Rocky and Puddin' Head are waiting tables at an inn on Tortuga when a letter given them by Lady Jane for delivery to Martingale gets switched with a treasure map. Kidd and Bonney kidnap them to Skull Island to find said treasure.
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Two hapless waiters in a tavern on the Spanish Main play cupids between aristocratic Lady Jane and tavern co-worker Bruce Martindale, but the two bumpkins mix-up a love letter with Captain Kidd's treasure map of Skull Island. Kidd's treasure is claimed by Captain Anne Bonney, and she accompanies the notorious pirate to the island with the boys and Bruce, who have been shanghaied and the captured Lady Jane. Written by
Bud and Lou only made two color films--this and "Jack and the Beanstalk"--and for some reason the color on both of them is terrible, with this the worst of the two. For some unfathomable reason it was shot in shoddy Cinecolor, which was a cheap alternative to Technicolor developed mostly so low-budget producers could afford to make color films (Technicolor was too expensive for those smaller outfits). However, since this film was made by Warner Bros. you have to wonder why the studio didn't shoot it in Technicolor instead of cheap, muddy Cinecolor; it's not like Warners couldn't afford it! Anyway, the lousy photography detracts from what could have been, with a few improvements, a much more enjoyable film. It's good to see Hillary Brooke in color; the miserable quality of the photography can't hide the fact that she's a stunningly beautiful woman, with an icy, regal sexiness reminiscent of Grace Kelly or Eva Marie Saint. However, the romantic subplot between her and the terminally bland Bill Shirley is a complete bust, as the two have no chemistry whatsoever and you find yourself wondering what a babe like Hillary is doing with a slug like him. In addition, everything comes to a screeching halt so they can throw in some interminable, and third-rate, musical numbers. The picture would have been better off with fewer of them. In fact, it would have been better off with NONE of them.
That being said, however, this is still an enjoyable film, although far from prime A&C. The boys are starting to show their age, and their timing is a little off in spots, but they still know how to wring laughs out of a script as lame as this one. Besides, Charles Laughton is really fun to watch. It's said that he agreed to do this film because he thought Lou Costello was one of the industry's best physical comics; he had always wanted to do slapstick, and figured if you're gonna do it, learn from the best. He acquits himself quite well, too, even though every so often you can see where he tries a bit too hard; some of his bits look like they were precisely rehearsed, which they no doubt were, but good comedy isn't supposed to look like it was rehearsed. Still, he seems to be having a whale of a good time, and considering that he had never done anything like this before, does a very impressive job.
As I said, this is hardly Bud & Lou's best, but it's not among their worst ("Dance With Me Henry" holds that honor) or even their not particularly good ("A&C Go to Mars"). The two best things about it, besides Bud & Lou, are Laughton and Hillary Brooke; she's truly gorgeous, and it's easy to see why Costello used her as his love interest in the team's TV series. If you haven't seen this film before, it's worth checking out.
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