Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

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They’re Raising Cain on the BOUNDING MAIN!

I never got the allure of Abbott and Costello, so I’m perhaps not the best person to gauge them by. However, the review copy of the new WAC release Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd from 1952 intrigued me. For starters, it’s a bit of a pirate film perhaps, at least if you go by the title. Also it features the great Charles Laughton, so it must be ok, right?

Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd is a bit of a rarity in the Abbott and Costello pantheon, having not been available on DVD prior. Perhaps this should have been a tip off, for although I never was a big fan of the duo, they do have a legion of quite devoted fans. So why the delay?

By 1952 Abbott and Costello had run their course for the most part. Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd shows the boys in perhaps one of their most lifeless onscreen appearances. Charles Laughton actually is the highlight as he plays against type and in making a bit of fun at himself becomes the highlight of the show. He’s still made an ass of, but he’s got more comedic range than you would expect.

The headliners, whose names, as usual, are in the title, seem listless, bored, and frankly, tired. Granted, the material is not the greatest and may contribute to the obvious slight misses in timing. Even at the absurdly short running time of only 70 minutes, it seems like the film never ends. The bits barely coalesce into a plot and- unfortunately- aren’t funny. I lost count of the musical numbers which don’t add much to the proceedings except add to the already meager content on screen.

Now it is a color picture, of which Abbott and Costello did very few. However, it isn’t lush Technicolor but the cheaper and less vibrant cinecolor process. The colors are pretty faded and washed out on my original copy (from TCM, I believe).

What WAC has done is remaster this film, which has resulted in a significantly better image than on my original copy. It still isn’t Technicolor, but is much more watchable and the colors are a bit crisper. From the WAC discs I’ve seen touting ‘remastered’ this one definitely shows the results of this effort quite favorably.

If you are a huge Abbott and Costello fan, of course you’ve already purchased this or have on your calendar to do so. If not, I’d tread carefully on this one. The reason this film hasn’t been out before is fairly easy to see – there simply isn’t much meat on the bone. Ultimately, great presentation, but weak content.

I still appreciate the effort in making films like this available however and the remastering is an added plus. What would really be good – and which I’ve read is starting to coalesce, is for there to be a central source to search MOD films.

This would enable fans to easily find which films are available regardless of studio. Now we have to remember which studios have MOD programs and what sites they use to go to market.

Available for purchase exclusively at the Warner Archives Collection.

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