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The Court Jester

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Product Details

  • Actors: Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury, Cecil Parker
  • Directors: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama
  • Writers: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama
  • Producers: Danny Kaye, Melvin Frank, Norman Panama, Sylvia Fine
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: March 30, 1999
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (630 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 079215519X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,059 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Court Jester" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A hapless carnival performer masquerades as the court jester as part of a plot against an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful king.


Danny Kaye spoofs Robin Hood and Scaramouche in this inventive slapstick swashbuckler. Portraying the clownish but good-hearted entertainer Hawkins, he infiltrates the court of the corrupt Basil Rathbone (up to his usual brand of cruel villainy) disguised as the legendary king of jesters, Giacomo. After a court sorceress hypnotizes Hawkins into believing he is also a legendary assassin, Hawkins has more identities than he can keep straight, and Kaye zips back and forth between them at, literally, a snap of the fingers. Comic highlights include a wonderful sword fight with Rathbone in which he constantly switches identities, and the classic "chalice from the palace/vessel with pestle" wordplay as Hawkins plays "hide the poison" and forgets where it is. With comely Glynis Johns as his spy-in-arms love interest, Angela Lansbury as the scheming princess, and Mildred Natwick as the dotty spellcaster, this is Danny Kaye at his comic best. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Our family loves this movie.
Ann T
And laughing at a movie like this makes me feel youthful.
Amazon Customer
A great, fun, musical comedy!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on February 10, 2004
Format: DVD
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.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Lesley M. Schultz on December 28, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
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.
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105 of 120 people found the following review helpful By William Sommerwerck VINE VOICE on May 29, 2003
Format: DVD
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.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on December 16, 2001
Format: DVD
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.
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Yes, and look at the third-party prices on the OUT OF PRINT DVD. Ball's in your court, Paramount. Shame on you.
Mar 24, 2012 by Chazzz |  See all 3 posts
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