Written, produced and directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama came a movie into the film theaters which was the most expensive at that time ($4 Mio.) and did not at all paid out at the box offices ($2.2 Mio). Though it should become a favourite on TV: THE COURT JESTER (1956).
In a nutshell:
King Roderick (Cecil Parker) has unrightful took possession of the throne. But one member of the true royal family has survived: it is a little baby boy, who Hawkins (Danny Kaye) - a ex-carnival artist - takes care of. Hawkins belongs to a gang of rebels lead by The Black Fox (Edward Ashley), who wants to put back the real king on the throne. When Hawkins and Maid Jean (Glynis Johns) - who are in love with each other - are on their way to bring the baby king into safety they meet famous court jester Giacomo (John Carradine).
Hawkins takes Giacomo's place to dispossess the king - but what he did not know: Giacomo is also an infamous assassin who was engaged by the king's mean minister Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone) who fears to loose his power. And then there is King Roderick's daughter Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury) who dreams of a romantic lover to abduct her from the court and she browbeats her lady's companion Griselda (Mildred Natwick), who is able to use magic to get her such a hero - and who do you think Griselda will choose?
Watch out for:
Watch out for:
The fighting scene bewtween Ravenhurst and Hawkins - this scene also bears a little reminiscence of Basil Rathbone's famous final fighting scene with Tyrone Power, jr. in THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940) - the candles!!
You should always watch carefully when Basil Rathbone is fencing: He was one of the best sword fighters in Hollywood and he was still great though he was in his 60ies and they had to double him in one scene because Danny Kaye - at an age of 42 - was a bit too bursting with energy and not that professional which means he was a bit dangerous for his combatant..
- Danny Kaye received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor - Comedy/Musical.
- Glynis Johns is best-known as Mrs. Banks in Disney's MARY POPPINS (1964).
- The high speed marching maneuvers ("yay verily yay") was done by an U.S. Civil War reenactment group.
- Mildred Natwick is maybe best-known as Miss Ivy Gravely in Alfred Hitchcock's THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955).
- When Hawkins/Giacomo is talking German he says: "What have you.." and than starts bubbling unintelligibly. In the German version at this point he "talks" Danish.
- John Carradine is the father of Chris, David (whose death body was found in a most ungraceful pose last year), Keith and Robert Carradine.
- The song "The maladjusted jester" was written by Sylvia Fine, who was Mrs. Danny Kaye. The other songs she wrote in cooperation with Sammy Cahn.
- For the German version Danny Kaye was dubbed - like he mostly was - by Georg Thomalla, who also dubbed Jack Lemmon in almost every German release of his films.
- Danny Kaye had to wear "leg falsies" so that his legs would look more thewy - which makes it much more funny that Hawkins (under the spell of Griselda) offers Gwendolyn amongst other things his "legs and calves".
I love Griselda - she is awesome. I am a big fan of Mildred Nastwick. It's always great when she appears. And I also like Sir Griswold (Robert Middleton) very much. But I got to confess that I love the whole cast! They're marvellous!!
Scene to see:
The famous "the vessel with the pestle"-scene! Not my favourite one - but the one every one will recognize and Danny Kaye's daughter Dena later stated that when her father was in public people often came to him and recite the whole speech. Look for yourself:
Quotes corner:"Who are we to say nay to miracles?"
This picture, which you could also take as Robin Hood parody - even Basil Rathbone does a version of Sir Guy of Gisbourne - is just fun to watch. There some of my favourite actors/actresses in this film: Glynis Johns, to whom I fell in love as a kid, when she appeared in MARY POPPINS (my first suffragette!), Basil Rathbone - elegant and malicious -, Danny Kaye, Angela Lansbury and Mildred Nastwick..
Though you can watch it with children of any age I find some scene quite sexy. Don't fear: nothing to corrupt any character. ;")
When I was a kid we often watched this film around christmas season, that way it became a holiday film for me without any direct connections to the season. Do you have some "traditional holiday films" like that?
"The real king is on the throne, Jean is my very own..."
The End? Wait and watch!
Yours (well and) truly,