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The Court Jester (1955)

Approved | | Adventure, Comedy, Family | 27 January 1956 (USA)
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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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Danny Kaye ... Hubert Hawkins
Glynis Johns ... Maid Jean
Basil Rathbone ... Sir Ravenhurst
Angela Lansbury ... Princess Gwendolyn
Cecil Parker ... King Roderick I
Mildred Natwick ... Griselda
Robert Middleton ... Sir Griswold
Michael Pate ... Sir Locksley
Herbert Rudley ... Captain of the Guard
Noel Drayton ... Fergus
John Carradine ... Giacomo
Edward Ashley ... Black Fox
Alan Napier ... Sir Brockhurst
Lewis Martin Lewis Martin ... Sir Finsdale
Patrick Aherne 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

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 January 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Hofnarr See more »

Filming Locations:

Palos Verdes, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,200,000, 31 December 1956
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dena Enterprises See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Danny Kaye's daughter, Dena Kaye, said for the rest of his life, when people recognized Danny in a restaurant, they would walk up and spout the entire "brew that is true" speech. See more »

Goofs

During the tournament between Sir Griswold and Hawkins, when Sir Griswold lops off Hawkins' helmet, the helmet's visor opens and a head can be seen inside the helmet. Then Hawkins' head is shown emerging from his armor. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hawkins: Life could not better be / Better be, better be / It could not possibly / No sirrah, sir-rah, sirree! / Songs could not gayer be / Sound your do-re-o-mi, re-mi-fa-so-la-see, fa-la-la-la follow me! / Why be gloomy? / Cut thy nose off to spite thy face? / Listen to me / A nose is hard to replace! / Skies could not bluer be / Hearts in love truer be / I say for you or me / Life couldn't possibly, not even probably / Life couldn't possibly better be! Life could not better be / On a ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are a musical number where Hawkins dances around the credits as they appear. This is also the manner of a medieval theatre where an actor serves as a prologue to introduce the story. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Gilmore Girls: A Family Matter (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
More Than Classic Satire; Perhaps Kaye's Best; a Perennial Favorite
17 June 2005 | by silverscreen888See all my reviews

If this satire of the Middle Ages and hereditary monarchs is not the most hilarious film ever made, in most viewers' books it stands right next to their favorite. The inspired casting of Danny Kaye as a performer who wants to be a patriotic fighter, gorgeous Glynis Johns as his stern captain, Angela Lansbury as a love-prone princess, Cecil Parker as her lascivious and bumbling evil father (a usurper of course), Basil Rathbone and Michael Pate as his co-conspirators and Robert Middleton and Mildred Natwick as roadblocks to the restoring of a baby as the rightful king of the realm guaranteed a film filled with well-acted fun. The script and direction of this colorful, vivid and side-splitting film were delivered by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. Mention should also be made of the gorgeous Edith Head costumes, the art direction, sets makeup, hairstyling and blocking and the songs by Sylvia Fine, Sammy Cahn and others. Other stalwarts in the cast who do very well also include Alan Napier, Herbert Rudley, Noel Drayton, Edwin Astley as The Black Fox (Kaye's boss), John Carradine and more. Millions to this day are still laughing about: the "An Unemployed Jester" song; the switches from hypnotized bumbler to dashing super-swordsman that afflict Kaye in the course of his penetration of the royal stronghold; the classic duel Kaye fights with with the Gruesome Griswold (Middleton); the switching of poisoned drinks that occurs just before the duel with everyone repeating "The poison is in the vessel with the pestle, etc."; and the high-speed knighting of Kaye that precedes both these scenes. The climax of the film features a battle between midgets and foresters doing combats against the usurper's misguided loyalists, and Kaye's exhibiting the royal birthmark on the baby king's bottom to prove his right to lie on the throne. What ends with a song called "Life Couldn't Possibly Better Be" and begins with "You'll Never Outfox the Fox" has by that scene traversed areas of hilarity few have ever ventured upon, or even dreamed to reach. A key to the film lies in the comedic use of Mildred Natwick as a spell-casting Svengali exercising power over the Princess (lansbury) who is besotted with the idea of romantic love; half the goings on are due to her machinations that complicate an already astonishing situation. The rest is made possible by Kaye's impersonating the jester Giacomo (Carradine) who has been sent for by the bad men to do in the opposition. The colors are gorgeous in this film, the acting far above average, and Kaye is at his absolute best whether doing faked accents, signing a lullaby to the boy king or proving that courage is not a matter of muscles at all. This is a movie to fetch out of the vault on any holiday, or for any other excuse. With a bit more care at cutting down Sylvia Fine's vaudeville- type material for Kaye, the movie might have been as appreciated when it was first released as it is now.


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