The Court Jester

1956 film by Melvin Frank, Norman Panama

The Court Jester is a 1956 musical-comedy film starring Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury and Cecil Parker. The movie was co-written, co-directed, and co-produced by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama.


  • Hubert Hawkins: I am prepared to make a statement: When I was a lad I was gloomy and sad as I was from the day I was born. When other babes giggled and gurgled and wiggled, I proudly was loudly forlorn. My friends and my family looked at me clammily, thought there was something amiss: when others found various antics hilarious all I could manage was this [looks at his hands]
Hawkins: or this [gives a small smile]
Hawkins: or this [gives a short giggle]
Hawkins: or this [gives a weird giggle/whimper]
Hawkins: . My father he shouted, "he needs to be clouted, his teeth on a wreath I'll hand him!" My mother she cried as she rushed to my side, "You're a brute and you don't understand him!" So they sent for a witch with a terrible twitch to ask how my future impressed her. She took one look at me... and cried, "He, he, he, he, he, he, he, he, he, *HE*! What else could he be but a jester?" A jester? A jester? A funny idea, a jester. No butcher, no baker, no candlestick maker, and me with the look of a fine undertaker impressed her as a jester? But where was I to learn any comical turn? It was not in a book on a shelf. No teacher to take me, to mold me and make me a merryman, fool or an elf. But I'm proud to recall that in no time at all, with no other recourses but my own resources, with firm application and determination... I made a fool of myself!"
Hawkins: I started to travel to try to unravel my mind and to find a new chance. When I got to Spain it was suddenly plain that the field that appealed was the dance. The Spanish were clannish but I wouldn't vanish and learned every step they had planned. The first step of all wasn't hard to recall, 'cause the first step of all is to stand. And stand. And stand. And stand...
  • King Roderick: The Duke. What did the Duke do?
Hubert Hawkins: Eh... the Duke do?
King: Yes. And what about the Doge?
Hawkins: Oh, the Doge!
King: Eh. Well what did the Doge do?
Hawkins:The Doge do?
King: Yes, the Doge do.
Hawkins: Well, uh, the Doge did what the Doge does. Eh, uh, when the Doge does his duty to the Duke, that is.
King: What? What's that?
Hawkins: Oh, it's very simple, sire. 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.
King: Who did what to what?
Hawkins: Oh, they all did, sire. There they were in the dark; the Duke with his dagger, the Doge with his dart, Duchess with her dirk.
King: Duchess with her dirk?
Hawkins: Yes! The Duchess dove at the Duke just when the Duke dove at the Doge. Now the Duke ducked, the Doge dodged, and the Duchess didn't. So the Duke got the Duchess, the Duchess got the Doge, and the Doge got the Duke!
King: Curious. I... I... hm? What? What's that? All I heard was that the Duchess had a siege of rheumatism. She's 83, you know.
  • King Roderick: You spent some time in the Italian court?
Hawkins: Why, yes. What better place to court Italians?

  • "Get it? Got it? Good."
  • Hubert Hawkins: I’ve got it! I’ve got it! The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
Griselda: Right, but there’s been a change. They broke the chalice from the palace.
Hawkins: They broke the chalice from the palace?!
Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.
Hawkins: A flagon?
Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.
Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.
Griselda: Right.
Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!
Hawkins: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
Griselda: Just remember that.
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