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
The real Anne Bonny was Irish (born Anne Cormac), not English like Hillary Brooke. Although Bonny's name is usually spelled without an "e," it sometimes is spelled (as in this film's cast list) as "Bonney." See more »
I have just finished watching this film 30 seconds ago and I must make a few comments.
Abbott and Costello on the High Seas in full color. The High Seas: a good idea. The full color: a bad idea. The cinematography ends up being grainy and the color washed out. In the end, this detracts from the film and actually makes some of the gags fall flat, simply from being distracted. As far as A+C are concerned, this is a slightly below par outing. The gags aren't that great to begin with, and there are really no scenes of the characteristic A+C bantering. Not that it is terrible, mind you. But the overall performance is subpar.
What is truly fun to watch is Charles Laughton. Admittedly, I am a Charles Laughton fan. I think he has largely been overlooked for what a great actor he was, and it is rather unfortunate that his directing output was limited to the one masterpiece, Night of the Hunter. What is so wonderful about his performance? The fact that the filmmakers decided to make it humorous.
If you think about it, Charles Laughton cast in the role of Captain Kidd really screams for a Kidd-cum-Bligh from Mutiny of the Bounty. I expected Laughton to spend the entire film shouting and talking tough in that clipped manner that he used for Captain Bligh. And while there was plenty of shouting and tough-talking, there were plenty of moments of comedy on the part of Captain Kidd. It seems that the filmmakers, instead of being completely serious, tried to go for the gag whenever possible. I love that.
It also shows off the comedic possibilities of Charles Laughton that went almost completely unnoticed during his career. Only every once in a great while did they manifest themselves, such as his wonderful performance in Witness for the Prosecution. It is rather unfortunate that many great actors got pseudo-typecast in serious roles and never got to explore their comedic talents in full. Such as Bogart, who got very few comedic roles but shined in the ones he did have (such as Sabrina and We're No Angels). Why is that these great actors, while well-renowned for drama, could and should have excelled at comedy? Because great actors excel at the most critical element of comedy:
Timing is essential to all comedy and they had it. This shows itself most in snappy banter. Just as Humphrey Bogart was able to banter well with William Holden in Sabrina, Charles Laughton banters well in brief flashes with Lou Costello. Take the scene where Lou draws a mustache on the portrait of Captain Kidd, only to have it roll away while Lou turns and the real Captain Kidd appears.
Lou: I could've sworn I drew a mustache on that picture
Kidd: Well you didn't
Lou: I didn't?
Is this exchange something that Captain Bligh would've done? Absolutely not. But they did it here. And text nowhere near does justice to the splendid timing of this exchange, though sadly it only took 2 seconds of film. There are a few other brief moments like this that demonstrate what a comedic talent Charles Laughton could have been. And there are moments of slapstick as well. When Charles Laughton does a little sailor dance after what seemed a victory over Lou, I nearly hurt myself laughing. It was such a silly and wonderfully outrageous thing to do.
Don't get me wrong, this is not to say that Charles Laughton's performance was a comedic gem, no. For the most part is was bellowing and shouting that you would expect. But the fact that the filmmakers did not take it that seriously throughout the entire film made it wonderful to me. In every movie, there are moments for each character where they are faced with a choice: do I go for the serious portrayal, or do I go for the gag? It was my pleasure that with Charles Laughton's mostly serious role, when these choices arose, he went for the gag. And I loved it.
So, overall, this film is a meh. But if you do decide to watch this film, (and why not?) then keep an eye out for Charles Laughton and I'm sure, like me, you'll wish he had done more comedy.
P.S. I would also like to go on the record as stating that Hillary Brooke is, indeed, hot. Actually, she's not just hot. She's HAWT.
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