7.9/10
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113 user 36 critic

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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ON DISC
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 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

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

[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

Spoofed in NCIS: Tribes (2008) 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

 
Danny Kaye showcase has "the brew that is true"...
23 October 2005 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

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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