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."
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The throne of rightful King of England, the small baby with the purple pimpernel birthmark, has been usurped by the evil King Roderick I (Cecil Parker). Only the Black Fox (Edward Ashley) 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 Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye), the gentlest member of the Fox's band. The Fox's Lieutenant, Maid Jean (Glynis Johns), guards Hawkins and the baby 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 (...Written by
Included amongst the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies. See more »
During the "They'll Never Outfox the Fox" number Hawkins finds a "most wanted" poster of the Black Fox. At 9:44 he begins ripping the paper and handing the pieces to his circus friends. On the first rip, the foley work is behind the action, so we don't hear the first rip until after Hawkins has started to tear it. On the third "rip", although we hear the sound of the rip, the paper does not actually tear. See more »
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 ...
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After the cast credits appear, Basil Rathbone's name slides onto the screen two more times, in large type used in ghost or horror films; and Danny Kaye each time knocks it off the screen. See more »
Danny Kaye showcase has "the brew that is true"...
If you're a DANNY KAYE fan, you can't afford to miss this one.
The highlight for me is the "vessel with the pestle" tongue-twisting routine that he carries off to perfection in his own inimitable way. That is, until it switches to "the flagon with the dragon", at which point everyone is rightfully confused.
So much plotting, I won't begin to describe this medieval romp. Just sit back and enjoy while Angela Lansbury (looking very radiant and beautiful) as Gwendolyn, Mildred Natwick as Griselda and Basil Rathbone as Ravenhurst (reprising his role as Sir Guy of Gisbourne in THE ADV. OF ROBIN HOOD) all try to play it straight as Kaye goes into one dizzy sequence after another.
The technicolor photography is gorgeous to behold, the sets are jaw-droppingly expensive and thoroughly believable, and the lilting songs performed in clever style by Kaye and others more than compensate for any weaknesses. The final duel between Rathbone and Kaye, involving a spell that transforms Kaye into a super-swashbuckler at the snap of a finger, is extremely well staged for both comedy and excitement. Kaye proves his natural athletic grace and ability while Rathbone makes us yearn for the days when he was dueling Errol Flynn at Nottingham castle.
All in all, a thorough delight from beginning to end. Glynis Johns is charming as Kaye's sweetheart but the real surprise is seeing a youthful Angela Lansbury looking like a storybook heroine with her flowing blond hair and blue eyes radiant in technicolor.
The whole family should enjoy this one!
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