The Court Jester (1955)

court jester movieThe pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.

 

Well, this is it folks.

The tops.

A-number-1.

The big dance.

Acknowledging that the rest of this cold, dark earth may feel differently, I declare The Court Jester to be the funniest, wittiest, most quotable movie ever to light up the screens of cinematic history. Get it? Got it? Good.

And because I just so happen to love this movie beyond any devotion that could be considered “healthy” I ought to tell you in full disclosure that not only do I have this film memorized, but I periodically enjoy dressing in dual-colored tights and reenacting various scenes late at night while my wife is asleep. (I’m joking of course — I don’t own any tights.)

The Court Jester stars, of course, Danny Kaye — the dearest, closest, most cherished friend I have who was never aware of my existence. (I believe Dick Van Dyke is second in that category.)

Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, and a very young Angela Lansbury all do a great job in this film as well, plus a few additional cast members you’ll recognize from other old movies who make this a very fun movie to watch and/or reenact if you happen to own red and yellow tights (which I don’t.)

court jester movieI should warn you that there a few aspects of this movie that are over-the-top or just plain corny, but hey, it was the ‘50s.

OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: If you happen to know of anyone selling red/yellow tights, I’m looking for a more durable pair… for a friend.

Really though, all “jesting” aside (that’s what we in show biz call a “pun”) Danny Kaye very often plays a nice guy who wants to be tough but is sort of a goof ball — and The Court Jester is no exception. In fact, I’d say that this film highlights that humorous disparity more than any of his other roles.

Take, for instance, this brief exchange between Hawkins (Kaye) and Jean (Johns):

  • Hawkins: I find it hard to believe that [any woman] could be fond of a man who isn’t a fighter.
  • Jean: Sometimes tenderness and kindness can also make a man. A very rare man. 

Manhood is not measured by the might of our muscle, but the strength of our spirit. Not by our power to provoke, but our capacity to calm. Not by our ability to avenge, but our facility and faculty to forgive and forget.

After all, was it not the greatest Man of all who allowed Himself to die that the rest of us might live?

For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” — Luke 9:56

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