Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I twitch only for action.

Continuing in my movie count-up:

26. The Court Jester (1955)

I decided a couple of weeks ago when I posted a quote from this movie and nobody got it that I needed to write about this movie. This is a movie I grew up with and it is one of the funniest movies ever.

Basic plot line: when usurper King Roderick (Cecil Parker) takes the throne of England, a small band of bandits, led by the elusive Black Fox (Edward Ashley), rescue a small baby, the rightful heir to the throne and hide him in the forest. They send the baby under the care of Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye) and beautiful bandit, Maid Jean (Glynis Johns) to an abbey where the heir will be safe. However, when Maid Jean suggests that Hawkins go to the castle under the guise of the Incomparable Giacomo (King of Jesters and Jester of Kings) to spy on the false king, Hawkins finds himself in the thick of the action. And when the fair Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury) falls in love with Giacomo, complications arise. And when the cunning Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone) mistakes Hawkins for the Black Fox, then the trouble really begins!

This film is so delightfully funny. There are so many fantastic lines and wonderful scenes. I honestly had a difficult time deciding which line to use for my title to this post. Should I have gone with "I'm not loo-loo-ing, Sire, I'm willow-willow-wayling" or "There'd be more room if you raised your arm... the other one" or perhaps "Or in so many languages, 'Why tarry? Let us off to the castle!'" Oh my goodness. So many good lines. Danny Kaye is at his comedic finest in the film. The classic "Pellet with the poison" scene, which is laugh-out-loud funny, is featured in the Best of Danny Kaye video (which I watched rather obsessively a few years ago). It's incredible, really, how well he can mess up the words - to the point where you can barely remember what the real words are. The whole magnetic thing is so incredibly wacky but is also remarkably funny. (I also really like Jean's outfit in this scene. Some of her clothing is absolutely lovely!)

The film also boasts one of the funniest fight scenes ever (even surpassing, in my opinion, such well-known ones as The Princess Bride and Monty Python and the Holy Grail). I would embed the scene here to share it with you, but there's a spoiler at the end and that's no fun. I've read a couple of interesting tidbits on the scene but they seem slightly contradictory. One tidbit states that Basil Rathbone, because of his talents as a swordsman, was largely responsible for keeping the two characters injury-free. The other tidbit states that the fight scene was too fast-paced for the older Rathbone and the fight choreographer had to stand in for him a lot.

Since I can't post that one, I'll post this one instead. This is a very funny little scene when Hawkins first meets the king. When I was little, I sat down and wrote out this dialogue because I was so impressed with Kaye's tongue-twisting capabilities and I was determined to imitate it (I must admit, rather proudly, that I used to have this whole thing by heart. I'm really relatively good at tongue-twisters. I haven't practiced this scene in a while, though, so I miss a couple of lines here and there these days).

If you haven't seen this movie and you enjoy comedies, musicals, and/or adventures, you should definitely check it out! If you have seen it, then add a comment with your favorite line (or lines) in the film. There are so many good ones and I'm curious to know which ones stick out to you.


  1. This sounds like my kind of film! Actually I think I watched this long long long time ago and I remember it being pretty funny! I'll have to go get a copy of it from the library! Haha that clip was hilarious, I really could not keep up at all beyond "What did the duke do?" Hahaha!

  2. I've never heard of this movie, but it looks like great fun! Love this scene!!

  3. I've seen this movie soooooo many times! I must've missed your quote quiz! I love the "get it, got it, good" line and the marvelous "vessel with the pestle" scene.

    I also love seeing Glynis Johns play such a beauty! It seems like a rarer part for her.


  4. I like this one: "He lives for a sigh. He dies for a kiss. He lusts for a laugh. Ha!"


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