Hey folks, Valkor here. As a kid, I dreaded Sundays with a passion – school was the following day, I had to wake up early to go to church, and on top of it all there were no cartoons anywhere to be found. But what I lacked in animated comedy, I made up for it by delving deep into live-action slapstick comedies of such greats as Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, and my personal favorite – Abbott and Costello. And the folks at Warner Home knows how great they are by inducting into the Warner Archive Collection "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd". Personally speaking… I would have chosen something else.
"Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" is a rowdy, musical adventure that finds Rocky and Puddin (Abbott and Costello respectively) setting sail with Captain Kidd to find a lost treasure; the duo fall upon the map when attempting to deliver a message from Lady Jane (Fran Warren) to her lover Bruce Martingale (Bill Shirley). Once at the tavern, Rocky and Puddin end up working for the tavern, serving Captain Kidd (Charles Laughton) and getting the maps switched with the letter. Rocky uses this to his advantage and request that Kidd take the two with him and his crew for part of the treasure in exchange for the map. Kidd agrees and away they go.
Through it all Kidd tries to get the map back, but he keeps ending up with the love letter that Rocky and Puddin were to deliver to Bruce. Somehow Bonney (Hillary Brooke), a female pirate who was dining with Kidd in the beginning, ends up with the letter, thinks Puddin is the one who wrote it for her and falls in love with him, complicating what is already a complicated situation. All the while Kidd captures another ship; this one belonging to Lady Jane.
To round it all up, the two ships end up on Skull Island (where the treasure is buried), Kidd plans to kill Rocky and Puddin, Captain Bonney isn't having any of it, she and her crew face off against Kidd who ends up her prisoner, the treasure is found, a happy ending is to be had. The end.
Now if that mish-mash of a synopsis confused you, then think how I felt having sat through it all. Be forewarned, this breakdown isn't gonna be pretty. Ok it won't be that ugly, I mean it is Abbot and Costello for crying out loud.
For one thing "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" is a short film – 70 minutes overall, which is a good thing because a film such as this, you really don't wanna invest any more time than needed. While I found the comedic stylings of Abbott and Costello a bit subdued in this film, I still enjoyed their antics and physical comedy. I gotta give thumbs up to Charles Laughton as Captain Kidd – he's loud, obnoxious, and such a joy to watch. You can tell he was having a good time with the role. And it shows because he puts on a wonderful performance; if he hadn't over-hammed it up, I would say he's actually better than Abbott and Costello. And that's about as far as I can go, because now we move on to...
Remember I said the film ran about 70 minutes, and it's probably the longest 70 minutes I ever had to sit through. Again, I'm grateful that it didn't go on any longer, because I'll be honest, I wouldn't have made it through the whole thing had that been the case. The musical numbers are uninspiring, the pacing is just atrocious, and the Cinecolor used for the film looks muddy – and this is remastered mind you! Oh, and the story is a convoluted mess! How many times can Puddin and Kidd get the maps switched only to end up with the wrong map - each and every time (Puddin wants the letter and Kidd wants the map)? And it just goes on and on from there with no clear course. Stuff just happens!
No matter what, I will always hold a place in my heart for Abbott and Costello. And while "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" won't rank as one of my favorites, I'm sure there're fans out there who will treasure this film more than me. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be "Abbott and Costello Meets the Invisible Man" (or any of the films where they meet the universal movie monsters), because those were just crazy fun! With that said, out of TOV 5 stars, I give "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" 2 staaaaaarrrrs. Now avast ya scurvy sea dogs, we're off in search of better booty to plunder!