Nicole has no job and is several weeks behind with her rent. Her solution to her problem is to try and snare a rich husband. Enlisting the help of her friend Gloria and the maitre'd at a ... See full summary »
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
In this unhistorical account, Capt. William Kidd is already a clever, ruthless pirate when, in 1699, he tricks the king into commissioning him as escort for a treasure ship from India. He enlists a crew of pardoned cutthroats...and Orange Povey, whom Kidd once abandoned on a reef and hoped never to see again. Of course, Kidd's intentions are treacherous. But there's more to gunner Adam Mercy than meets the eye. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Anyone who's thinking that they will get the story of Captain William Kidd is in for one disappointing viewing. This is not the story of the real William Kidd who in fact some say, may not even have been a pirate, merely a British privateer. There's some controversy raging to this day about whether he left some buried treasure in and around the New York City area. In fact colonial New York is where the captain's base of operations was, though New York gets the barest mention in the beginning of the film.
This version of Kidd has him as a cockney with a burning ambition to rise in class. Actually Kidd was born in Scotland in either Aberdeen or Dundee depending on what source you use. He's a clever rogue, after sinking a king's ship and then accusing that noble captain of piracy.
Giving that story to King William III of Orange, Kidd gets a ship and he picks a crew of cutthroats and sets sail to do more plunder.
Captain Kidd suffers from two faults mainly. It's badly edited, the film clearly begins at a point where some previous action took place explaining some of what we see. Probably something of New York where Kidd began his career. A whole lot of things are left up in the air because of this. Secondly, Randolph Scott is horribly miscast in a part that Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. should have played. My guess is that none of these gentlemen could be secured for a loan out from their studios. Even Cornel Wilde or Louis Hayward would have been better.
But what enjoyment you get in the film comes from Charles Laughton's florid performance as Captain Kidd. Basically what he's done is taken his Horace Prin character from White Woman and set him to sea. Laughton's overacting is nicely counterbalanced by Reginald Owen as a valet he's hired and takes to sea to teach him the fine art of being a gentleman. Laughton overacts outrageously, but I'm sure he realized that without it, the film would have been dull as dishwater.
Gilbert Roland, John Carradine, and Sheldon Leonard are all part of Laughton's gang of thieves. Barbara Britton looks properly demure as a heroine caught up among them. And Henry Daniell, the man with the built in sneer in his voice, for once plays a good guy as King William.
Charles Laughton fans will love Captain Kidd. And Laughton was even more outrageous when he reprised Captain Kidd when he met up with Abbott and Costello. But that's a whole other movie.
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