For Reel

Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)
December 6, 2013, 6:17 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Charles Lamont
2 Stars
Abbott and Costello Meet Captain KiddAs bad movies go, Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd has its share of delightful moments, and they all come from Charles Laughton’s performance as the titular Kidd. It’s not that it’s a particularly good performance, but rather it is enormously satisfying to watch the great Laughton try his hand at slapstick. Unlike a few of Abbott and Costello’s previous co-stars in genre spoofs (such as Boris Karloff), Laughton was more than keen to work with the comedy duo–he reportedly insisted to producer Alex Gottlieb that he wanted to learn how to do a double-take from Lou Costello, and during the production he gladly did his own pratfalls. Despite the benefit of his unusual casting, that Laughton is in on the joke compromises the picture in some ways. The best “Meet” pictures were played straight by everyone but the comedy duo, who interrupted the genres they were spoofing like forces of nature. Even if Laughton’s eager comedic performance is not well-suited for the production, however, excluding him the film would be unwatchable. It struggles desperately to meet its meager seventy minute running time, with a handful of painful musical numbers serving as filler to segue from one tired gag to another. Beyond Laughton, cinematographer Stanley Cortez deserves a mention (who shot The Magnificent Ambersons and would soon shoot Laughton’s Night of the Hunger), however the cheap Super CineColor process is responsible for dull, pastel colors that make the already depressing affair look washed-out.

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