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The Court Jester (1955)

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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 8,324 users  
Reviews: 100 user | 30 critic

A hapless carnival performer masquerades as the court jester as part of a plot against an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful king.

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Title: The Court Jester (1955)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Another live-action musical version of the play, with all-new songs rather than the ones used in the famous Mary Martin production.

Director: Dwight Hemion
Stars: Mia Farrow, Danny Kaye, Paula Kelly
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
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Cecil Parker ...
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Robert Middleton ...
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Herbert Rudley ...
Noel Drayton ...
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Giacomo
Edward Ashley ...
Black Fox
...
Sir Brockhurst
Lewis Martin ...
Sir Finsdale
Patrick Aherne ...
Sir Pertwee
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Storyline

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 Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

king | jester | fox | key | poison | See All (45) »

Taglines:

SONGS! Where Walks My True Love -- Baby Let Me Take You Dreaming -- Life Could Not Better Be -- The Maladjusted Jester -- My Heart Knows A Lovely Song! -- Outfox The Fox See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 January 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Hofnarr  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Features Basil Rathbone's final sword fight on film. See more »

Goofs

When Maid Jean and Hawkins are as merchants and stopped by the king's men, Jean's hand jumps from Hawkin's arm to his chest. See more »

Quotes

King Roderick: The Duke. What did the Duke do?
Hubert Hawkins: Eh... the Duke do?
King Roderick: Yes. And what about the Doge?
Hubert Hawkins: Oh, the Doge!
King Roderick: Eh. Well what did the Doge do?
Hubert Hawkins: The Doge do?
King Roderick: Yes, the Doge do.
Hubert Hawkins: Well, uh, the Doge did what the Doge does. Eh, uh, when the Doge does his duty to the Duke, that is.
King Roderick: What? What's that?
Hubert Hawkins: Oh, it's very simple, sire. When the Doge did his duty and the Duke didn't, that's when the Duchess did the dirt to the Duke with the Doge.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Ritual of Knighthood
Performed by Chorus
Written by Sammy Cahn and Sylvia Fine
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"What Begins As A Scary Tale, Ends As A Fairy Tale, That's Why Life Couldn't Possibly Better Be"
24 September 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

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.


15 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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