DANNY KAYE: Try To Remember!

If you’ve viewed THE COURT JESTER (1955), you’ll know the following tongue twister.

“The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle.

The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true”.

Mildred Natwick as Griselda in THE COURT JESTER is trying to help the bumbling ‘Hawkins’ ( Danny Kaye) who is due to fight a duel with Robert Middleton. Before the joust, the two opponents will drink a toast.

Just as Danny tries to remember which vessel to drink from,  the chalice from the palace is broken and replaced with a flagon!

So, Griselda speaks quickly again:

The pellet with the poison’s  in the flagon with the dragon. 

The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.”!


Mildred Natwick, Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns.


Danny gets into his armour.

Are you listening? I am not speaking a foreign language .


Robert Middleton

Danny’s opponent, Sir Griswold. Small wonder he agrees to the vessel with the pestle ( or the flagon with the dragon.)

Sir Griswold’s servant finds out about the poison and tells his master.


They both try to pick up the right vessel, but eventually neither drinks the wine when the King (Cecil Parker) tell them to get  on with the joust.

Danny’s suit of armour has been struck by lightning before he puts it on and becomes magnetised. Anything metal is sticking  to him.  The ensuing fight on horseback is so funny.

Presumably the film’s writers/directors, Melvin Frank and Norman Panama wrote the well remembered (except by Danny) lines .

Danny also has a final  confrontation with Basil Rathbone. (Basil’s last film sword fight.)



How can Danny triumph over these two villains, Basil Rathbone and Michael Pate. But of course he will!


Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns



Angela Lansbury, Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns.


On the set.

Visitor David Burns, Peter Shaw (Angela Lansbury’s husband), Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, visitor Gloria De Haven, Robert Middleton.


A great spoof on the costume swashbuckling films popular in the 30s, 40s and 50s.


Back In 1939, Bob Hope starred in a comedy, NEVER SAY DIE, which has a scene and dialogue with some similarity to the Court Jester scene.

Bob has been forced into a duel with Alan Mowbray. Martha Raye tries to help Bob and tells him one pistol with have a blank.

She says, “There’s  a cross on the muzzle of the pistol with the bullet, and a nick on the handle of the pistol with a blank.”

Of course Bob can’t remember the right order.

6 responses »

  1. Hi,

    I thought you’d be interested in this bit of Trivia re: “The Vessel with the pestle”.

    Bob Hope and Martha Rate made a film called “Never say Die” in 1939.

    Jim Kason Ising2unow@aol.com

    At the climax of the movie, Bob Hope is challenged to a duel, and Martha Raye helps him by bribing a man to leave one pistol unloaded,

    and she marks which one it is. She then tells Bob Hope which one it is and which one it is not, and it is a tongue twister, and his rival overhears, and they both try to repeat the phrase that will let them know which gun is which. ( “There’s a nick on the handle of the pistol with the bullet, and a cross on the muzzle of the pistol with the blank.” ) If this sounds very familiar, it is because it was “borrowed” virtually in its entirety for the classic Danny Kaye movie, The Court Jester (it was improved on and done better in “The Court Jester”, but it still was clearly stolen)!

  2. Vienna, THE COURT JESTER is one of the funniest movie spoofs ever made, as far as I’m concerned. A perfect cast lead by the one and only Danny Kaye. No one can do word patter better than Danny.

    Thank you for another wonderful trip down memory lane.

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