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This review appears direct to the web courtesy of THE CINEMA LASER.



Outside of the films he made for Samuel Goldwyn, THE COURT JESTER ($35) would have to be Danny Kaye's best know and most popular film. Set in twelfth century England, THE COURT JESTER is a winning mix of swashbuckling, clowning and song. Danny Kaye stars as Hawkins, a well intentioned carnival performer who joins up with a Robin Hood like outlaw to aid in the effort to restore the rightful King to the thrown. Much to his chagrin, Hawkins isn't allowed to perform any truly heroic tasks, instead he finds himself playing nursemaid to the infant who is the rightful King of England. Just when Hawkins thinks that his duties could not be more mundane, circumstances force him to gain access to the Royal Palace by impersonating the world renowned Giacomo, the King of Jesters and Jester to Kings. Unbeknownst to Hawkins, Giacomo is in reality a deadly assassin who uses the guise of Court Jester to work his craft. Once inside the Palace, Hawkins finds himself in the midst of court intrigue, which requires assassination, swordplay, jousting and the wooing of a Princess. Of course, Hawkins is up to none of those tasks. However, Danny Kaye's natural talents as a clown make each of Hawkins surprising successes utterly hilarious. The top notch cast of THE COURT JESTER also features Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury, Cecil Parker, Mildred Natwick and John Carradine.

This Paramount/Pioneer Laserdisc release is astonishingly good. For years, THE COURT JESTER has been in desperate need of Letterboxed treatment. The old, cropped Laserdisc just couldn't do justice to the beautiful VistaVision film. With the 1.85:1 aspect ratio in place, THE COURT JESTER looks more film like than it ever has on video. The transfer has good compositional balance and the lush Technicolor hues are truly breathtaking. Laserdisc quality is quite good, with a detailed image and very little chroma noise. The Pioneer pressing had just a few errant inclusions. The digitally encoded monaural soundtrack had good fidelity for a 1956 production, and should be amplified because THE COURT JESTER is after all, a musical.

THE COURT JESTER is Danny Kaye at his best and the Laserdisc is beautiful. Recommenced.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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