer going by the name “BOB RIHA, JR.”.”

      Oh well, at least he found a fallback plan. :-)

      I wasn’t born when this first aired myself, but catch it a few times in the 80′s courtesy of The Disney Channel which use to pick up a few odd H-B specials/movies to air back then.

  • I, too, wish they would release this on DVD. Of course, as long as I’m wishing I might as well that they could go back to the original film elements and re-do it from them. WIth today’s technical capabilities, those pesky garbage mattes and the occasional harness and cable could be gotten rid of.

    Does anyone know where they shot the live action for this, and where the music was recorded. I thought maybe they did the music on the MGM scoring stage.

    • “I, too, wish they would release this on DVD. Of course, as long as I’m wishing I might as well that they could go back to the original film elements and re-do it from them. WIth today’s technical capabilities, those pesky garbage mattes and the occasional harness and cable could be gotten rid of.”

      Yeah it was always noticeable to see the platforms those guys were standing on. The matting often left a lot of odd dark shaded parts of the set that could be removed digitally if the original elements are left to work with if someone wanted to set this one right.

  • I would LOVE to see this reissued on DVD, and the soundtrack made available for CD/download. It is one of my all-time favorites from my childhood! Unfortunately the VHS copy we had was completely worn out…

  • This is one of the all-time great specials from Hanna-Barbera. A year or so earlier, they did “Alice in Wonderland,” another one that I consider a top-notch production. Both of these would make great DVD releases, especially paired together in one set!

    A note on the “Woggle Bird” song–on the DVD release of the film “Journey Back to Oz” it’s explained that this song originally was written for the Woggle-Bug character from the Oz books, but when the character was dropped from the film, the song was also dropped from that score. It was eventually reworked for the “Woggle-Birds” in the Jack and the Beanstalk special. The song itself bears a strong resemblance to a jingle titled “What Did the Woggle-Bug Say?” which was used to promote the Oz characters around 1903, and which had lyrics written by L. Frank Baum.

    Ever since I learned of this record album’s existence a few years ago, I have been burning with curiosity about it. I love the HBR records, which had production values superior to any comparable records produced at the time–music cues and underscoring, top-notch character voice actors, witty, clever scripts containing humor for adults as well as for children, and music that was very contemporary for its day. This is very helpful information–I would love to see a CD re-release of these audio treasures.

    • I NEVER knew that about the Woggle Birds/Bus, Frederick! I’ll have to feature the Journey Back to Oz albums on a future post.

  • You have certainly brought back that magical and special Sunday nite back to me today!!! I thought it was magnificent, thru and thru. I was always disappointed that it never was repeated (or, rather, repeated “often enough!”)

    • I believe NBC ran it one more time, then it was rerun in syndication in the late ’70s (sponsored by Burger Chef) and even appeared on the Disney Channel. Since Boomerang runs H-B’s “Alice’ once in a while, perhaps they’ve shown “Jack” too and maybe they run it again. I’m not sure if TCM ever ran it, but I posted a link to this story on TCM’s site and Facebook page as a not-so-subtle hint.

    • “I believe NBC ran it one more time, then it was rerun in syndication in the late ’70s (sponsored by Burger Chef) and even appeared on the Disney Channel. Since Boomerang runs H-B’s “Alice’ once in a while, perhaps they’ve shown “Jack” too and maybe they run it again. I’m not sure if TCM ever ran it, but I posted a link to this story on TCM’s site and Facebook page as a not-so-subtle hint.”

      I was lucky to see it on Disney Channel in the 80′s. I guess it seems kinda weird looking back on it today thinking how could anything from H-B end up on that channel but it had.

  • NOTE TO WARNER ARCHIVE: Please put “Alice in Wonderland (or What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?) (1966)” & “Jack And The Beanstalk (1967)” on Blu-Ray in addition to DVD!

    I know “Heidi’s Song (1982)” was already on DVD, but it will be great to put this movie on Blu-Ray as well!

    • They did a nice job on Heidi’s Song, too, because they took the trouble to remaster it in stereo. The sound track album had the story/dialogue format so the songs were edited or deleted and the VHS was in mono. So the Warner Archive DVD really does justice to the score by Burton Lane (Finian’s Rainbow) and Sammy Cahn (Jack and the Beanstalk), as well as the underscore by Hoyt Curtin.

    • “They did a nice job on Heidi’s Song, too, because they took the trouble to remaster it in stereo. The sound track album had the story/dialogue format so the songs were edited or deleted and the VHS was in mono. So the Warner Archive DVD really does justice to the score by Burton Lane (Finian’s Rainbow) and Sammy Cahn (Jack and the Beanstalk), as well as the underscore by Hoyt Curtin.”

      The movie was presented in Dolby Stereo remembering that logo at the end if the film, so I assume it had a stereo track in the theaters anyway. Nice if they went out of their way on that DVD release and did it right.

  • Years ago, I had looked for the HB Alice In Wonderland to be run on Boomerang, but it was always a different version that ended up airing..To this day, I don’t know if the HB Alice ever actually ran on Boomerang..

  • The giant on the cover looks like the giant from WB’s “Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk”.

  • When I interviewed Gene Kelly about his career a few years prior to his death, he was dismissive of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” complaining of poor production values and a rushed shooting schedule. His complaints seemed rather harsh, but when you consider that he worked for MGM for so many years and had become accustomed to having everything top-of-the-line, it’s perhaps understandable that the limitations of a TV production would have been problematic for him .

    • Kelly was a perfectionist and a cinematic genius, thus it could not have been easy for him to accept the hard facts about TV’s limits, especially when he made his name at MGM, the grandest of the Hollywood studios in its day. But this was fifteen years after Singin’ in the Rain, and entertainment (and how the public consumed it) was undergoing a rapid transformation, just as it is now.

      The special isn’t perfect, but it sure is entertaining and memorable. You can do practically anything with today’s technology, yet I wonder whether the results are always so enchanting.

      Kelly did introduce scenes from Jack and the Beanstalk on the “Yabba Dabba Doo” H-B retrospective about a decade later. Imagine how much better the special looked to him from the perspective of the ’70s! (Funny aside: it seemed to us at home that Kelly pronounced Yogi’s sidekick “Voo-Voo.” To this day, I can’t say it any other way!

  • I remember the Hanna-Barbera Jack In The Beanstalk very well. The Woggle Birds were animated by Ed Love, who could turn out reasonably well-animated material on H-B’s time schedule. Most of the other animators on the special were very hampered by the H-B cheapness. A lot of the animation in the show just didn’t have enough scale or weight to make the Giant look like a Giant. The layouts were pretty conservative as well, not many harder to animate upshots or downshots, which would have established scale. The opticals on the combination shots were not very well done, and I can understand why Gene Kelly wasn’t happy with the outcome. An INVITATION TO THE DANCE or ANCHORS AWEIGH it wasn’t.

  • Now that I think about it, maybe it was Cloris Leachman who presented Jack and the Beanstalk scenes on the “Yabba Dabba Doo: The Happy World of Hanna-Barbera” special.

    But it still sounded like Gene Kelly said “Voo-Voo.”

  • I remember this,too…interesting to see actors usual,ly associated with only ONE HB production (in this case, Chris Allen of Space Kiddettes but known for Jay Ward’s title frog Hoppity;, both already on the air even then;, Cliff Norton of the LATER Hanna-Barbera prime time 1970 show “Where’s Huddles”, again as the title character, and Leo De Lyon as the earlier “Top Cat” side characters: the hepcat (pun) Spook and the (now rather politically incorrect but still funny “Frank Fontaine/Crazy Guggheim” clod) “Brain”, NOT to be confused with that “Animaniacs” mouse!).

  • I’ve also suspected the Hanna-Barbera scores were recorded in stereo, but only presented in monophonic sound.

    I believe the Jetsons end credits music, as it appears on the Rhino CD box set “Hanna-Barbera Pic-a-Nic Basket Cartoon Classics” (released July 1996), is in stereo. This is the same recording used for the memorable AOL “The Future Now Available” TV commercials which were running in 1996.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpKb7F7kQnI

    “Brian Sampson” on YouTube has made some pretty stunning, convincing stereo mixes of old cartoon theme music:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/MrStereo10/videos

    I often wonder where the hundreds of hours of Hoyt Curtin reel-to-reel tapes are languishing…

  • “I was lucky to see it on Disney Channel in the 80′s. I guess it seems kinda weird looking back on it today thinking how could anything from H-B end up on that channel but it had.”

    Believe it or not, Chris, there was a time in the ’90s when “The Man Called Flintstone” was one of Disney Channel’s highest rated broadcasts.

    • Doesn’t surprise me if it was. Remember seeing that movie listed in their magazine a lot when they had one (loved the moment it reached the mail to dig into it).

    • Yeah, I remember Disney Channel showing this special as well as “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear”.

    • Sometimes it could be something pretty odd or forgettable like “The Adventures of Robin Hoodnik”.

  • Don’t remember this at all and it would have been right up my 12-year-old alley at the time. Wish I could see the rest of that TV Guide page to see what was on against it that we were probably watching.

  • In my dreamy little dream world, WB finds all the separated elements, restores and upgrades them, and reassembles them into a state-o-the-art presentation…

    • In a dreamy world, they would’ve done it five years earlier. :-P

  • Great article Greg!! Having that special on DVD would be a great addition to anyone’s collectin. From what I have heard about those homemade cookies, that would definitely get WB to release it!!

  • Jerry Beck once said on “Stu’s Show” that there are showstopping music licensing issues with “The New Alice in Wonderland”. Would that apply to “Jack and the Beanstalk” as well?

  • I was introduced to this delightful film by Bobby Riha himself. A mutual friend and I showed up at his house sometime in the early 70s. We begged and pleaded until he finally pulled out a projector and his own 16-mm print of the film, and watched it there in Bobby’s bedroom. Imperfect though the production may have been, I was impressed with the superlative score from Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, a solid book, and charming performances from the voice and live actors. Years later, I stumbled on the above soundtrack recording in audio cassette format in some bargain bin. Add my vote for a CD reissue and DVD distribution. Thanks for the info!

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