Movie Details
Recommendation

Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

 
 

Dud Abbott and Costello

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

So my first Abbott and Costello movie and by the sounds of it I couldn't have picked a worse movie to start with as the general opinion about "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" is one of negativity. I can sort of appreciate why because if all Abbott and Costello movies were as uneven as this then there is no way they would have achieved legendary status. "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" is sporadic at best with visual humour which seems to be imitating the Three Stooges and very little sharp banter, but the worst of it is the slim storyline which is not even a vehicle for the humour or the musical numbers which pad it out to just 70 minutes.

Rocky (Bud Abbott) and Puddin' Head (Lou Costello) work in the rough and ready Death's Head Tavern where Captain Kidd (Charles Laughton - Spartacus) dines with the sexy Captain Bonney (Hillary Brooke - The Man Who Knew Too Much). A mishap with a letter which Lady Jane (Fran Warren) asked the duo to pass on to Bruce Martingale (Bill Shirley) leads to Rocky and Puddin' Head ending up on Captain Kidd's ship and heading to Skull Island where the Captain hopes to discover buried treasure.

Charles Laughton and Hillary Brooke in Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

If you strip "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" down to just the actual storyline, which is basically a mix up between a letter and treasure map leading to the treasure hunt on Skull Island there is at most 15 minutes worth. It has a feel of an idea which would have been better as a sketch on a comedy show than the basis for a movie and it is barely a vehicle for everything else which goes on during the movie. And talking of everything else well I reckon if you add up all the musical scenes as we have various songs they probably last longer than the actual story.

What this ends up meaning is that the majority of "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" is just visual gags with most coming from Lou Costello as he is at the butt end of a lot of slapstick. It feels very Three Stooges like which in some ways is okay because the slapstick no matter how simple is still fun. But at the same time there seems to be barely any connection between Abbott and Costello and it almost seems like Abbott is hardly in the movie.

Now aside from Abbott and Costello we also have Hillary Brooke as Capt. Bonney and to be honest Brooke is a pleasant distraction but also a remarkably stiff one who looks like she isn't enjoying making the movie. On the other hand you have Charles Laughton as Capt. Kidd and it seems like Laughton is in seventh heaven having a laugh with the comedy duo. You almost get a sense that Laughton was a fan of the comedy duo and just enjoyed being in their company and going over the top with his role.

What this all boils down to is that even as an Abbott and Costello novice I can tell that "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" not only doesn't work but is also not a good example of why they were so popular. It's uneven and a bit of a slog but if you are fan of simple visual humour such as people being whacked around the head by a spade it is slightly amusing.

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