the court jester
the year: 1955
the genre: comedy
the cast: Danny Kaye (Hubert Hawkins); Glynis Johns (Maid Jean); Basil Rathbone (Sir Ravenhurst); Angela Lansbury (Princess Gwendolyn); Cecil Parker (King Roderick); Mildred Natwick (Griselda)
the plot: The throne of rightful king of England, the small babe with the purple pimpernel birthmark (on his royal backside), has been usurped by 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. 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: 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.
don’t miss: Danny Kaye’s tights. Producers of the film made him wear 'leg falsies' to improve the shape of his legs. This adds a touch of irony when Hubert Hawkins offers the princess all of him, including his legs and calves.
listen for: “I'll take one of those, one of those, ooh, a couple of those. “
did you know: that Basil Rathbone was 63 when TCJ was filmed? He was a world-class fencer and it was due to his efforts that the hilarious fencing scene was filmed without injury. He later admitted that several times he was almost skewered by Danny Kaye's sword.
extra bonus points: if you can name the famous detective Basil Rathbone played in the 30s and 40s. (Pretty good movies if you ever get a chance to watch!)