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Isolde Jane Holland "Isolde" (Hudson Valley, New York, USA)
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Danny Kaye's sublime "Court jester.", 29 Jan. 2005
This 1956 classic is widely considered to be Kaye's most
inventive and sustained feature. The Robin Hood type parody
of the swashbuckling genre is tailor-made for Kaye's unique
comic gifts for patter, tongue-twisters and slapstick. In
fact, he received a special honorary Oscar for this performance.
Oscar does occasionally get it right.
Danny plays Hawkins, a member of a group of forest rebels
who are protecting the infant heir to the throne from the
usurper King Roderick. To overthrow him Hawkins must infiltrate
the palace and court disguised as Giacomo, King of Jesters
and Jester of Kings.
Once within the palace, the somewhat timid and awkward
Hawkins is hypnotized by court enchantress Griselda (Mildred
Natwick) into believing himself to be a bold and fearless
master swordsman and cunning assassin. A finger snap is
Hawkins trigger to switch to his bold new persona,
and naturally the ensuing scenes have more inopportune snaps than a revival of West side story.
In these scenes Kaye displays rare comic finesse, switching
instantaneously between cringing incompetence and
swaggering, emboldened valor.
There is an impressive fencing scene with the villianous
Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone, often called Hollywood's
greatest fencer ever). After Rathbone hung up his Sherlock
Holmes deerstalker, he went on to perfect the character of
the elegant, aquilline evildoer. I always thought he deserved
a knighthood for real.
In another uproarious scene, Hawkins entertains banquet
guests with the complex, dazzling word-play of "The Jester's lament", because "...a Jester unemployed is nobody's Fool."
The opposition faction is anxious to knight Hawkins
so that they can kill him properly in tournament. To this
end there is a farcical, warp speed knighting ceremony
that kids just adore. If any scene can cause them to utter
such unthinkable blashpemies as,"This guy is almost as funny
as Jim Carrey!" this will be the scene that does it.
Yea, verily, yea.
Angela Lansbury is the bored, restless Princess
Gwendolyn the Fair, who dallies with Hawkins to escape
an unwanted betrothal. And back in 1956, the comfy auntie
from "Murder, she wrote" was what is generally called a
But Hawkins true love is fellow resistance operative
Maid Jean, played by luscious, warbly-voiced Glynnis Johns.
Cornered by an amorously inclined King Roderick, Jean
cleverly extricates herself by referring to the recent deaths
of her entire family from the dreaded Breckenridge's Scourge,
impishly recalling how,"I saw their swollen, twisted,
pain-ridden bodies writhing on the floor in agony. But let
us not spoil this moment. Kiss me, Sire!" For the rest of
the picture he recoils automatically at the sight of her."
The tournament is a sort of David and Goliath encounter,
only with silk pennants and cup bearing pages. Hawkins is
not optimistic about his chances of prevailing against the
"...grim, grisly, gruesome Sir Griswold" played by burly
Robert Middleton. But the sorceress levels the playing field
considerably by putting a pellet of poison in the chalice
from the palace. Or was it the flagon with the dragon...?
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Savoy Grill of rock video DVD's, 29 Nov. 2004
The only complaint I have about this DVD is that the irresistible
combination of witty, inventive, diverse music videos and three
hours of bonus features (interviews, documentaries, concert footage) has completely spoiled me for the dvd's being put out
by other artists!
I didn't watch much MTV growing up, so most of the videos were
completely new to me. In the utterly beguiling and aptly named "A
kind of magic" an elegantly caped magician (Freddie Mercury) takes over a grand old Victorian playhouse and transforms the
three indigent gentlemen (Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon) sheltering within into a rock band. Next up is "I want it all", an insistent, pounding manifesto of impatient entitlement. 1984's(!)"Radio ga-ga" is an ambitious spectacle
that intercuts footage from the classic film "Metropolis" with shots of the guys navigating a futuristic cityscape in a flying
car and leading a large rally in a raised fist, double handclap
salute that was immediately requisitioned by concert attendees
"Las palabras de amour" is Brian's gracious gracias
to Latin America for their unwavering support of Queen from the
earliest days to the present. And the justly celebrated video
for John's exhilaratingly adaptable "I want to break free" offers
the band in deliciously droll drag. Roger accomplishes the nigh
impossible by upstaging Freddie(gasp!) as a schoolgirl Lolita. The middle section has Freddie channeling Nijinsky with some
alarmingly underfed ballet dancers.
Brian's hauntingly beautiful and ethereal paean to undying love,"Who wants to live forever?" becomes a beautiful and
ethereal Queen video. Hundreds of wavering candles give it the look of an invisible cathedral.
"It's a hard life" is a misleadingly downbeat title
for a splendid life and love affirming ballad sung by Mercury with his customary strength and lyric sensibility. In their audio commentary Roger and Brian are ruefully diplomatic about
the lavishly opulent video, but I rather like it. There are distinct echoes of the classic 1964 film "Masque of the Red Death", itself a stylish homage to Ingmar Bergman. And Freddie
treats us to a devilishly impenitent grin at the end.
I absolutely love "Hammer to fall", a mesmerizing,
excoriating, take no prisoners warning bell of impending doom.
The lighting rig (a Queen trademark) is gorgeous,-at times the
band seems bathed in golden fire. This video looks as good as it
sounds, which is saying a lot.
"Invisible man" has Queen popping out of a kid's video game to perform in his room. Where can I get that game? Some interesting camerawork on a circling dolly. "Breakthru"
has them in a Keatonesque vein jamming on top of a speeding train. This was no back projection trickery, they really DID it.
"The Miracle" is another hopeful and optimistic Freddie penned
ode, and the video is a quirkily irresistible gem, with twelve year old lookalikes uncannily impersonating Queen. The real band
emerge for the final verse and play alongside their "clones".
"Under pressure" has Queen, David Bowie and Nosferatu in
an unforgettable triptych, and "Princes of the universe" incorporates exciting scenes from the film "Highlander". The denouement has a claymore-brandishing Chris Lambert stepping out of the movie to interact with the band on a vast sound stage.
The communally composed opus "One vision", inspired by
Queen's legendary Live Aid triumph, is the centerpiece of "Video Hits II", just as "Bohemian Rhapsody" was for the first collection.It's a relentless, seething, sense-stirring invocation
of universal brotherhood. And since Disc Two gives us both a thirty minute "Making of..." documentary and an extended double length version of the video, we actually get three visions of
"One vision", which is perfectly fine by me.
Buy and enjoy.