Tag Archives: Basil Rathbone

A Jest

The Court Jester

The film I am writing about today is called The Court Jester.  The movie is, by today’s standards, a very old film.  But, as I have probably made clear by now, my tastes are free-ranging in the entertainment world.  If I like something, I like it.

In other cases, as with certain genres or comics – I mean, books – I simply go overboard, which anyone who has read my blog can say with surety.

The Court Jester is a 1950’s comedy based on the Robin Hood legend.  The film stars actor Danny Kaye as Hawkins, an entertainer for the Black Fox’s band of ‘merry men.’  The Black Fox, like Robin Hood, is fighting a man who has usurped the throne of the true King of England.

However, unlike Robin Hood, the Black Fox appears to be in for a long wait before the rightful king can return to take the throne.  You see, the rightful king of England is an infant in the keeping of the Black Fox and his Sherwood Forest-style friends.  When Hawkins is not entertaining the rebels with his song and dance routines (which are a lot of fun, and occur throughout the film), he is stuck playing nanny to the infant King.

This is very awkward for him for two reasons.  One, it makes him look silly in front of the Black Fox’s right-hand woman, Maid Jean (played by Glynis Johns, the mother in Disney’s Mary Poppins).  Hawkins, as you may have guessed, is desperately in love with Maid Jean.  But since he is nothing but a humble entertainer and she a tough, sword swinging rebel, it does not appear that he has any hope of winning her hand in marriage.

The other embarrassing thing about being delegated to caregiver of the baby King is that the true king can only be recognized by the royal family birthmark, called the Purple Pimpernel.  And guess where that is located on the infant King.

Yup.  Underneath his royal diaper!

The Court Jester also stars Basil Rathbone as the Usurper King’s right-hand man, similar to Count Rugen’s position in relation to Prince Humperdink in The Princess Bride.  Except that Rathbone’s character has more sway over the Usurper King than Count Rugen had over Humperdink.  Another great name in the film is Angela Lansbury, who plays the Usurper’s daughter.  While her father is trying to have her marry a nobleman whom she wants nothing to do with, Miss Lansbury’s character is determined to become betrothed to a different man.

So when her old witch-nurse decides to snare Hawkins for her princess – Holy High Jinks, Batman!  Step back, because the ceiling on your laughter is about to get a raise!

The larks never stop in this movie, which has to be one of the best films of the 1950’s era.  Even though I have seen the movie several times now, by the end, my face hurts because I have been smiling and laughing from start to finish!  The Court Jester is a great film “for kids, from one to ninety-two.”  If you can, find a copy, plug it in, sit back, and enjoy!


The Mithril Guardian