The evil King Roderick I (Cecil Parker) has massacred the royal family and seized the throne. But a royal infant has survived and is being protected by the Black Fox (Edward Ashley). The Fox orders former carnival entertainer Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye) and the beautiful Maid Jean (Glynis Johns) to take the child to safety. However, when they meet Giacomo (John Carradine), the King's new jester, Jean convinces Hubert to take Giacomo's place in order to steal a key to a secret passage from the King. What neither of them knows, is that Giacomo is an assassin, hired by Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone) to kill his rivals in the royal court. Meanwhile, Roderick plans to form an alliance with Sir Griswold (Robert Middleton) by having him marry Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury). Unfortunately, the King orders his men to round up 'the fairest wenches in the land' to participate in the wedding celebration and Jean is brought to the castle with the infant concealed in her cart. Desperate to avoid marrying Griswold, Gwendolyn threatens to commit suicide but her handmaiden, Griselda (Mildred Natwick), convinces her that Hubert is her true love coming to rescue her. To make this happen, Griselda puts a spell on Hubert, transforming him into a dashing figure and ordering him to sweep Gwendolyn off her feet. Unfortunately, this means he doesn't recognize Jean when she tries to pass him the stolen key. It also means that he agrees to assassinate Ravenhurst's rivals. However, when Griselda releases Hubert from her control, he doesn't remember any of it. Fortunately, Griselda poisons Ravenhurst's rivals and maintains Hubert's masquerade. Hubert is still in trouble though because Griswold shows up to marry Gwendolyn and she announces that she loves Hubert, insulting Griswold and endangering the alliance. To make matters worse, Ravenhurst learns that Hubert is not Giacomo and jumps to the conclusion that he is really the Black Fox. Ravenhurst then convinces the King to knight Hubert so that Griswold can kill him in a duel and save the alliance. Meanwhile, Jean has gotten the key from the King and sent it to the Black Fox so he can attack the castle but a collapse in the secret passage has left it mostly blocked, forcing the Fox to call on Hubert's midget friends for help. Back at the castle, Hubert is able to defeat Griswold, sparing his life, but Ravenhurst captures the royal infant and reveals Hubert and Jean as spies. Luckily, just as the King is about to have Hubert and Jean executed, the castle is overrun with midgets. While the midgets subdue the castle guards, Hubert, convinced by Griselda that he's a master swordsman, is able to defeat Ravenhurst. Griswold returns with his knights to save Roderick but when he sees the infant's royal birthmark, he bows down and swears allegiance.
Type of mind control: Magic spell
Mind control scenes:
There are two main mind control sequences in this movie. The first is when Griselda puts Hubert into a magical trance and sends him to woo Princess Gwendolyn. The spell is activated and deactivated by the snap of fingers and Hubert is taken in and out of trance repeatedly throughout the sequence. The second sequence is when Griselda uses her magic to convince Hubert that he is a great swordsman so he can defeat Ravenhurst. Again, Hubert is taken in and out of trance repeatedly.
out of 5
The mind control in this movie is well portrayed, with Danny Kaye doing an excellent job of transforming from a bumbling buffoon into a dashing hero and back again. Unfortunately, the mind control is relatively limited and not used as extensively as it could have been. For example, if Griselda could convince Hubert that he's a great swordsman to allow him to defeat Ravenhurst, why didn't she do the same thing when he was fighting Griswold? However, if you want a funny movie and don't care that the mind control is used strictly for laughs, then this movie is for you.