The opening scene of the movie describes it best: "Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales."
At the turn of the century, Duke and Chester, two vaudeville performers, go to Alaska to make their fortune. On the ship to Skagway, they find a map to a secret gold mine, which had been ... See full summary »
The throne of rightful king of England, the small babe with the purple pimpernel birthmark, has been usurped by the evil King Roderick. Only the Black Fox can restore the true king to the throne--and all he needs is the king's key to a secret tunnel. And while he's trying to steal it, someone has to change the king's diapers. The task falls to Hawkins, the gentlest member of the Fox's band. The Fox's lieutenant, Maid Jean, guards Hawkins and the babe while they travel, but when they meet the King's new jester on the road, they decide to initiate a daring plan for Hawkins to replace him, become an intimate at the court, and steal the key. So, humble Hawkins becomes Giacomo: the king of jesters and jester to the king. But things begin to get zany when the King's daughter falls for Giacomo, the King falls for Jean, people randomly sing what are supposed to be recognition codes, and a witch with very effective spells (and poison pellets) begins to interfere. Written by
Some songs that were written but not heard in the film are "I Live To Love" (sung by Danny Kaye to Angela Lansbury when he swings into her bedroom) and an extended "Pass the Basket" number when Kaye appears before the King (just prior to the famous "Maladjusted Jester"). Both songs were, however, recorded and released on the film's companion record. See more »
During Hawkins and Ravenhurst's fight, the safety buttons on the tips of their swords are visible in some shots. See more »
During the opening credits, Danny Kaye dances around the credits while singing a song about the movie. The lyrics of the song relate to the credits. For instance, when the music credits go by he sings about the music and when the screenwriter credits go by he sings about the story. See more »
"What Begins As A Scary Tale, Ends As A Fairy Tale, That's Why Life Couldn't Possibly Better Be"
The Court Jester finds Danny Kaye in Merry Old England fighting in his own small way the usurpation of the throne by Cecil Parker. The real king is an infant who can only be identified by the royal birthmark that is on all the royal family. It's the purple pimpernel and it's on a spot where the sun doesn't normally shine.
His contribution is small, as small as that group of traveling midget acrobats Kaye travels with. But the leader of the resistance the Black Fox played by Edward Ashley needs entertainment for the troops. Kaye and the small tumblers provide a kind of medieval USO show for them.
But through a bizarre set of circumstances Kaye, his true love Glynis Johns and the royal babe find themselves in Parker's well guarded palace.
It'a a good thing there were a lot of conflicting agendas working at that time. Cecil Parker who likes being king, especially for the perks it provides like Glynis Johns if he can seduce her. There's prime minister Basil Rathbone who's hired the real Giacomo the Jester more for his ability as an assassin. Giacomo, played by John Carradine had the misfortune to be waylaid by Kaye and Johns on the way to the palace.
And we can't forget Parker's daughter Angela Lansbury who does not want to marry roughneck knight Robert Middleton who really does want to marry her. And of course sorceress Mildred Natwick who keeps the bumbling Kaye alive with hypnotism at critical moments.
With all that to consider The Court Jester turns into one of Danny Kaye's funniest comedies. It borrows from a lot of films, The Adventures of Robin Hood being one, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court being another. And that famous Danny Kaye routine about the poisonous vessel with that elusive pestle was taken from Bob Hope's 1939 movie Never Say Die.
Well no one claimed The Court Jester was original, it's just very funny. As the song says it does end like a fairy tale, though I do wonder just what became of Angela Lansbury. You might wonder that too, when you see the film.
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