|by C.J. Chase|
As the movie opens, the current ruler of England, King Roderick the Tyrant, has usurped the throne after the massacre of the entire royal family--except for one surviving baby. A band of outlaws led by the cunning Black Fox are working to remove Roderick and replace him with the rightful heir, the child who bears the royal birthmark on his royal bottom.
Carnival worker Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye) joined the outlaws seeking excitement. He wants "to come to grips with the enemy: face to face, steel to steel, fist to fist." But gentle Hawkins is not a fighter and everyone--everyone except the hapless Hawkins, that is--knows it. Instead of giving Hawkins a sword, the Black Fox assigns him nanny duty for the royal infant.
However, while transporting the child to safety, Hawkins and the Black Fox's sword-wielding lieutenant Maid Jean (Glynis Johns) encounter the newly-arrived court jester Giacomo of Italy, "king of jesters and jester of kings." Things go awry when Hawkins and Jean hatch a plan for Hawkins to take the jester's place and infiltrate Roderick's castle. Unbeknownst to Hawkins, the real Giacomo is more than a mere fool--he is also an assassin hired by Roderick's right hand man Ravenhurst. Poor Hawkins soon finds himself planning assassinations, running from a love-hungry princess, and fighting in mortal combat with the grim and grisly gruesome Griswald.
This fast-paced spoof on the swashbuckler genre works because it incorporates so many types of humor--screwball, slapstick, and some of the most clever word play of the English language you'll ever hear. The clip below contains the first minute of the famous "pellet with the poison" tongue twister.
The cast also includes Angela Landsbury as the princess waiting for "someone dashing and romantic who will carry me away as a princess should be carried away" and Basil Rathbone as the evil Lord Ravenhurst in a parody of his Sir Guy of Gisborne role from the 1938 movie Robin Hood. Sammy Cahn and Sylvia Fine (Danny Kaye's wife) wrote the score for the movie, including the popular "Maladjusted Jester."
The Court Jester is a terrific family movie that appeals across generations. I have watched it with my grandparents, and it is a favorite of my children. We have even purchased copies as gifts for people undergoing difficult seasons of life.
"A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
Do you like classic movies? Do you have any favorites that cheer you when life is difficult?
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her next book, The Reluctant Earl, will be out in early 2013. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at cjchasebooks.com