Brittany D. from NAMPA, ID Reviewed on 10/1/2010...
i watched this movie out of recommendation from Egbert & Reoper(i most likely butchered their names; they rate how good/bad the new films are) & i loved it despite how cheesy it was. 'The royal family has a certain mark on the royal buttocks' is how it starts out, and the story starts out that the whole family wasn't killed and there is still an infant that is still alive. how the prove this is by lowering the pants of the baby and showing that there is, in fact, a mark. later in the film a character is hypnotized to love the queen until someone snaps there fingers and he'll trance in and out of his hypnotic state.... the whole movie is a barrel of laughs.
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Peter Reeve | Thousand Oaks, CA USA | 02/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Possibly the funniest musical comedy ever made. Even if you are not a Danny Kaye fan, you should try this movie. Don't be put off by the opening sequence, which looks rather dated now. The film contains some excruciatingly funny scenes, including the classic "Flagon with the dragon" routine. This is Kaye at his brilliant best.
The story (set in a mediaeval England which cheerfully makes no attempt at historical accuracy) is remarkably solid and complex, which helps maintain the film's brisk pace.
So when you are in the mood for some good old-fashioned fun, put your feet up and summon "The Court Jester".
Update: I recently watched this movie again and I think my original 4-star rating was wrong. This is a 5-star classic."
"the perfect storm" of farces
William Sommerwerck | Renton, WA USA | 05/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"IMPORTANT NOTE: "The Court Jester" is a true widescreen film, shot in VistaVision, and (probably) intended to be projected at 1.85:1. It is ABSOLUTELY NOT a 4:3 film cropped to "look like" widescreen.
Danny Kaye is a classic example of a wildly talented performer who was not well-served by the movie industry. Sam Goldwyn knew to shoot Kaye in Technicolor to show off his red hair, but not to give Kaye first-rate material. In most of Kaye's films he plays some sort of congenital [dunce]. If you think gross stupidity came to movies only recently (eg, "Dumb and Dumber"), you've never seen "The Kid from Brooklyn," "On the Riviera," and similar Kaye [stuff].
"The Court Jester" is a wonderful exception, as Kaye's jester is no fool. Panama and Frank -- the team who produced most of the Hope/Crosby "Road" films -- were at their absolute peak with a wildly convoluted send-up of Robin Hood and similar derring-do. In addition to clever wordplay, they aren't afraid to descend to the deliriously dumb -- when Glynis Johns, pretending to be a deaf-mute, makes 15 seconds worth of hand gestures that Kaye interprets as nothing more than "No", he explains it's because she stutters.
The Panama-Frank direction is also on-target. When Kaye and Johns clobber John Carradine, it's shown as shadows on the wall, in the best Michael Curtiz fashion.
Danny Kaye's wife, Sylvia Fine, wrote a lot of specialty material for him. (One might argue that he would have been nowhere nearly as successful without her.) Her comic songs were sometimes modeled on Gilbert & Sullivan; "The Maladjusted Jester" is her take on "Oh, a private buffoon" from "The Yeomen of the Guard." (I suspect she wanted to use Sullivan's music, but couldn't, as it was still under British copyright.)
Basil Rathbone reprises Sir Guy from "The Adventures of Robin Hood," and Panama-Frank gave him plenty of screen time, both as an actor and as a fencer -- Rathbone was, and still is, the consummate slick villain. And what can one say about Glynis Johns but "delicious," or Mildred Natwick but "inimitable," or Angela Lansbury but "chunky"? (Sorry about that.)
Pretty much a perfect entertainment -- the ideal film to chase away the blues."
Laughter? Comedy? Yea, Verily, Yea...
Reviewer | 12/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yea, verily, yea; in days of old when knights were bold, and intrigue was a staple of the Royal Court, there were Utopias usurped, kings killed, querulous queens, knights knighted, dukes daily doing whatever it is dukes do and ladies forever in waiting. And in every court there was also a fool; a merrymaker, an entertainer, one with access to the royal ear and often a doer of different kinds of deeds, such as the one portrayed in "The Court Jester," directed by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. Danny Kaye stars as Hubert Hawkins, an entertainer by trade, who due to circumstances within his control becomes jester to the court of King Roderick I (Cecil Parker). Roderick, however, is a false king, sitting upon the throne in the stead of the real heir to the throne, still a baby, who bears the undisputable truth of his birthright in a birthmark of a scarlet pimpernel upon his backside. And yea, verily, yea, the intrigue mounts as Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone) jostles for position within the court, while a rebel known as the "Black Fox" (Edward Ashley), along with his beautiful daughter, the Maid Jean (Glynis Johns), and his band of merry men attempt to install the true king to the throne. While in the midst of it all, there is Hawkins, now known as "Giacomo, king of jesters, and jester of kings," proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that in the end, it is laughter that is, indeed, the Ruler of any court. Co-directors Frank and Panama deliver a real gem with this delightful comedy, bringing the story to life with humor, music and song, and creating some truly memorable moments along the way. From the "Initiation of Knighthood" sequence, to the famous tongue-twisting "The vessel with the pestle has the pellet with the poison, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true" scene, to Kaye crooning a lullaby to a baby, this film is rich with humor and song that has an innocence and purity about it that makes it readily accessible to any audience. This is humor that runs deep; humor with a heart and soul you'll want to embrace. Simply put, this is terrific stuff; the timing-- especially by Kaye-- is impeccable, the delivery is perfect and the jokes work. The real key to the success of this movie is, of course, the multi-talented Danny Kaye, who sings, dances, jokes and mugs his way through one of his best performances ever. And what makes Kaye so good, and so special, is the "spirit" of his performance, the sense of joy he emanates while proffering his talents. He gives so completely of himself, so entirely and so honestly, that he's just an absolute joy to watch. You'll never find a false moment in his performance either, and that's something that is discernible in his eyes; it's that twinkle of laughter and love in his eyes that separates and elevates him from so many other performers, in whom you will often find a pretentiousness upon close scrutiny. That's something you will never find in Danny Kaye, a consummate entertainer who obviously loved what he was doing, and was able to successfully convey it to his audience. He was unquestionably unique; a true one-of-a-kind. The lovely Glynis Johns brings beauty and vitality to her role of Jean, acquitting herself quite nicely alongside Kaye's abundant antics. Though not a part that stretched the limits of her considerable talents, she creates a credible character and most importantly, she makes a nice fit with her co-star and lends a beguiling presence to the film. A nice bit of work by Johns, who some eight years later would create one of her most memorable roles, that of Mrs. Banks in "Mary Poppins." Basil Rathbone is a delight, as well, in a role that is essentially a parody of others he's played, specifically his Sir Guy of Gisbourne in "The Adventures of Robin Hood," opposite Errol Flynn. The success of his Ravenhurst, however, lies in the fact that he plays him straight, without a hint of the humor or parody inherent in the character as presented within the context of this story. It goes without saying that he is perfectly cast here, and his swashbuckling duel with a bewitched Giacomo is a lark. Also turning in a notable performance, in a role that is minor, yet integral to the story, is Angela Lansbury, as the king's daughter, Princess Gwendolyn. It's a part that demands little more of her than being beautiful and charming, and she succeeds on both accounts. Her screen time is fairly limited, but it's enough to leave an impression, and a good one at that. The supporting cast includes Mildred Natwick (Griselda), Robert Middleton (Sir Griswold), Michael Pate (Sir Locksley), Herbert Rudley (Captain of the Guard), Noel Drayton (Fergus), John Carradine (Giacomo), Alan Napier (Sir Brockhurst), Lewis Martin (Sir Finsdale) and Patrick Aherne (Sir Pertwee). A fun, feel-good film, "The Court Jester" is a virtual showcase for the versatile Danny Kaye, and he responds with an unforgettable performance. This is true comedy at it's best, and proves overwhelmingly that a movie doesn't have to be hip, crude, rude or vulgar to inspire real laughter. Most of the "comedies" produced in the past decade or so wouldn't even make it to the bottom of the chart this one tops. For some real laughs, just call for a Kaye comedy: Completely conducive to contemporary conviviality. Get it? Got it. Good. Yea, verily, yea. It's the magic of the movies."
Charming and Hilarious Re-telling of the Robin Hood Story
Lesley M. Schultz | Oakland, CA United States | 12/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not a great Danny Kaye fan, but this movie is one the the very funniest I've ever seen. Everything about it is excellent, from the production values to the songs & lyrics, from the fine quality of actors to the charm and wit of the dialogue and the story. There is literally nothing wrong with this movie. It is fit for all audiences, from the youngest to the oldest members of your family. I remember the first time I saw it, being struck by the fact that all the actors seemed to be having an absolutely marvellous time. Particularly during the Jester's first call at entertaining the court...unforgettable and sheer delight. Every single person on camera looked like they were having a wonderful time just being there. I hadn't seen anything like such a fine emsemble cast since 'All About Eve.' I think it must have been because there were no bad lines, no bad parts, no scenes that didn't work, and everyone had a chance to shine. Having a good material to work with really does make a world of difference. Stars Danny Kaye, Angela Landsbury, Basil Rathbone, and a host of marvellous British actors whose names are right now escaping my memory. Buy it. Keep it. Enjoy it for years."
PRIME DANNY KAYE
scotsladdie | 05/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some consider THE COURT JESTER Kaye's best film; while this is definitely arguable, it's a highly entertaining spoof on swashbuckler/Robin Hood type films. The colour is a bit gaudy on VHS but on recent viewing ,the DVD transfer is bright and clear. The poison's in the pellet/vessel/pestle routine is almost exceedingly clever but the songs by Sylvia Fine (Danny's wife) are cleverly engaging. Glynis Johns makes a delicious Maid Jean, and Angela Lansbury is rather cunning and cheekily selfish as Lady Gwendolyn (I can't get over how much more attractive Lansbury become as she matured) Mildred Natwick does her usual scene stealing and Basil Rathbone excels as menacing Sir Ravenhurst. The movie is abundant with charm and laughter (Kaye even makes singing a lullaby to the baby King heartfelt and touching.)"