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According to the October 1947 New Yorker review of this film, Sinclair Lewis "adapted" his short story "Bongo" from an unspecified work by Heinrich Heine. According to April and August 1941 Hollywood Reporter news items, Disney originally intended to produce "Bongo" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk" as separate, feature-length cartoons. The "Mickey Mouse feature" was called Legend of Happy Valley by a August 15, 1941 Daily Variety item. The Daily Variety item stated that Disney had signed Lee Sweetland, "a baritone for NBC," to do narration for the picture, but he did not contribute to the completed picture. A "behind-the scenes" documentary about the picture, which accompanied its 1997 video release, asserted that originally, the studio contemplated using some of the settings and supporting characters from its 1941 film Dumbo for the "Bongo" segment. The plan was dropped, however, and no characters from Dumbo appear in the completed picture. The documentary also reveals that when story development on "Mickey and the Beanstalk" began in May 1940, the inclusion of "J. Worthington Foulfellow" and "Gideon" from Pinocchio was considered, as well as the "casting" of "Minnie Mouse" as a queen who induces "Mickey" to trade his cow for the magic beans. The three characters do not appear in the completed segment, however.
A August 21, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that "union turmoil" was threatening to "tie up" production on the two features as well as a number of other planned projects. [For more information on the 1941 Screen Cartoon Guild strike at the Disney Studio, please see the entry below for The Reluctant Dragon.] Then, on May 15, 1942, Hollywood Reporter announced that the Disney Studio would halt production on all features for the duration of the war, during which it would produce only theatrical shorts and films for the U.S. government and military. A May 19, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that "Bongo" was specifically delayed by work on "The New Spirit," a short that was made for the Treasury Department.
Near the end of the war, production plans were resumed, and although May 1946 Hollywood Reporter news items still referred to Mickey and the Beanstalk as a full-length feature, the studio had decided to produce the subjects as shorts and join them in one feature-length film. Many modern sources have noted that, due to various economic factors caused by the war, the studio relied on "package features," comprised of a number of different shorts, in order to boost income. [For more information on the Disney "package features," please see the entry below for Make Mine Music.] A October 24, 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that narrator Dinah Shore would be appearing "before the camera" as well as offscreen, but in the finished film, she does not appear onscreen, except in a photograph on the cover of the "Bongo" record album.
According to modern sources, "Jiminy Cricket's" opening song, "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow," was originally recorded for the 1939 Disney feature Pinocchio but not used. Jiminy, who made his debut in Pinocchio, has not appeared in any other feature-length cartoons since Fun & Fancy Free, although he was the animated "host" of many Disney television programs. The picture also marked the feature debut of animated shorts star Goofy. Modern sources add James Macdonald (Voices of Lumpjaw and Mickey Mouse) to the cast, and note that the picture marked the first time that Macdonald supplied Mickey's voice. Walt Disney, who previously had provided Mickey's voice, did some work on the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment in 1941, but was too busy to complete the task and so hired Macdonald, who went on to play Mickey again numerous times. Contemporary publicity materials for the picture credit only Disney as Mickey's voice, however.
According to studio press materials, three record albums were to be made to publicize the picture. The first, telling the story of "Bongo," would feature narration by Shore, while the second record, on which Johnny Mercer was to supply the narration, told the tale of "Mickey and the Beanstalk." The third album was to be made up solely of the musical numbers. Contemporary news items note that the release of the film was also publicized with several "birthday parties" for Mickey Mouse, who was "celebrating" his twentieth anniversary. One party, held at the Disney Studio in Burbank, CA in mid-October 1947, was attended by Edgar Bergen's young daughter Candice, as well as other children of celebrities, who watched a screening of the film.
The "Bongo" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segments have been reissued as separate shorts, and in the 1960s, the scenes with Edgar Bergen were replaced by animation of "Ludwig Von Drake" for the television showing of the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. Although the full-length picture has not been theatrically re-released, as many of the other Disney pictures have been, it has been released on home video twice.
Among the many filmed versions of the "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy tale were two shorts made by Disney. The first, a silent, was made in 1922 by Disney's Laugh-O-gram company in Kansas City. The second, entitled "Giantland," starred Mickey Mouse as "Jack" and was released in 1933. Other presentations of the fairy tale, all entitled Jack and the Beanstalk, include the 1917 Fox Film Corp. live-action feature, directed by C. M. Franklin and S. A. Franklin and starring Francis Carpenter (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.2253); a 1952 Warner Bros. feature starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and directed by Jean Yarbrough; and an early 1980s, one-hour entry in Shelley Duvall's television series Faerie Tale Theater.