The Court Jester: Part I

08 Jun

Note from the Future: I wrote this two nights ago, and I was planning on finishing this tonight, but … shit happens.  Enjoy Part I of The Court Jester below.

So, this will be the most literal interpretation of Insomniac Theatre to date.

See, for the past couple of months, I’ve been closing pretty much every shift at my store.  Normally, I’m all for sleeping in as much as possible.  However, what’s happened is that my sleep cycle has been thrown all out of whack.  I can’t remember the last night that I was asleep before 4 a.m.  Frankly, I’m a little surprised that more people haven’t died lately, what with all the sunrises I’ve seen.

(I can’t even remember where it started, but I know I was a freshman at FPC – it was probably the fire drill with the dryer fire, and I was super pissed because I was sleeping and the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night due to another freshman doing his laundry on the other side of the dorm at two in the morning.  I do not think this was the fire drill where I stupidly got out and evacuated with the rest of the normal people while my two best friends decided to continue to play Mario Kart.  But anyway, Sarah saw me getting frustrated and stabbity, and somehow the idea was born that if Alaina watched the sun come up, someone was going to die.  Hence, the shock at the lack of death lately.)

The other reason I’m returning to Insomniac Theatre is because I’ve also gotten addicted to NBC’s Hannibal.  YOU GUYS.  IT IS THE BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION RIGHT NOW.  There is violence, and psychological drama, and Le Chiffre from Casino Royale, and I keep expecting Daniel Craig to show up and also I’ll never be able to watch the warehouse-naked-Daniel-Craig-chair scene the same way ever again and I’m okay with that, but also, it’s gory and there are things I can’t believe I am seeing on the National Broadcasting Channel and not Home Box Office, and did I mention Gina Torres guest-starred and also Eddie Izzard played a homicidal maniac, and there is food that is also people, and guys?  GUYS?  NO SERIOUSLY COME BACK IT’S AMAZING

So thanks, tonight’s episode of Hannibal, because now I have an image of a dead guy with his TONGUE jutting out from his THROAT embedded in my mind.  As in, the killer REMOVED THE TONGUE and ATTACHED it TO HIS THROAT.  THAT IS NOT WHERE A TONGUE BELONGS.

So let’s watch something with a little more humor, shall we?


Ah, The Court Jester.  Number 86 on my List of Movies.  This title was given to me by Sarah and also Allen.  I am not sure which of them saw it first, but they will mention it at least once every New Year’s Eve.  This year, when I was sitting in the corner just concentrating on getting my body to keep breathing air in and out and not expelling massive amounts of vodka upon exhale (Thing I Learned This Year #1: Hangovers do actually get worse the older you get.  This is not an urban legend.  Thing I Learned This Year #2: I’m old.)  (When your only New Year’s Resolution is to not get shitfaced at the next New Year’s Eve party, then you might actually have a problem.), Allen and Sarah were singing along to apparently the first song in the musical.  Luckily for me, I was too drunk at the time to mention that I had not seen the movie, thus sparing me both mental and physical anguish.  Y’know, in addition to the hell I was in already.

Seriously, kids: if you’re going to drink five Pear Weevils (Pear Vodka + Cranberry Juice, named after my nickname because reasons) in less than two hours with no food, you will get hungover.

So then one fateful night, The Court Jester appeared on TCM.  And I taped it, after having a conversation on Twitter with Allen and Sarah that went approximately like this*:

*I actually tried to find the tweets, but it was so long ago my phone won’t scroll back that far.

Me: Hey, The Court Jester’s on.  That’s a thing I should watch, right?
Allen: Yes.
Me: Angela Lansbury and the mom from Mary Poppins is in this?!  Why didn’t I know this?!
Sarah: Other people’s kids.  YES.
Me: Hey, don’t get mad at me.  All I knew was that this was an amazing movie; your tweets never included a cast list.

Anyway, I started to watch it back in January, but because back then I had a more normal sleep schedule, I … fell asleep halfway through.  But I saved it, and said I’d watch it later and blog it proper.

And, well … after tonight’s Hannibal, I kind of need to watch something that isn’t so … murderey.  (Cue Emily yelling at me to finish watching Arrested Development Season 4 already.)

Without further ado … The Court Jester.

Ooh!  Even Robert Osborne believes that The Court Jester is the best movie Danny Kaye ever made.  That’s … a fairly good endorsement.  I mean, Robert Osborne pretty much loves every movie TCM shows ever, so maybe grain of salt?

Basil Rathbone?  Sherlock Holmes is in this?  I’d probably be a bit more … I dunno, excited, but the only Sherlocks I’ve seen are Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and the mouse from The Great Mouse Detective.  PS, if you haven’t seen BBC’s Sherlock, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR IT’S ALSO FANTASTIC AND NOT NEARLY AS GORY AS HANNIBAL

We open on Danny Kaye in a classic Harlequin costume, singing about how Life Could Not Better Be.  I know from conversations and tweets that this song that plays over the credits supposedly tells the entire plot of the movie.  This was back before spoiler alerts, I guess.

HERMINE’S MIDGETS?  There is something called Hermine’s Midgets?!!?  Oh my god — you guys, I am making ALL THE SPEW JOKES in the WORLD right now.  Like, do we know they’re Hermine’s because she made them hats?  Were they so affronted by her gall to free them that they stole the ‘o’ out of her name?  DOES DOBBY SURVIVE

Also, there is something called the American Legion Zouaves from Jackson, Michigan.  I do not know what those are, but hope to recognize them when I see them?

Well, I don’t know about detailing the plot, so much.  The process of writing and casting a movie, maybe.  But at least I know we’ve got a happy ending, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

“This is the story of how the destiny of a nation was changed by a birthmark.”  Really?  Was the birthmark the entirety of the Magna Carta?

We meet Roderick the Tyrant, who became king by murdering the entirety of the royal family.  I feel that there’s probably a Red Wedding/Game of Thrones joke that I could make here, but I’m sadly unfamiliar with that source material to make sure it comes off effectively, so I’ll just let that stand on its own and move on.  Anyway, he’s coming home, probably after a big crusade or something.  One of his guards gets killed by the Black Fox, who is a copyright-free edition of Robin Hood.  The Black Fox is also supposedly caring for the only infant to escape Roderick’s massacre, the aforementioned infant with the ass-mark.  I like this retelling of the Anastasia myth!

Roderick is pissed that his lackeys may have missed a baby.  Hey, at least his minions haven’t been searching cradles for sixteen years like some other evil tyrants I know.  He’s looking for allies to help fight the rabble.  His minions suggest he ally himself with Griswold.  Y’know, I’m no court intrigue, but I’m not sure I’d invite Clark Griswold to the party, Rod.  I mean, he’s kind of an … oh, there’s another dude named Griswold.  Okay; carry on.  This whole moment sounds like a funnier, less nude version of Game of Thrones.  I assume.  Because, again, I’ve never read or watched those.

It gets really Thrones-ey when Roderick decides to offer Griswold his daughter, Gwendolyn, in exchange for an alliance.  However, Gwendolyn is the awesome Angela Lansbury, and she refuses, because she — like all princesses who don’t actually want power — wants to marry for love.  Dad thinks the witch, Griselda, has poisoned his daughter’s mind, and orders her burned at the stake (as you do with witches).  Angela Lansbury threatens suicide by falling should the witch actually burn.  Just as Roderick’s trying to decide what to threaten next, a spy for the king comes barreling in and confirms that the Royal Infant lives, because he’s spying on the Black Fox, and he’s seen the Royal Birthmark: a Purple Pimpernel.  On the baby’s bottom.  Ooookay.  Apparently a Scarlet Pimpernel was copyrighted, and also, gross as a birthmark.

As Roderick’s team goes to horse and to the woods, we see The Black Fox laughing maniacally at a wanted poster of himself, as heroes do.  We also hear music, so we know a song’s coming up.  The song is appropriately titled “Outfox the Fox,” and the song is full of wordplay and rhymes and MIDGETS HOLY SHIT MIDGETS YES

Uh, anyway.  Great song, shows that the Fox uses doubles as his way of escaping the Sheriff of Rottingham (as one does), and then the real Black Fox shows up as Danny Kaye is standing on a pyramid of midgets (as one does).  Apparently Danny Kaye’s name is Hawkins, and he’s a mere circus performer with a penchant for wearing other people’s clothes.  Hawkins wants to fight, but his official job title is Troupe Entertainer, and I guess that position is needed in every rebel army?  Except in space, of course; I can’t really see Chewie as Entertainer.  3PO, maybe, but also, unbeknownst to 3PO.  And isn’t that the funniest option?

The captain of the Black Fox is a girl, played by Glynis Johns, which proves that all that suffragette work paid off.  Glass ceiling?  What glass ceiling?  There’s no glass ceiling in medieval Britain!

Anyway, another of the Fox’s army warns them that Roderick knows about the infant.  It’s up to Captain Jean to hide the infant, and she needs Hawkins’s acting abilities to make the whole thing work.  They get a big cart of wine, and I want to go to there.  They hide the infant in an empty cask, and right as rain, they get stopped by the King’s Men.  There’s a lot of back and forth and postulating to throw the King’s Men off their trail, and they manage to get away.  There’s a thunderclap, and Captain Jean tells them that they’ll spend the night in the Woodman’s Cottage.  Oh yes, the only Woodman in Britain; his cottage.

As Captain Jean sets up the cottage for the night, Danny Kaye sings the Pimpernel Prince a lullaby, and it’s all very sweet.  I should mention here while there’s a lull, that I know my writing sometimes comes off as sarcastic, but that’s not the case here; I’m enjoying this movie.  Honest.

The Woodman’s Cottage has a very convenient leak, causing Hawkins and Capt. Jean to sleep together on the same small pallet of hay.  Their pillow talk consists of Capt. Jean telling Hawkins about her father, who taught her how to fight injustice, wage war, handle weapons, and as Hawkins is kissing her, she realizes her father may have wanted her to be a boy.  So, Captain Jean is Robin Scherbatsky’s long-lost sister?

Anyway, she doesn’t want to get involved with Hawkins until Roderick the Tyrant has been overthrown and the infant is on the throne.  Uh, dudes?  Maybe don’t put a baby on a throne?  It’s too high, for one; he could fall off and break his crown.  Maybe that’s where that comes from, though?  But also, decision-making isn’t really a baby’s strong suit.  But they don’t have this discussion; instead, they discuss a secret plan to overthrow the tyrant because there’s a passage from the forest to the castle, but the passage is locked from the inside, so they need someone in the king’s court to get into the king’s chambers and steal the key to unlock the passage so they can storm the castle.

ENTER: the Jester.

No, seriously, Jackamole the Court Jester comes into the Woodman’s Cottage looking for shelter.  Wait, I feel that I should correct this spelling before I get made fun of.  Oh, wow, I was waaaay wrong.  *ahem*  Giacomo the Court Jester gets beaned upside the head by Capt. Jean when he announces he’s on the way to the King’s Court, and no, no one has ever met him before, why do you ask?  Thanks to Hawkins’s established need to wear other people’s clothes, he dresses up as the Court Jester and is off to the palace, while Capt. Jean takes the Pimpernel Prince to the Abbey.

Meanwhile, back at the Palace, Roderick is PISSED that the baby is still alive.  Can I be the voice of reason here for just a second?  I mean, I realize that it would make for a shorter movie, but what if Roddy just adopted the baby and decided to not tell it that it was prince?  Because guess what?  BABIES CAN’T BE KINGS, GUYS.  You could rule until you died, and then made little Pimply your next in line, and then everybody wins!  Right?  (Don’t correct me if I’m wrong, I just don’t like the idea of a guy wanting to kill a baby.)

Anyway, there’s a funny moment where Gwendolyn is playing her harp and Roderick wants her to shut up, so he tells her to ‘stop picking at that thing.’  Heh heh heh, also, that’s what she said.  Roderick is putting plans for the tournament in motion: Jackamole the Jester will be entertainer (SORRY, SARAH & ALLEN, but you have to admit it’s kinda funny, right?), Griswold will marry Gwendolyn and bring her to a castle far, far up north, there will be wenches, and fighting, and food, and other things, and as Roderick goes to bed, Ravenhurst hangs back and mentions that Jackamole is also a skillful assassin.  Oh shit, that wasn’t on the resume Jackamole kept in his pockets.

Oh, man!  They actually spelled it on the side of Giacomo’s carriage.  Dangit!  Ruined my joke.  Anyway, Capt. Jean is brought to the palace in the King’s raid for wenches.  GiHawkimo is escorted to the palace by the King’s Guard, where it is revealed that Roderick also enlisted Giacomo’s assassination skills for Ravenhurst et. al.  Meanwhile, Gwendolyn’s threatening suicide again, and honey, here’s a pamphlet; I think you need a better life helper than Griselda.  Anyway, speaking of Griselda, she’s showing Gwendolyn the countenance of fair Giacomo, and tells her that he will be her lover.  Oh, jeebus.

GiHawkimo enters the court whistling the secret code for “I Am a Member of the Black Fox’s Army, Come Help Me” when the blacksmith or whatever who is actually the secret spy for the Black Fox whistles back.  Except GiHawkimo is too busy looking around at other things, and just as the blacksmith or whatever whistles back, Ravenhurst comes out of the palace, so GiHawkimo thinks he is the Whistler, and gives the signal of “yes, we shall soon do nefarious deeds,” which, GiHawkimo thinks he’s talking about getting the key, whereas Ravenhurst thinks he’s talking about killing the king, and dear Lord, that’s a lot of mistaken identities going on.

THEN King Roderick comes in, and there’s the famous tongue twister about the Duchess and the Doge and the Duke in the Italian Court, and what did they all do with their daggers and dirks and … d’other things.  Don’t ask me to retype it, because I think I may have to turn this into a Court Jester, Parte Dos.  Aside from Danny Kaye’s masterful tongue (uhhhhh… sorry.), all I take away from this is that King Roderick LOVES him some wenches (uhhhhh … sorry).

Apparently, “Jester” in Ye Olde English was code for “Pimp.”  Well, if the cape fits … It is now GiHawkimo’s job to find the King his wench.  That resume of unknown talents is getting longer and longer, eh, Hawkins?

GiHawkimo is making sure he has his song memorized when the blacksmith or whatever sneaks in through the balcony.  He tries to tell GiHawkimo that he is the friend of the Fox, not Ravenhurst, but GiHawkimo doesn’t believe him.  The blacksmith or whatever is also the Ostler, and I’m still not sure what an ostler is, and apparently, neither does Microsoft Word.  But you recognize Chewbacca as a real word, MSOffice?  Really?  I know ostlers were real things at one point!  *shakes head*

And then Griselda shows up, and she hypnotizes GiHawkimo to do whatever she says when she snaps her fingers.  She can also literally snap him out of the trance.  (I am 90% sure I used literally correct in that sentence.  As much as you’d like to, please don’t correct me, as it is nearly 4 in the morning, and advancing ever closer to my new normal bedtime.)

Griselda orders GiHawkimo to go and make love to the Princess.  Uh … does that work?  Just … hypnotize a guy and snap your fingers?  *picks up legal pad*  Is there a class I can take to make that happen, or does that go against the whole ‘informed consent’ aspect?

(Oh god, I just realized my mother sometimes reads this stuff.  Just keep reading, Mom!  Nothing to see here in this little paragraph except evidence of my insomnia!  *snaps fingers*  You will not remember this paragraph when next we speak.)

GiHawkimo is heading out the door full bore, off to bore the princess.  As in … oh, you guys probably know what I’m talking about.  Never mind.

And now, I’m going to take a break until Sunday night, and because I’m a nice person, I’ll leave us with the Ostler’s FML face as he realizes just what he’s gotten himself into.

"The fate of Britain rests in this guy's hands?  We're *screwed.*"

You’re welcome.


Posted by on June 8, 2013 in The Court Jester


2 responses to “The Court Jester: Part I

  1. Sarah

    June 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    GROSS INFORMATION ABOUT THE TONGUE THING ON HANNIBAL TO FOLLOW. Delete this comment if you feel the need. Anyways, the muscles and ligaments that attach the tongue extend way down the neck (oh, the things you learn in acting school). He didn’t attach and reattach the tongue- he just severed the connectors, opened the neck where the base of the tongue is attached, and pulled the tongue out through the newly-created slit in the neck.

    Hopefully that brings the image back enough to get you to watch the 2nd half of Court Jester bahahahaha

    • Alaina

      June 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      …….. I hate you so much right now.


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