SO! What I was going to say was that the best bit of this Bank Holiday weekend for me was Friday night with a take-away Chinese meal watching one of my top ten favourite films, Danny Kaye's 1956 Hollywood hybrid – part-musical, part-romantic-comedy, part-swashbuckler – The Court Jester!
It is impossible – IM-POSSIBLE – to watch this film and not feel cheerier than you were before the Paramount Mountain gives way to the VistaVision logo and the tirelessly versatile Kaye comes dancing onto the screen in motley, reacting to the rolling credits of his distinguished co-stars: Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, Cecil Parker, Alan Napier, Mildred Natwick and, in particular, Basil Rathbone who plays Kaye's nemesis in the film and whose name menacingly returns again and again in an evil-looking type-face!
The plot is simplicity itself: Kaye plays Hubert Hawkins, a former troubadour, now part of a band of woodland outlaws, headed by the Robin Hood-like Black Fox, fighting to overthrow the usurping tyrant King Roderick I (Cecil Parker). The outlaws have the rightful heir to the throne in their possession – a baby boy bearing the hereditary birthmark of a purple pimpernel on its left buttock!
Aided by Maid Jean (the outlaw band's Maid Marian figure), Hawkins sets off to infiltrate Roberick's castle in the guise of Giacomo – "King of Jesters and Jester to the King" – an entertainer from the Italian Court.
The rest is blissful foolery.
Americans always claim to have no understanding of the British theatrical tradition of Pantomime, but this film is evidence to the contrary as some of its top-name players camp it up in a wonderfully silly romp with a score (by Sammy Cahn and Kaye's wife, Sylvia Fine) comprising a couple of ballads and a string of patter songs worthy of Messrs G&S.
There are also hilarious set-piece sequences of quick-fire, punning banter that must have been a nightmare to learn – let alone deliver with a straight face...
BUT –– which one has the pellet with the poison...?
Anyway, if you've never seen The Court Jester don't just take my word for it: get the DVD and see it for yourself. And if you have seen it then you'll now that, like an old friend, reunion is always pleasurable. So, why not watch it again? Go on – you know you want to!
So, what do you say...?