This review of Warner Archive’s recent DVD release of “Danny Kaye Double Feature” rounds out the series of posts, that began with discussing the four-disc “Danny Kaye: The Goldwyn Years” release, on titles associated with “The Danny Kaye Centennial.” This celebration marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of a genuine screen legend.
Seeing Kaye express every emotion from sheer panic to heartfelt passion, skillfully undergo rapid costume and accompanying character changes, and perform song-and-dance numbers that involve lightning-fast transformations from operatic baritones to rapid-fire falsetto lyrics in every movie makes every Kaye film in any format a bargain.
Including Kaye’s arguably best-known film 1955’s “The Court Jester” makes “Double” a great release on which to end this series on his uber-awesome movies. The other film is the much different, but equally good, biopic “The Five Pennies” from 1959.
“Jester” is set in medieval times and has Kaye playing circus performer Hubert Hawkins, who has joined the band of Robin Hoodesque the Black Fox. These merry men and women are dedicated to ousting the current king of England, who has wrongfully seized control by having every known rightful heir to the throne killed.
In typical Kaye fashion, Hawkins longs for bigger and better things than being a low-level lackey; the element of a proverbially fateful encounter that gives Hawkins a chance to be a hero is an equally prevalent theme in these offerings.
In this case, Hawkins seizing an opportunity to impersonate the titular comedian to gain access to the castle as part of a larger scheme to overthrow the king sets the primary action in motion. The interval between Hawkins arriving at the castle and the inevitable happy ending has enough sword fights, hilarious wordplay, murders, and elaborate song-and-dance numbers to hold the attention of even the worst sufferer of ADHD.
As Unreal TV’s review of the Olive Films release of the Kaye film “Knock on Wood” mentions, this fractured fairy tale that precedes the equally hilarious “The Princess Bride” by roughly 30 years includes the “chalice with the palace” scene. Very few people could doubt that this is the most famous scene from any Kaye film; even fewer could deny that it is one of the funniest scenes from any film ever made.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, is of that classic scene.