Jack the Giant Killer is a movie made in 1962 as an adaptation of an Arthurian legend of the same name. The plot centers on Jack, a farm boy played by Kerwin Matthews, who sets out upon a quest to save a princess captured by Pendragon, a powerful warlock. Along the way, he battles giants and mythical monsters. His journey includes a sea voyage where the Witches of the Wind threaten to destroy his ship. Jack shows swashbuckling skills as he swings on ropes and fights with swords.
The sea journey leads to a forbidding castle on an isolated island where Pendragon resides with the captured princess and his coven of witches. Unbeknownst to Jack, the princess herself has been turned into a witch. With the help of Sigurd the Viking, a cabin boy named Peter, and a magical leprechaun trapped in a bottle, Jack invades the castle, purges the corruption from the princess, and rescues her from Pendragon's evil clutches.
The film uses stop-motion animation to bring its monsters and mythical creatures to life. Efforts are made to integrate these stop motion effects with the live action footage involving the actors. Jack stabs a stop-motion creature with a sword, a stop-motion giant grabs a peasant and tosses him around, and a dancing doll entertains a princess and her royal court. The magic spells are visualized as colored bands of energy. These effects show how Hollywood used to create myths and legends before the days of the computer.
Many of the filmmakers of Jack the Giant Killer are the same that created a successful film called The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. This film was also a fantasy adventure featuring lots of stop-motion animation. The stop-motion animation technique was pioneered and championed by the great Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen did the stop motion for The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, but not for Jack the Giant Killer. His influences upon the film, however, are undeniable.