The Court Jester - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Court Jester Reviews

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½ September 19, 2016
The Court Jester is absolutely hilarious. I was actually surprised because I suspected that the attempts at humor in the movie would be mostly centered around Danny Kaye bumbling around and making faces. While there is a fair share of both of those things, it's the plot that I found most entertaining. This movie takes everything to excessive levels, which makes me laugh. The basic plan of the protagonist is simple, but they keep throwing more and more complications in there with competing agendas from at least 4 different sides. It's as if each new character that walks onto screen adds their own twist to the story. Then there are 2 different McGuffins that keep getting shuffled around, and with all this the movie starts to feel like a classic screwball comedy. The cast also elevates The Court Jester brilliantly. Glynis Johns, Cecil Parker, and Angela Lansbury all have a perfect feel for the comedy while still making their characters genuine instead of goofy like Danny Kaye. The surprise in the cast is Basil Rathbone who feels like he was plucked right out of an Errol Flynn film in order to add gravitas to the villain. He even gets a few scenes to display his brilliant sword-fighting skills, which are only accentuated by the comically bad swordplay from Danny Kaye. I couldn't ask for much more from The Court Jester, because it completely delighted me from start to finish. It's the kind of movie that made me think "why didn't I watch this years ago?"
April 8, 2016
This is a great family video. I would recommend anyone to see it.
April 4, 2016
Perfect movie - my fave of all time. Danny Kaye is a force of nature & the rest of the cast is note perfect. Basil Rathbone oozes "suave bad guy" & a young Angela Lansbury is a hoot! Songs, dancing, comedy, love and wenches (ooooh, wenches). 10/10
March 7, 2016
The jokes just get better and better as the movie goes on, serving up family entertainment and laughs that are not hard to enjoy.
October 2, 2015
Sublime ridiculousness. The vessel with the pestle indeed. Danny Kaye hams it up in this swashbuckling medieval farce, thrust center stage as part of a Robin Hood (Black Fox) band determined to get rid of the usurping evil king (and sinister sidekick Basil Rathbone) and put the royal baby (with the purple pimpernel) on the throne. As luck would have it (and/or a very clever script), Kaye is able to take the place of Giacomo the King of Jesters and gain access to the king in order to find the key to the secret passage and, well, um the plot doesn't actually matter. There is a lot of really funny business (particularly with regard to a magic spell that changes Kaye's personality when someone snaps) and the whole thing rolls merrily along, so quickly that there is really nothing that anyone watching can do but submit. The witty song over the opening credits sets the tone and foreshadows the wordplay. A gem.
September 24, 2015
Easily one of the greatest comedies ever, in his time or ours. Danny Kaye was an awesome entertainer and a beautiful Ginger, love Gingers. 2015 Angela is still quite a beauty!
½ January 29, 2015
Set in an era similar to Arthurian England, The Court Jester features a questionable king, Roderick I, who has taken over by killing off all of his opposition. As one of the earliest "VistaVision" films, The Court Jester looks gorgeous. It is full of lush, extremely saturated color. The few panoramic landscape shots are stunning and almost surreal... A brew that is true--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'... What Begins As A Scary Tale, Ends As A Fairy Tale, That's Why Life Couldn't Possibly Better Be!!
½ December 28, 2014
The plot is cardboard, many of the attempts at running jokes are feeble, and the whole thing jolts to an abrupt end with plot threads left hanging. However, Danny Kaye is by and large plenty entertaining, and there are some delightful musical numbers and a few jokes that really hit the mark.
½ June 23, 2014
The plot is complicated - and not in a good way. The execution could've been a lot better.
April 2, 2014
One of the all time funniest movie ever. Danny Kaye always made every one laugh, cry, and some times both at the same time.
March 22, 2014
One of my favorite movies ever, with foxes, and doges, and young Angela Lansbury before they were cool.
February 11, 2014
You have to be in the right mood, but this can be hilarious. Danny Kaye at his finest.
January 12, 2014
I almost didn't watch this movie. I started it up, and the grainy & oversaturated hues always found in such older films made me grumble. I find I have to be in the mood for older films, which are patently different than the films of today. Not just in look/cinematography but in acting & script as well. But I silenced my grumblings with the proper application of a whiskey sour and got on with it.

Boy jolly gee am I glad I did! That is, I fucking loved it.

The Court Jester is a mistaken-identity comedy and a spoof of chivalry films, especially the likes of Robin Hood, but without the more grotesque / anarchic elements found in the equally wonderful Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail. It's certainly 'family fare' but don't let that cause you to doubt its hilarity and sophistication.

The script, and most of the gags, are nothing short of hilarious. Basically the plot is thus: there's an usurper king on the throne. Hubert Hawkins (played by Danny Kaye) is a member of a rebel organization attempting to reinstate the 'proper' king, who is just a baby. They're having a tough time of things, though they have a plan: if they could manage to enter the secret backdoor of the castle, they could overthrow the usurper king with only a handful of men. The only problem is that this secret backdoor is always locked and the king keeps the key close to his person at all times.

When Hubert Hawkins and love interest Maid Jean (played by the husky-voiced Glynis Johns) have a chance meeting with Giacomo, King of Jesters and Jester of Kings, recently hired to entertain the king's court, they see their chance. They knock out Giacomo and Hubert Hawkins takes his place.

What really makes this film such a delight is how several subplots intertwine:

A) One of the king's advisors, Sir Ravenhurst, actually hired Giacomo, King of Jesters and Jester of Kings, because he was also a skilled assassin!
B) Griselda, a witch and mentor to the princess, attempts to use Hubert Hawkins to seduce the princess and thereby save her own life.
C) Hubert's love interest Maid Jean is picked up by the king's men who were on the search for 'wenches' to bring a little life to the king's party, which he is throwing in honor of Sir Griswold, who he expects to marry to the Princess, who doesn't want to marry him.

Hubert becomes the lynchpin to each of these subplots, yet he really has no idea what he's doing, and it's laugh-out-loud hilarious to watch him bumble through each person's schemes.

Final Say: The Court Jester is tremendously funny, and excellently scripted. Unlike many comedy films today, The Court Jester relies less on grotesquery or pushing the envelope (not that there's anything with that - This Is The End was fabulous) and more on plain old wit. Absolutely worth a watch.

How to Watch It: With others! Comedy always better with other people, unless it involves a lot of sex jokes and you're a teenager and with your parents, who are conservative. Then it's awkward.

Trivia: Practically every single actor or actress who played in this film is now dead - except the Princess (Angela Lansbury, most famous for Murder, She Wrote) and Maid Jean (Glynis Johns). They're 90 and 88, respectively.
December 28, 2013
Absolutely entertaining. Danny Kaye's best movie.
November 25, 2013
Pretty funny. A little along the lines of A Princess Bride.
July 23, 2013
I highly recommend this movie.
This movie is so great. I think anyone can enjoy this, even though it is old (not quite when dinosaurs roamed the earth but close) the humor is ageless. Danny Kaye does an excellent job (as always) and shows some amazing comedic chops. His jester is fantastic and his language impersonation at one point in the film had me in stitches. I think the most memorable part is of course the jousting sequence. In particular finding out which vessel had the poison and which one had the brew that is true. Also if you want to see a young Angela Lansbury you should check this out. This is truly a remarkable movie and if you haven't seen it yet, you should take some time to watch it.
This is on the Green Embers' Recommended List!
June 3, 2013
Danny Kaye plays Hawkins, an actor enjoying his time entertaining people, such as a trapeze midget group. When the rule of the infant King of England is usurped by the evil Roderick (Cecil Parker), Hawkins decides to disguise himself as the king's jester to end his short reign.

The film also stars Basil Rathbone as Roderick's advisor Ravenhurst, Angela Lansbury as the Princess who has a crush on Kaye, Glynis Johns as Jean, a maid who is secretly part of Kaye's group, and Mildred Natwick as Griselda, the Princess's advisor who is also a hypnotist.

Basically, this is The Adventures of Robin Hood with lots more comedy, and that's not a bad thing. I just watched this film recently on Turner Classic Movies, and I left the room with a smile on my face.

Danny Kaye was really hilarious in this film. In every scene he's in, he give us his full comedic range, from his imitations, smart dialogue, and funny facial expressions. His "Pellet with the Poison" speech is laugh-out-loud funny and will probably make a comedy lover pee their pants.

Also entertaining in the swordfight between Danny Kaye and Basil Rathbone at the end of the film. Similar to the one in Adventures of Robin Hood, it's pretty entertaining, funny, and suspenseful at the same time. What's really interesting is the fact that Rathbone was in his 60's when he did this scene, which is even more impressive.

If there are any miscasts in the film, it's Glynis Johns. Her romantic scene with Kaye is awkward and weird. She is also a little on the annoying side. But the good news is, she would later play Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, where she was more enjoyable.

I also found it weird that the kingdom would want to bow down to a baby. Yeah, I know that the baby had a birthmark on the butt cheek and was next in line for the throne, but can the revelation just wait until when the baby grows up? Seriously, you can't worship a baby!

In the end, The Court Jester is a pretty funny comedy with a very funny performance from the legendary Danny Kaye.
½ May 24, 2013
Starring Danny Kaye with Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, and Angela Lansbury, this comedy of errors has a man posing as a court jester in order to assist the true heir regain his throne. After infiltrating the castle, Kaye unknowingly gets mixed up in a murder plot, falls under the spell of the witch, and must complete his mission, all the while posing as the funny man. However, he finds himself accidentally jousting for the king's daughter as well as dueling while his beautiful accomplice tries to bail him out and save their plan. Despite all the mishaps, more often then not everything turns out right and that goes for the ending too. Danny Kaye is hilarious and some of the scenes are classic including the snapping spell and the chalice from the palace. It is certainly evident after watching this film that life could not better be!
½ April 11, 2013
The Court Jester is a funny film. It is about a hapless carnival performer who masquerades as the court jester as part of a plot against an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful king. Danny Kaye and Glynis John give incredible performances. The script is well written and witty. Melvin Frank and Norman Panama did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the adventure and humor. The Court Jester is a must see.
January 20, 2013
this Is an all time favorite classic!
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