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Captain Kidd (1945)

The unhistorical adventures of pirate Captain Kidd revolve around treasure and treachery.

Director:

Rowland V. Lee

Writers:

Norman Reilly Raine (screenplay), Robert N. Lee (original story)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Laughton ... Capt. William Kidd
Randolph Scott ... Adam Mercy / Adam Blayne
Barbara Britton ... Lady Anne Dunstan
Reginald Owen ... Cary Shadwell
John Carradine ... Orange Povy
Gilbert Roland ... Jose Lorenzo
John Qualen ... Bart Blivens
Sheldon Leonard ... Cyprian Boyle
William Farnum ... Capt. Rawson
Henry Daniell ... King William III
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

pirate | king | diamond | pearls | emerald | See All (76) »

Taglines:

Adventure on the high seas! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1945 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Le capitaine Kidd See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Four years before this movie was made, Charles Laughton co-starred in It Started with Eve (1941), In that film his character, Jonathan Reynolds Sr., is said to have been born two centuries too late. The assistant newspaper editor comments that he could have been "Captain Kidd himself". See more »

Goofs

When firing ships' cannons, gun crews would use a slow match, not a flaming brand. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Capt. William Kidd: Stab me, there's a pretty sight!
Orange Povey: It'll be prettier still when the fire reaches the magazine, Captain.
Cyprian Boyle: Pity though. Lots of stout seamen among 'em. They've been with us a long time.
Capt. William Kidd: We can none of live forever, Mr. Boyle. Dead men don't talk.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Roan Group DVD version, which comes from an excellent print, is sadly missing one of the best scenes in the film. In the scene Charles Laughton has trouble dressing for dinner on the ship, he is chastised for his hair-do by his valet, and then gets confused with his manners during dinner. We also learn a little more about Randolph Scott's character in this delightful scene. It can be found on the Australian VHS release from Force Video. See more »

Connections

Featured in Downriver (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Rule Britannia
(uncredited)
Lyrics by James Thomson
Music by Thomas Augustine Arne
Heard when toasting the merchant ship and when the ships meet on the sea
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Fun but absurd
16 May 2003 | by ukulelekingSee all my reviews

A classic example of a pirate melodrama, this production purports to be based on the life of the historic Captain Kidd (played with campy, eye-waggling mannerisms by Laughton). There are few pirate cliches that don't find their way into Norman Reilly Raine's overwrought script - buried treasures, kidnapped maidens, English nobles masquerading as buccaneers. Much of it is unintentionally silly: It is, for example, impossible to take the hale, beefy, Virginia-twanged Randolph Scott as either an English nobleman or a pirate. Scott claims two friends aboard Kidd's pirate ship, both strangely effete, deferential characters: Another pirate, who acts as Scott's valet, and Kidd's own valet, who spends most of the movie surreptitiously assisting Scott in his scheming against the pirate captain. Kidd's companions, by comparison, are swaggering caricatures, and Kidd spends most of the movie scheming to dispatch them in one of the film's strangest images: Laughton, huddled over a small book, jotting down names or crossing them out, muttering to himself and cackling.

Much of this is good fun, and some of the cinematography is gorgeous - even by today's standards, the use of miniatures and trick camerawork creates a convincing illusion of ships at battle on roiling seas. But the story is so far from history that there seems to be no good reason to name Laughton after the real Captain Kidd, a bumbler whose short career as a pirate and humiliating death was little but a series of bizarre travesties. But the script is awkward and choppy, and many of the set pieces are strangely cramped and stagey, as though this were a theatrical production rather than a film. Ultimately, the true pleasure in watching the film comes from Laughton's peculiar performance, which is similarly theatrical, as though it were an oversized clown act from a London stage transferred to film. He plays Kidd without nuance, telegraphng the captain's bloated greed and amorality as though these were comical personal eccentricities. The closest the screen has since produced to Laughton's outre characterization is Harvey Fierstein's Pirate King character in 1997's Kull the Conqueror, which is pure camp.

Laughton was, in fact, gay, and though this fact is never made overt in Captain Kidd, there is some surprising subtext. Two scenes in particular strike contemporary eyes as having implicitly camp sensibilities - one in which Laughton sniffingly dismisses any interest in female companionship, and another scene in which Scott, a legitimate beefcake, shares a bath with his valet, both happily scrubbing each other while surrounded by hundreds of semi-clad pirates. Yo ho ho.


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