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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Court Jester (1956)

In order to restore the true heir (an infant) to the throne of England, a rebel (Edward Ashley) orders two of his underlings, a minstrel (Danny Kaye) and a maiden (Glynis Johns) to infiltrate the King's (Cecil Parker) castle. I love this movie which may well be Danny Kaye's best film. It's a witty satire on swashbucklers yet the film manages to both parody the genre and yet still provide the thrills of a genuine swashbuckler. Kaye is a polarizing comic actor yet I find even his detractors are won over by this comic gem. The laughs are abundant and there are several classic comedy sequences: Kaye changing personalities literally at the snap of a finger, the hurried knighting of the jester, the now classic "vessel with the pestle" exchange to name a few. Surprisingly a failure in its first release, the film's reputation has grown through the ensuing years. Colorful and fun. Written, produced and directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama. With Angela Lansbury, Mildred Natwick, John Carradine, Michael Pate, Herbert Rudley, Robert Middleton, Alan Napier and as the film's villain, Basil Rathbone in perfect form and at age 63, still wielding a sword with panache.

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