Nearly every time I watch a movie that I loved as a child, I am reminded at how stupid I was back then. What was once hilarious, exciting, and great is revealed to be something very different to my grown-up sensibilities. There are exceptions, of course, and I’m please to say that The Court Jester is one of them. To be fair, I’ve rewatched this movie a number of times as an adult, so I knew that it was truly a great movie, but I’m still surprised that I laugh out loud watching it.
I loved this movie so much as a child that Danny Kaye was one of my favorite actors and I watched any movie in which he starred. I’m not aware of any of his other movies standing up to my child-brain/adult-brain transition. (I haven’t watched Hans Christian Anderson as an adult so I hold out hope for it.) It is sad to admit that as talented as Kaye was, his filmography is just not that exciting to me. The material never seems to rise to his potential but, here, he gives one of the best comedic performance on film.
The Court Jester, for the uninitiated, is at heart a children’s movie but it is a beast of a children’s movie filmed on location and on elaborate sets in VistaVision. It is part Robin Hood, part Marx Brothers, and part classic Technicolor musical. Consider a list of highlights:
- Face-paced, tongue-twisting dialog
- Acrobatic dwarfs
- Basil Rathbone sword fighting Danny Kaye (who holds his own)
- An unexpectedly beguiling Angela Lansbury
- Magnetic armor
- Much more baby ass than should be allowed for the time
- Hypnosis induced dual personalities
- The American Legion Zouaves of Richard F. Smith Post No. 29 Jackson Michigan (in what may be the highlight of the movie)
- And one of the best bits of movie dialog, “Get it. Got it. Good.”