Jack the Giant Killer
©1961 Zenith Pictures Inc.


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Genre: Fantasy

Rating: G

Synopsis:
A foreign prince (Torin Thatcher) arrives at the birthday of Princess Elaine (Judi Meredith), bearing a music box with a small jester inside. Unfortunately, the prince is really the evil wizard Pendragon and the music box is a trap. That night, the tiny jester grows into a mighty giant and carries the princess away. Luckily, a simple farmer named Jack (Kerwin Mathews) is able to kill the giant and rescue the princess. Knighted by King Marc (Dayton Lummis), Jack is assigned to transport Elaine to safety but they are betrayed by Lady Constance (Anna Lee), who is under Pendragon's spell. Pendragon sends witches to kidnap Elaine from the ship they're on and when Jack orders the crew to follow the witches, Jack and a young boy named Peter (Roger Mobley) are thrown overboard. Meanwhile, Pendragon transforms Elaine into an evil witch and orders King Marc to abdicate his throne if he wants to see his daughter alive again. Fortunately, a Viking named Sigurd (Barry Kelley) pulls Jack and Peter from the sea and they set out to rescue Elaine with the aid of a Leprechaun imprisoned in a bottle (Don Beddoe). Using the Leprechaun's magic, Jack penetrates Pendragon's castle and frees Elaine but she is still under Pendragon's control and her rescue is a ploy to learn the source of Jack's newfound magic power. Back at the boat, Elaine drugs Jack and tries to steal the bottle with the Leprechaun in it but the bottle has a spell that protects it from evil and it's knocked overboard. Believing that Jack still knows where the Leprechaun is, Pendragon transforms Sigurd into a dog and Peter into a chimpanzee while threatening to transform Elaine if Jack doesn't reveal the imp's whereabouts. Still pretending to be good, Elaine pleads with Jack to tell Pendragon what he wants to know but Jack finally discovers that she is bewitched. Luckily, even as animals, Peter and Sigurd are able to free Jack and he breaks Pendragon's hold on Elaine. When the four flee Pendragon's castle, he sends a two-headed monster to stop them but they find the Leprechaun's bottle washed up on the beach and he summons a sea serpent to save them. Frustrated, Pendragon changes into a dragon and attacks the group himself but Jack kills him. With Pendragon dead, Sigurd and Peter return to normal. Jack frees the Leprechaun from his bottle in return for helping them and he and Elaine live happily ever after.

Type of mind control: Magic

Mind control scenes:
There is an early mind control scene when Jack and Elaine are betrayed by Lady Constance, who has been 'bewitched' by Pendragon, but we don't learn that Lady Constance is under Pendragon's spell until later and she appears to be acting of her own accord, so it's not obvious that this scene involves mind control. The obvious mind control begins about half way through the movie when Pendragon uses the Orb of Egypt to 'bewitch' Elaine and make her evil. Elaine remains under Pendragon's spell, trying to find the source of Jack's magic, until almost the end of the movie.

Subjective Rating: 4 out of 5
Although the mind control doesn't really start until the second half of the movie, when it does start, it is very well done. Judi Meredith does an excellent job of portraying both the sweet and innocent Princess Elaine and the evil 'bewitched' Princess Elaine. The scene with Elaine smiling gleefully as Sigurd and Peter are transformed into animals magnificently demonstrates her evil disposition without being too blatant or over-the-top. My only problem with this movie is that it blurs the line between mind control and transformation. When Elaine is 'bewitched' by Pendragon, she appears to be physically transformed into an actual witch, even though the orb is supposedly only corrupting her soul and the corruption should only be visible in a mirror. Then, a short time later, Elaine appears normal again except for the fact that she is acting evil. It makes it impossible to tell whether Elaine was actually transformed into a witch and is using magic to appear normal or if her appearance never really changed and her apparent transformation was merely used to demonstrate her change in attitude. If it's the latter, they could have skipped the transformation and let Judi Meredith's acting ability demonstrate to the viewer that she wasn't sweet and innocent anymore. In my opinion, it would have been much more effective.

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