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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
Charles Laughton did a badly edited biographical film of Captain Kidd in 1945 although his performance as the cockney captain with aspirations to class is memorable. We don't often get a second crack at roles when they don't become mega-hits, but Laughton got it and made the most of it.
Laughton got one here although he had to take on Abbott and Costello as co-stars. But I will say that the distinguished Mr. Laughton more than held his own with those two burlesque comics. Especially when you consider that his co-stars names were in the title of the film.
Of course it was fans of A&C who went to see the film, but you get your audiences from where they come. Check Laughton's deadpan face when he's doing the old handcuff gag where Costello thinks he's got Captain Kidd cuffed behind his back and helpless. They did the same routine on their television show with Gordon Jones as Mike the Cop and the results are just as hilarious.
Speaking of the television show, Hillary Brooke from the cast of their show is also on hand as Laughton's rival, Captain Bonnie. Fran Warren and Bill Shirley have a great pair of voices, too bad the songs that they got to sing in the film aren't worthy of them.
Abbott and Costello were on a downward slide of their careers, but this film does hearken back to their early days at Universal when they were grinding out a whole bunch of comedy gems.
But the thing that has always gotten me about this film is the way Charles Laughton just dove right in to the slapstick spirit of this movie. Costello was known for not getting along with several of his co-stars, many of them had less than kind things to say. But according to observers, Laughton got along just fine with the boys.
You can tell by the side splitting results.
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