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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
I taped this off UK TV in 1988 the washed out condition of the print even then made it look as if it could be from 300 years ago, but recently seeing the even more degraded copy TCM US is showing made me think it really was! How did this get into such a state the wobbly cheap colour and choppy copies from multiple TV dupes haven't helped to be sure, but it all makes it a bit of an ordeal to sit through without rose-tinted glasses on.
At the cutely named Death's Head Tavern Bud & Lou unwittingly join forces with Charles Laughton playing Captain Kidd on the track of a treasure island much fun is made of the map of Skull Island continually getting mixed up with Lou's supposed My Darling Darling Darling love letter. Add a deliberately devilish Leif Erickson as a sidekick for Laughton and elegant Hilary Brook as a pantomime Captain Bonney for something good to look at and you have the main crew. There's plenty of lusty non-pc songs, maybe too many but some not too bad and all well sung, my favourite being the romantic Speak To Me sung by the corny romantic leads on the pirate ship. It was the 2nd of the two films A&C did for Warners in 1952 (this was Bud's choice, Jack was Lou's), and was amazingly successful noisy slapstick at the time; the reason given by Laughton as to why he accepted the role was to learn how to do double takes from Costello. He generally hammed it up nicely and he and the boys in particular seemed to enjoy themselves, but it all seemed a bit too laboured at times.
For anyone new who might be interested in A&C this is not the film to start with, unless you're under 10 years old. And yet I still end up watching this jolly nonsense every five years or so, never mind the grotty condition.
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