The release of the new film Jack the Giant Slayer, Bryan Singer’s epic retelling of the old Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale, offers a reminder that beans (usually, non-magical ones) have been at the center of many of history’s most memorable movies. Sometimes, it’s just in a quotable line of dialogue – think Rick getting Ilsa to leave with Victor in Casablanca by telling her that ” the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world,” or Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs offering the helpful catering tip that human liver is best served “with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
Sometimes, however, it’s more than that, as with the bean farming that’s essential to the plots of East of Eden and Out of Africa. There’s the comic potential of beans, as depicted most indelibly in Blazing Saddles. Finally, there’s the word “bean” itself, which has been the name of a number of great movie characters, not to mention movie actors. (Being John Malkovich is unthinkable without the contribution of Orson Bean as the dotty boss.) So let’s give the humble legume its moment in the limelight.
Next Mr. Bean