The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd (1953) Poster

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A minor serial from the twilight of the genre
dinky-416 December 2003
Though it came at a time when interest in serials had nearly reached the point of extinction, the production values of "Captain Kidd" look a bit better than one might expect. They're "modest" rather than "cheap."

The main faults of this serial lie in areas other than the budget. Its script, for example, lacks a compelling storyline and tends to drift from incident to incident without a clear, overriding purpose. Since Captain Kidd turns out to be a "good guy," the script also fails to provide us with a suitably-hissable villain, and the cliff-hangers at the conclusions of its chapters lack imagination and style.

What's more, Richard Crane makes a woefully inadequate hero. He's not particularly attractive, looks a bit overweight, and has virtually no charm or charisma.

Fans of the multi-chapter serial may find this of mild interest but those first-timers wishing to sample the genre are advised to skip it in favor of, say, "Spy Smasher."

For the record, here are the titles of the 15 chapters: (1)Pirate vs. Man-of-War (2)The Fatal Shot (3)Attacked by Captain Kidd (4)Captured by Captain Kidd (5)Mutiny on the Adventure (6)Murder on the Main Deck (7)Prisoners of War (8)Mutiny Unmasked (9)Pirate against Pirate (10)Shot from the Parapet (11)The Flaming Fortress (12)Before the Firing Squad (13)In the Hands of the Mohawks (14)Pirate Gold (15)Captain Kidd's Last Chance.
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The Great Adventures Of Captain Kidd, King Of Pirates {Chapter 1: Pirate Vs. Man-Of-War} (Derwin Abrahams and Charles S. Gould, 1953) **
Bunuel19768 August 2008
Only the first episode of this 15-chapter serial has been included on Columbia’s “Icons Of Adventure” 2-Disc Set…which is just as well, since watching 25 minutes of this Sam Katzman cheapie is tolerable enough – but six hours of it would have been positively mind-numbing!

The historical figure of Captain Kidd has been popular with film-makers (he was twice played by Charles Laughton, for instance), particularly during the heyday of the swashbuckler genre; here, he’s played by a younger, leaner actor and is depicted as a one-dimensional villain (at least, judging solely by this first episode). In fact, his brief appearances throughout are seen via flashbacks recounted to the hero (appointed by the British Admiralty to infiltrate Kidd’s gang) by former associates of the notorious pirate. Incidentally, the little seafaring action we get to see is mostly comprised of stock footage – amusingly accompanied by the occasional studio-shot insert of Kidd shouting orders to his men!

To get back to what I said initially, I can’t imagine sitting through this in its entirety (and I usually enjoy vintage serials, mind you – actually, I’ve a handful of them still to go through)…given that even a mere sampling of it proved nothing more than utterly bland and instantly forgettable!
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