Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Court Jester (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Court Jester (1955)

In co-directors Melvin Frank's and Norman Panama's classic musical comedy set in medieval England that spoofed swashbucklers, with Danny Kaye in a dual role as carnival entertainer Hubert Hawkins, and as a court jester impersonating Giacomo:

  • the infamous rhyming wordplay and convoluted dialogue
  • the first tongue-twisting wordplay scene between King Roderick (Cecil Parker) and Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye), impersonating court jester Giacomo:
    - The Duke. What did the Duke do?
    - Uh, the Duke do?
    - Yes. And what about the Doge?
    - Oh, the Doge!
    - Uh. Well what did the Doge do?
    - The Doge do?
    - Yes, the Doge do.
    - Well, uh, the Doge did what the Doge does. Uh, when the Doge does his duty to the Duke, that is.
    - What? What's that?
    - 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.
    - Who did what to what?
    - Oh, they all did, sire. There they were in the dark; the Duke with his dagger, the Doge with his dart, and the Duchess with her dirk.
    - Duchess with her dirk?
    - 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!
  • the hypnotizing spell cast on the court jester by ambitious court witch Griselda (Mildred Natwick) that could hilariously be undone - and reinstated - by just a snap of the fingers, employed in the scene in which he was hypnotized (to believe he was a dashing lover) and he snuck into Princess Gwendolyn's (Angela Lansbury) chambers to woo her: ("What manner of man is Giacomo? Ha ha! I shall tell you what manner of man is he. He lives for a sigh, he dies for a kiss, he lusts for the laugh, ha! He never walks when he can leap! He never flees when he can fight (thud), Oop! He swoons at the beauty of a rose. And I offer myself to you, all of me. My heart. My lips. My legs. My calves. Do what you will - my love endures. Beat me. Kick me. (kiss, kiss) I am yours")
  • the discussion between court jester Giacomo and court witch Griselda about a riddle, with instructions on how to avoid a poisoned drink - specifically, about his having to remember the cup location for a pre-joust toast with a drink in a vessel that was poisoned by pellets, but then -- much confusion with a change in the directions, with hilarious results:
    - "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?"
    - "Right. But there's been a change. They broke the chalice from the palace!"
    - "They broke the chalice from the palace?"
    - "And replaced it with a flagon."
    - "A flagon...?"
    - "With the figure of a dragon."
    - "Flagon with a dragon."
    - "Right."
    - "But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?"
    - "No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!"
    - "The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true."
    - "Just remember that..."

"What did the Duke do?"

Court Jester Hubert Hawkins/Giacomo (Danny Kaye) with King Roderick's Daughter, Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury) Under a Magical Hypnotic Spell

Court Jester Giacomo with Court Witch Griselda

"The Pellet with the Poison in the Vessel with the Pestle"


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