The Court Jester

Synopsis: The throne of rightful king of England, the small babe with the purple pimpernel birthmark, has been usurped by the evil King Roderick. Only the Black Fox can restore the true king to the throne--and all he needs is the king's key to a secret tunnel. And while he's trying to steal it, someone has to change the king's diapers. The task falls to Hawkins, the gentlest member of the Fox's band. The Fox's lieutenant, Maid Jean, guards Hawkins and the babe while they travel, but when they meet the King's new jester on the road, they decide to initiate a daring plan for Hawkins to replace him, become an intimate at the court, and steal the key. So, humble Hawkins becomes Giacomo: the king of jesters and jester to the king. But things begin to get zany when the King's daughter falls for Giacomo, the King falls for Jean, people randomly sing what are supposed to be recognition codes, and a witch with very effective spells (and poison pellets) begins to interfere.
Production: Paramount Home Video
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
101 min

This is the story of how the destiny

of a nation was changed by a birthmark.

A royal birthmark on the royal

posterior of a royal infant child.

Here returning to his castle is King Roderick.

Roderick the tyrant, who some

months before seized the throne

by a massacre of the entire royal family.

But uneasy lies Roderick's crown,

for rumor hath it that an infant,

the rightful heir to the thrown

had survived the massacre.

And even now is being cared

for by a group in the forest.

A group led by an elusive dashing

outlaw known only as..

the Black Fox!

The child lives! Death to

the tyrant! The Black Fox.

The Black Fox again!

To the castle, quick!

My kingdom seething with revolt,

cutthroats and assassins in every tree!

Why must I be surrounded by fools?

Ravenhurst! Ravenhurst!


Could you have been so

incompetent, bungled so horribly,

as to have permitted

that child to live?

Sire, there is no child.

My men assure me that none

of the royal family escaped alive.

Believe me, sire,

this is nonsense.

Nonsense? You call it nonsense, Ravenhurst!

Is it nonsense that I cannot

ride my own domain,

without being

murderously attacked.

My child, I came

within an inch of my life.

Oh, father.

Each day, some new insurrection.

Who is this Black Fox?

Oh just some ridiculous adventurer

with a handful of rabble.

Rabble today but

an army tomorrow!

We need help to wipe

them out. Men and arms!

Aye, an alliance with our good

friend Griswold of the North!

Aye, alliance, and quickly! He arrives

tomorrow for the great tournament.

Alliance with Griswold...

Sire, this rabble

can be crushed.

Griswold has men and arms.

We need no uncouth

interloper from the north.

Uncouth, yes, but

Griswold is strong.

Perhaps too strong.

Perhaps our friend

Ravenhurst fears an alliance

would put Griswold and not

himself at the king's right hand!

You shall die for this!

One of us will!

Stop! Stop! Stop, I say!

Put up your

sword, you fool.

Sire! -Silence! -But sire! -Silence!

-Your pardon, sire.

And you, too. Must we

quarrel amongst ourselves?

Do you think I

could make alliance?

Griswold is rich.

What could I offer him?

That which he desires most

in the world. Marriage, sire.

With your daughter,

the fair Gwendolyn.

Marriage with

Griswold? Never!

What's that you say?

He's a brute and a lout!

Brute or not, lout or not, if I

so decide, you'll marry Griswold.

I will not.

I am the king. If it pleases me,

you will marry Griswold.

If it pleases you so much,

you marry Griswold.

When I marry,

I marry for love.

Someone dashing

and romantic,

who will carry me off as a

princess should be carried off!

Who fills your head with

this childish fiddle faddle.

Ah, I know... Griselda.

She of the evil eye. Take

the witch out and burn her!

Harm one hair of her head and I

throw myself from the highest turret.

Gwendolyn, you go too far!

Dire news, sire! I've just come

from the forest. The child lives!

The child lives?!

Aye, sire.

How know you that this is the royal

child and not some outrageous impostor?

Because sire, disguised as a

member of their group, I saw him.

And I can assure you that

like his royal ancestors,

and on the same spot

as his royal ancestors,

he bears the royal birthmark.

The... purple pimpernel?

The purple pimpernel.

Oh... Then why stand you here,

you incompetent Jackalings?

To horse! To the forest!

Cut them down!

Kill the infamous child who

claims to be the rightful king.

And destroy forever this traitorous

fiend who calls himself the Black Fox!

Hawkins! Hawkins! Come here!

Hawkins, you hurted yourself ?

Are you all right, Hawkins?

Come here!


Hawkins, how many times have

I told you to stay out of my clothes?

And who are

these little people?

Oh, these are

my friends, sir.

They used to work

with me at the carnival.

They're the finest troupe of

acrobats and tumblers in all of England.

But why did you

bring them here?

Well they too would be

part of our group, sir.

They feel strongly as we

do about the tyranny,

and would join in

our worthy cause.


Well, captain?

The new recruits

are arriving, sir.

Good. Hawkins,

I don't mean to be disparaging

to your little friends,

but weapons

are limited and...

Oh oh, I didn't intend

for them to fight, sir, I..

I merely thought that they would take

over my chores of entertaining the men.

Then perhaps I'd be free

to bear arms myself,sir,

and come to grips

with the enemy.

Face to face and steel to

steel. Fist to fist, sir.


Little friends, I'm sorry,

but food and weapons are

limited so you see, uh...

We'll do anything for Hawkins,

sir. He always was our friend.

I'm sorry, there's no

time to discuss it.

Please go quickly

and without detection.

Well, if you ever

need us, call us!

Thank you, I shall.

Bye Hawkins!

Hawkins! The recruits will be

here in a moment. Get the child.

Child... er...

I hate to keep

mentioning this, sir...

Just get the child!

Well, sir, you know I'd do

anything for his majesty, but,

don't you think it look

better if a woman were...

Tend to your duty!

And get out of my clothes!

Yes sir.


Your majesty.

Your majesty.

Your majesty.


Don't you think it

really would, look better

if this kind of thing

were done by a woman?

I've told you repeatedly, Hawkins.

Each one serves as best he can.

I know, sir, but when I ran away from

the carnival, sir, and joined your group,

I thought I'd be in the thick of it.

Robbing the rich and giving to the poor.


Our presence is known.

The king's men are on their way!

We must disperse!

Maid Jean. - Yes, sir.

You will see that the child is

transported to the abbey in Dover.

The usual method?

- The usual method.

Come, Hawkins.

- Yes, captain.

The rest of you disperse!

Hawkins, hurry!

I'm putting the last

touches on, right now.

Don't just stand there,

man! Make haste!


Why do you stare?

I... Beg pardon,

captain, but, I'm...

I'm sorry, captain, but

I didn't mean to stare.

Each time I see

you as a woman, sir,

I mean with your

flowing hair...

Conceal the child! Quickly!

Yes, captain.

The king's men.

You know what

to do, Hawkins.

Yes, captain. I'll try.

Ho there! Hold I say!

Come down old man, we would

talk to you. You too, wench.

What's that?

Hurry along, this

is king's business!

What's the meaning of this?

- Come on!

W...what's the meaning of this?

What do you want of us?

Where go you, ancient one?

Who are you?

- What's that?

- Who are you?

What's... what's that?

- Who ARE YOU?

Fine, thank you.

- No! No, no. WHO?

Who! -Who, -who. -Who. -who.

I am Foltzingdale

uh the wine merchant,

and this is my

little granddaughter.

Uh poor child,

she's a mute,

she neither speaks nor hears

except through my fingers.

Child, the... No,

no, here child,

these, these are the king's

men. Men of the king!

Eh.. she says long live

the king and down with his..

long live the kind

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Norman Panama

Norman Kaye Panama (April 21, 1914 – January 13, 2003) was an American screenwriter and film director born in Chicago, Illinois. He collaborated with a former schoolfriend, Melvin Frank, to form a writing partnership which endured for three decades. He also wrote gags for comedians such as Bob Hope's radio program and for Groucho Marx. The most famous films he directed were Li'l Abner (1959), the Danny Kaye film The Court Jester (1956), and the Bob Hope film How to Commit Marriage (1969). He wrote Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), Road to Utopia (1946), and The Court Jester, among other movies. He won an Edgar Award for A Talent for Murder (1981), a play he co-wrote with Jerome Chodorov. Panama continued to write and direct through the 1980s. He died in 2003 in Los Angeles, California, aged 88, from complications of Parkinson's disease. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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