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The Court Jester  

Review: written Sept 2007

The Vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!

court jester

One of Danny Kaye's finer hours, this farce stands the test of time pretty well. Kaye was the Jim Carrey of his time - if you don't like his pratfalling style of physical comedy once, you won't ever like it - but even if not a fan of his particular brand of tomfoolery, the verbal patter alone is worth the price of admission.

The plot should be brushed over - it's intricate and daft as a good farce should be, revolving around mistaken identities and wooing the girl, and multiple characters up to nefarious deeds. Complications arise when Kaye tries to pretend he is the Jester, and is then hypnotised to believe he is a great swordsman and lover, and changes between identities at the snap of a finger. It is the wonderful script that makes the difference, particularly in Kaye's verbally dextrous moments. This is the movie that first did the `The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true, the chalice from the palace has the pellet with the poison' sketch, which is still classic these many years later. However, there are plenty of other classic scenes such as `When the Doge did his duty and the Duke didn't, that's when the Duchess did the dirt to the Duke with the Doge.' speech, and any scenes with the incomparable Basil Rathbone - still the dashing figure and fencer even at 63.

Support from the brilliant Cecil Parker as the King and even Angela Lansbury as the King's daughter elevate proceedings to make this worth watching, as all of the cast are faultless in their comic timing.

In vivid Technicolour, and with a clean print and clear sound, this is the quintessential light hearted and high spirited swashbuckler spoof, with appeal to both kids and adults.

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