MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 196 this week

The Court Jester (1955)

8.0
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 8,130 users  
Reviews: 98 user | 31 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.

0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 31 titles
created 01 Oct 2011
 
a list of 25 titles
created 31 May 2012
 
a list of 37 titles
created 4 months ago
 
a list of 33 titles
created 2 months ago
 
a list of 30 titles
created 3 weeks ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Court Jester (1955)

The Court Jester (1955) on IMDb 8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Court Jester.

User Polls

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Two carefree castaways on a desert shore find an Arabian Nights city, where they compete for the luscious Princess Shalmar.

Director: David Butler
Stars: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Mary Poppins (1964)
Comedy | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family.

Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson
Adventure | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An apprentice witch, three kids and a cynical conman search for the missing component to a magic spell useful to the defense of Britain.

Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

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 »

Director: Hal Walker
Stars: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Kermit and his new found friends trek across America to find success in Hollywood, but a frog-legs merchant is after Kermit.

Director: James Frawley
Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson
The Goonies (1985)
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A group of kids set out on an adventure in search of pirate treasure that could save their homes from foreclosure.

Director: Richard Donner
Stars: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen
The Music Man (1962)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A con man comes to a Midwestern town with a scam using a boy's marching band program, but things don't go according to plan.

Director: Morton DaCosta
Stars: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett
Animation | Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear have a difficult time trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization.

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Stars: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When eccentric man-child Pee-Wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.

Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton
A Bug's Life (1998)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A misfit ant, looking for "warriors" to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe.

Directors: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The Muppets' twist on the classic tale.

Director: Brian Henson
Stars: Tim Curry, Kevin Bishop, Billy Connolly
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In 1850 Oregon, when a backwoodsman brings a wife home to his farm, his six brothers decide that they want to get married too.

Director: Stanley Donen
Stars: Jane Powell, Howard Keel, Jeff Richards
Edit

Cast

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

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 more »

Taglines:

The Musical Romantic Adventure Of This Or Any Year! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In the famous "snapping" swordfight between Danny Kaye and Basil Rathbone, Kaye's sword movements were too fast for Rathbone, who was 63 at the time. The film's fight choreographer dressed up as Rathbone's character and was filmed from behind for the fast sections. If you look, you can see that most of the fight consists of "Rathbone" from the back, then shots of the real Rathbone standing "en garde". See more »

Goofs

When Hubert and Maid Jean are nearing King Roderick's castle, Sir Ravenhurst and Sir Locksley watch their arrival through telescopes, an invention of the 17th century. See more »

Quotes

Hawkins: I've got it! I've got it! The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
Griselda: Right. But there's been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!
Hawkins: They *broke* the chalice from the palace?
Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.
Hawkins: A flagon...?
Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.
Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.
Griselda: Right.
Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the ...
[...]
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

Featured in The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Life Could Not Better Be (Reprise)
Written by Sammy Cahn and Sylvia Fine
Performed by Danny Kaye and Chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The Second of my 5 favourite movies of ALL TIME. 10/10
20 September 2002 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews



The Court Jester (1956) is a superlative, priceless treasure of the 20th Century. This classic tale combines several grand legends such as Robin Hood, Giacomo, and Dartagnan's Daughter with the more base nobility of the little baby's royal birthmark. (Once seen, it is impossible to forget the repetitive flipping scene used to obtain more converts.)

Everyone should by now know the plot: once the hapless carnival entertainer Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye) assumes the identity of the new court jester Giacomo (who happens to well deserve his reputation as a skillful assassin), Hawkins is thrown into one court intrigue after another, each beyond his control or understanding.

As the socially powerless court jester, Hawkins has to survive not only accidents and royal petulance, but deliberate attempts at his execution as part of court intrigue.

So I won't waste time recapping all that.

Instead, I'd like to mention the still potent generation gap politics and gender politics that routinely consumed the weakest of mediaeval society, sometimes court jesters, or often just women.

King Roderick has a rather cynical and self-possessed daughter in the Princess Gwendolyn (a shockingly young and beautiful Angela Lansbury), whom he nastily views as more a threat than a loved one, and their war of wills is hilarious. But he needs her alive because he has no male heir, so Gwendolyn regularly threatens suicide whenever she doesn't want to do something: "Harm one hair on her head, and I throw myself from the highest turret", she announces when her father tries to get rid of Gwendolyn's nanny.

The king schemes to get his daughter out of the castle by marrying her off "way up North" to the "grim and grizzly, gruesome Griswold".

Of course, she has no intention of going. "I am the King. If it pleases me, you will marry Griswold", he tries to command her. "-If it pleases you so much, you marry Griswold!" retorts his witty daughter.

Gwendolyn has a nanny/personal confidant in Grizelda (Mildred Natwick), the "witch" (actually a scientist, they just didn't have a word for that yet), who has raised the Princess to believe in more girlish romance, partly to soften up Gwendolyn's belligerent cynicism. Unfortunately, with such a brutal horse-trade as her proposed marriage to Sir Griswold of Macklewein, girlish fancies of romance are starting to fly out the window of Gwendolyn's heart, and she matter-of-factly threatens Grizelda with a dirk (a small dagger) if "the witch" can't arrange a better alternative.

Desperate to save both their lives, Grizelda (look, she ain't no witch. She has pills and potions. That makes her a chemist, alright?) pulls out every trick in her book. She first proffers the court jester as a romantic alternative to the princess, and then mesmerizes him to make sure he courts the princess as ardently as the princess wants. Grizelda's hypnosis of "Giacomo" imbues him with super-confidence, so he CAN fight for his life as well as Gwendolyn's hand. Mildred Natwick obviously had a terrific time pretend-hypnotizing Danny Kaye. "Master, you can snap me in and snap me out", he drools at her; and later, Kaye's impeccable talents at physical comedy have him jerking to every unconscious snap of everyone's fingers.

However, Hawkins is already in love with the only woman from their guerilla group back in the forest, Capt. Jean, aka Maid Jean (Glynis Johns), who is, of course, beautiful and smart, and could whip his narrow butt in a heartbeat, if only she didn't LIKE him so much. Before they both arrived through different routes at King Roderick's castle, they had one romantic night together in an emergency hut as they sheltered the true heir to the throne. As they talk of politics in the hut, and regret about the loss of the throne, she ends up seducing herself (and it's nice to see how that works) as she reflects to him that "my father made me everything I am". To his credit, Hawkins reassures her that her father "does beautiful work", in a very satisfying gender role reversal for 1956. Sadly there is not enough chemistry between them, and there SHOULD'VE been, because the rest of the scene is very honest.

The homage scenes to The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), the Errol Flynn classic with the much younger Basil Rathbone, are real gifts. They include the procession of robed monks secreting reinforcements, and Rathbone doing himself in the earlier role.

But my personal favourite is the spoof scene of Errol Flynn accidentally cutting through one humungous candle in the 1938 film. In The Court Jester (1956), Danny Kaye, fencing FAR TOO WELL against Rathbone in his hypnosis-fortified guise, deliberately cuts a swath through an entire row of candles without any apparent effect-until he breathes on the candles, and they all drop off their candlesticks on cue. This Court Jester scene has stuck in my mind from childhood.

The entire supporting cast is terrific. Cecil Parker's King Roderick eventually becomes quite personable as he relaxes into his regal position and quips with "Giacomo"; and he's very funny with Maid Jean as a lecherous royal repelled by her clever claim to having an STD! WOW, pretty contemporary for 1956, don't you think?

I really love all the musical numbers as well. They are so well integrated that they provide a deeper understanding of the plot. Kaye's incredible, once-in-a-lifetime-find wordsmith-wife Sylvia Fine crafted ALL his tonguetwisters, including these (songs). And Kaye just flips them off as if they were nothing.

It's a shame we don't see more jester's hard knocks to establish the jester MILIEU. Nevertheless I always get blown away by the final lyrics of The Maladjusted Jester: ".For a jester's chief employment is to kill himself for your enjoyment/ And a jester unemployed is nobody's fool!"

There is a lot of political commentary in this alleged piece of fluff.

Addictively quotable. No more quibbling: 10/10.


39 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Favourite Lines/Scenes?? Elastigirl_
Movie Bombed PlascenciaCar
how come this is not in the top 250 ? yveslavandier
Most quoted movie? Alex_58
who was the BABY? missevy
A song I'd never heard... Elastigirl_
Discuss The Court Jester (1955) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?