Kaye's Classic Comedy on the Blu that is True: Paramount's Court Jester

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The Court Jester

The comedic genius of Danny Kaye shines no brighter anywhere than it does in his medieval musical with more castle intrigue than any film that's ever swashed a buckle or buckled a swash. Kaye plays Humbert Hawkins, a former carnival worker who left his job to join up with The Black Fox (Edward Ashley), a Robin Hood figure who rallies folks to help him defend the country against the tyrannical King Roderick I (Cecil Parker), who assumed the throne after he had his men kill the entire royal family.

But a child of the royal family survived, an infant, spirited away by The Black Fox's men. They must safeguard the child and take down the king to return liberty to the land. But to get into the castle, they must get the key to a secret passage, a key held by the king himself. To do this, Hawkins must travel with Maid Jean (Glynis Johns) to deliver the child into the protective arms of an abbey -- but on the way they encounter a jester, traveling to the court from Italy to assume his new duties for the king. Jean and Hawkins hatch a plot to impersonate the jester, get close to the king, get the key, and then open the tunnel for the Fox's men to invade.

But the plans run off the track when Hawkins mistakenly thinks his "inside man' to assist him is Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone) -- trusted advisor to the King. And Ravenhurst believes Hawkins is an assassin, hired by one of his men at his behest, to take down his three rivals so the he alone may have the king's ear. Further complicating things, Roderick is proposing an alliance with the men of Sir Griswold (Robert Middleton), in exchange for marrying to Griswold his daughter, Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury), who will only marry for love -- and thanks to her sorcerous handmaiden, Griselda (Mildred Natwick), believes Hawkins to be that love.

Plots get intertwined, everyone thinks everyone else is doing something else, and an intricate web of comedy is woven into a tapestry of classic entertainment. Kaye's ability to transform from one personality to another (when Griselda hypnotizes him to become a dashing man of action at the snap of a finger) is sheer wonder to watch, and the classic "Vessel with the Pestle" bit is still quoted by fans fifty years later.

Paramount's The Court Jester has never looked better than now with this remastered Blu-ray release. Kaye's swift wit and swifter tongue are a master class in performance acting. Batman fans with a keen eye in among our readers will pick out Alan Napier (Batman 1966's Alfred) as one of Ravenhurst's three targeted rivals, Sir Brockhurst.

Add this family classic to your collection today.

5.0 / 5.0