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[[quoteright:285:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TheCourtJester.JPG]]
[[caption-width-right:285:"Get it?" "Got it." "Good."]]

->'''Giacomo:''' "King of Jesters..." [[CatchphraseInterruptus (gets hit on the head, falls unconscious)]]\\
'''Maid Jean:''' "And jester to the king!"

The royal family of old [[UsefulNotes/{{Britain}} England]] has been wiped out. Roderick recently usurped the throne as king and now only an infant boy survives from the [[RoyalBlood true line]]. The Black Fox, and his band of outlaws, have sworn to protect the true king.

But fate conspires to put the child in greater danger than ever before. When two of the outlaws, Hubert Hawkins and Maid Jean, try to take the child to safety, they wind up within the walls of the usurper's castle. Now they must rely on their wits to keep the child from being found.

If this were a drama, the odds would be against them. But this is PlayedForLaughs.

This 1955 Creator/{{Paramount}} film, written and directed by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, and starring DannyKaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Creator/AngelaLansbury, Cecil Parker, Mildred Natwick, and JohnCarradine, has been a {{Comedy}} CultClassic on TV for years, mercilessly mocking the conventions of [[TheMiddleAges medieval]] {{Swashbuckler}} films of the 1930s through the 1950s. A lot of it is thanks to the talent of DannyKaye, who is about as unlikely an adventure hero as you could get, and the film makes sure to milk every drop of that.

It flopped when it came out, but was later a hit on TV. Now it's on the American Film Institute's list of "100 Years... 100 Laughs," and preserved in the United States NationalFilmRegistry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
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!!Tropes from this film include:
* ActionGirl: Maid Jean, especially for the standards of the time.
* AlliterativeName: Hubert Hawkins.
* ArrangedMarriage: Griselda [[DefiedTrope trying to get Gwendolyn out of being forced to marry Sir Griswold]] sets up a lot of the plot. Although it's hinted Gwendolyn may end up with the "Grim, Grisly, Gruesome" Griswold anyway.
* BadassFingersnap: Played for laughs, as a finger snap is Hawkins' TriggerPhrase in and out of hypnosis.
* BatheHerAndBringHerToMe: More or less happens to Maid Jean, but [[ExploitedTrope she uses it as a way to get the castle key needed for their plan]].
* BirthmarkOfDestiny: The Rightful Heir (still an infant) has a birthmark on his butt. There are a couple of scenes of Hawkins holding the infant in his arms, lowering the swaddling clothes just far enough to reveal the birthmark.
* BumblingDad: Kind of, in that Hawkins is actually a more than competent foster father to the young king (in fact, he's the most competent parental type in the whole movie), but he's bumbling at pretty much everything else.
* CaptainErsatz: The Black Fox is a swashbuckling thief and outlaw leading a group in resistance against an illegitimate king from a headquarters hidden in a forest. If he were the main character of this movie, he'd probably have outright been RobinHood explicitly.
* ChekhovsArmy: [[spoiler:Hawkins's dwarf friends, seen during the "Outfox The Fox" number at the start of the film.]]
-->'''[[spoiler:Dwarf]]''': Well, if you ever need us, call us.\\
'''Black Fox''': Thank you. I shall.
* AChildShallLeadThem: One wonders how the government will be run with the infant king on the throne.
* CombatPragmatist: Hawkins isn't above biting and pinching in order to gain advantage in a swordfight.
* CourtlyLove: Parodied, not only with Hawkins only doing it because he has been {{Brainwashed}}, but by Danny Kaye making silly poses to spoof the almost implausible complexity of many romantic heroes.
* CreditsGag: Among other things, Basil Rathbone's name comes up in scary font any time Danny Kaye's song mentions evil or villainy. No points for guessing which side his character's on, although, since he's [[TypeCasting Basil Rathbone]], that was never really in question.
* DamselOutOfDistress: Maid Jean is caught and taken to the castle, and it almost makes her more dangerous to the antagonists than if she had gotten away.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Ravenhurst and his associates scheme murder to retain their influence with Roderick.
* DistinguishingMark: The Purple Pimpernel on the royal posterior.
* DoesNotLikeShoes: Jean might be an example of this but it's hard to tell if she is or the bare feet are just part of her costume in the disguise and better than wearing heels in the final scene. She does wear boots as part of her regular "outlaw uniform."
%%* EvilChancellor: Ravenhurst.
* ExcuseMeWhileIMultiTask: Spoofed in the climactic battle when Hawkins (under hypnosis) nonchalantly fights off Ravenhurst's attack while pouring a cup of wine to toast Ravenhurst's health! Ravenhurst is infuriated.
* {{Farce}}: The entire plot.
* {{Flynning}}: Parodied in the climax. It should be noted that Danny Kaye was such a quick study at fencing (and incredibly skilled at mimicking others in general) that, in any shot where you don't see Basil Rathbone's face, Kaye is actually fighting a fencing master who was hired to be Rathbone's double. Rathbone had been an expert fencer since childhood, but he was twenty years Kaye's senior and couldn't keep up in a couple of the scenes. The fencing master himself, Ralph Faulkner, is said to have told Kaye to take it easy on him!
* FunWithSubtitles: The opening song.
* GambitPileup: And ''how!'' Between the Black Fox and Ravenhurst and Griselda and Gwendolyn and others all pursuing their own ends, it's a wonder anybody can accomplish anything.
* GorgeousPeriodDress[=/=]HollywoodCostuming: Supplies the heading picture for the latter. Angela Lansbury looks like she should be posing next to an Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 at the 1955 GM Motorama.
%%* GuileHero: Maid Jean.
* HappyHarlequinHat: As per his role, though he spends just as much time without it.
* HiddenBackupPrince: The rightful heir, who as a baby doubles as a LivingMacGuffin
* HollywoodHistory: But of the ArtisticLicense kind. Of course there has never been any Roderick on the throne of England, legitimately or illegitimately, and that any resemblance in this film to the real [[TheHighMiddleAges Middle Ages]] is a coincidence not intended. {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in the opening song:
-->We did research --\\
[[BlatantLies Authenticity was a must]].\\
[[AntiquatedLinguistics Zooks!]] Did we search --\\
And what did we find? ''(sneeze)'' [[TheyJustDidntCare A lot o' dust!]]
* HypnoFool: It seems to give Hawkins skills he never had, such as seduction and sword fighting.
* ImplausibleFencingPowers: Hawkins slashes a set of candles, apparently to no effect, and Ravenhurst laughs at him. Then he ''blows'' on the candles, and they fall apart. This is another ActorAllusion, as well, as Tyrone Power had pulled a similar, if less exaggerated, bit of swordplay on Basil Rathbone's Captain Esteban in 1940's ''The Mark of {{Zorro}}.''
* IntimateMarks: The Rightful Heir (still an infant) has a BirthmarkOfDestiny on his butt. In the ending, the titular Jester, with the infant in his arms, lowers the swaddling clothes just far enough to reveal the birthmark, to a long line of nobles.
* TheJester: Hawkins is forced to impersonate one to infiltrate the castle, hence the film's title.
* {{Knighting}}: Spoofed in so many ways.
** Yea, verily, yea.
** Candidate passes.
%%* LaResistance: The Black Fox's people.
* LightningCanDoAnything: At one point Hawkins' armor is hit by lightning. After Hawkins puts it on anything made of metal [[SelectiveMagnetism sticks to him!]]
* TheMiddleAges: Solidly in HollywoodHistory form, during the reign of King Roderick I of England.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: The villains are surprised at how much of a doofus Giacomo is and wonder whether or not he is doing this. Helped by the secret self-serving actions of Griselda.
* OhCrap:
** "Jester to the King. Jester to the King. To the King?!"
** "Light up the oil, this man must boil, this man named Giacom-OH?! Oh! No!"
** "Yea, verily, yea! Yea?"
** [[spoiler:Hawkins during the joust after his helmet is knocked off.]]
* ParodiedTrope: Swashbuckling, courtly love, knighting, dueling, outlaws, rebellion, and just so many other tropes of these films.
* PimpedOutCape: Roderick wears an [[RequisiteRoyalRegalia ermine cape]] most of the time, perhaps compensating for how he got on the throne. His daughter wears one for just one scene.
* PimpedOutDress / SimpleYetOpulent: Many of the outfits in this movie range from explicitly fancy to implicitly fancy.
* PoisonedChaliceSwitcheroo: One of the most famous plays on it, even if it's trying to remember which cup instead of trying to switch them.
-->"The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!"
** And then the chalice from the palace is broken, so it got even more confusing as Griselda didn't put the poison back in the vessel with the pestle. So now it is ...
--->"The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true."
* PrincessesPreferPink: Gwendolyn wears at least one pink outfit.
* {{Pun}}: Kaye's song "The Maladjusted Jester" exists to lead up to "A jester unemployed/Is nobody's fool!"
* PunchPunchPunchUhOh: Not quite, but similar as Hawkins slaps Griswold in the face with a gauntlet repeatedly and Griswold doesn't even seem to notice that it's happening, but when Griswold slaps Hawkins in the face it nearly knocks him over.
* RecitationHandclasp: One of several postures taken (he can't seem to stand still) while Danny Kaye is singing.
%%* RightfulKingReturns
%%* RoyalBlood
* RunningGag:
** "Get it?" "Got it." "Good."
** Finger snapping breaking him in and out of his spell.
* ShapedLikeItself: From the opening credits song "Life Could Not Better Be":
-->Knights full of chivalry,\\
Villains full of vi-ila-any!
* SheCleansUpNicely: Hawkins is surprised to see Maid Jean disguised as a woman.
* ShoutOut: [[{{Zorro}} The Black Fox]], with a BilingualBonus and the candle scene parodying a scene from ''The Mark of Zorro'', in which Basil Rathbone played the heavy too.
* SiegeEngines: A small one was used to launch the villains over the battlements.
%%* SupportingLeader: The Black Fox.
* SupportingProtagonist: Hawkins wants to be a hero, but he's mainly just thrown around in the events of the film.
* {{Swashbuckler}}: The film is an ingenious combination of this and the {{Comedy}} genres.
* ThereIsOnlyOneBed: When Jean and Hawkins spend the night in the woodman's hut.
* {{Tomboy}}: Maid Jean. Her father taught her how to fight. She suspects he wanted a boy.
* TongueTwister: "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle...." Hawkins of course becomes completely TongueTied.
%%* TotemPoleTrench: Well actually cloak.
* TranslationYes: Jean pretends to be deaf and mute, Hawkins pretends to be her grandfather. When asked by a soldier if she has seen a group in the forest, she speaks at length in sign language. Hawkins translates this as "No."
-->'''Soldier''': What took her so long?!\\
'''Kaye''': Stutters.
* TriggerPhrase: A finger snap toggles the spell on Hawkins.
* TrueBlueFemininity: One of Gwendolyn's dresses is blue, and has a matching cape trimmed [[PrettyInMink with ermine]].
* WickedWitch: Well... "''amoral'' witch" describes Griselda.
* YouDontWantToCatchThis: Jean uses this tactic to fend off the king's advances.
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