Captain Kidd (film)

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Captain Kidd
Movie poster
Directed byRowland V. Lee
Produced byBenedict Bogeaus
Screenplay byNorman Reilly Raine
Story byRobert N. Lee
StarringCharles Laughton
Randolph Scott
Barbara Britton
Music byWerner Janssen
CinematographyArchie Stout
Edited byCharles Odds
Benedict Bogeaus Productions
Captain Kidd Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • November 22, 1945 (1945-11-22) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Captain Kidd

Captain Kidd is a 1945 adventure film starring Charles Laughton, Randolph Scott and Barbara Britton. It was directed by Rowland V. Lee and produced by Benedict Bogeaus and James Nasser. The music was conducted by Werner Janssen. The film was released by United Artists. It has entered the public domain because the producers neglected to renew the copyright in 1972. The film is also Lee's final one before his retirement. The film contains some historically incorrect material, including a London scene showing Tower Bridge - two hundred years before it was built. Kidd's London prisoner crew was removed before it sailed from England and Kidd was forced to find a new crew in New York City. Kidd returned to New York, not to London. In his memories, Nikita Khrushchev noted that this was one of Joseph Stalin's favorite films, who identified with the mischievous captain.


Pirate William Kidd loots and destroys the London galleon The Twelve Apostles along the area of the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, destroying his own ship as he and his four confederates bury the stolen treasure on a remote island where he killed one of them for questioning him while marooning Orange Povey. Seceral years later, in 1699, having framed The Twelve Apostles Admiral Lord Blayne of piracy, Kidd presents himself at the court of King William III as an honest shipmaster seeking a royal commission as a privateer with aspirations of lordship over Blayne's estate. Kidd will command the Adventure Galley which will be escorting the ship Quedagh Merchant, carrying the King's ambassador Lord Fallsworth and a treasure chest from the Grand Mughal as a present, across Madagascan waters to England. Kidd recruits from condemned pirates in Newgate and Marshalsea prisons with promise of a royal pardon at the end of their voyage. Among them is the quarrelsome though cultured Adam Mercy, whom Kidd makes his new master gunner because of his claimed prior service with pirate Captain Avery. Accompanied by his confederates Jose Lorenzo and Cyprian Boyle, whom he intended to covertly murder, Kidd finds himself joined by Povey who had the foresight to prepare an incriminating letter to be sent if he should die during the voyage.

Kidd's murderous plan quickly unfolds as he arranged Boyle's accidental death, adding Adam to his list when he claims to be spy for the king and extorts Kidd. The Adventure Galley eventually rendezvous with the Quedagh Merchant, with Kidd slightly convincing Lord Fallsworth to move himself, his daughter Lady Anne Dunstan, and the chest to his ship for safe keeping by lying of having fought pirates recently. At the same time, Kidd had Lorenzo lights a candle in the ship's magazine which results with the Quedagh Merchant's destruction while Kidd aarranged a fatal "accident" for Lord Fallsworth, leaving only a frightened Lady Anne. She turns to the only man she thinks she can trust, Shadwell, Kidd's servant. When she mentions in passing the recent battle with pirates, the honest Shadwell tells her it never happened. He advises the woman to put her faith in Adam, whom she felt she knew from somewhere. Adam confides in her that he is Admiral Lord Blayne's son and had turned to piracy to clear his father's name. A duel between Adam and Lorenzo soon after when the latter attempts to take Lady Anne for himself, Kidd allowing it in hopes one or both men may die, with the duel ending when Lorenzo is knocked overboard to drown.

But Adam's medallion is torn off his neck during the fight, with Kidd and deducing the man's identity while having himself and Povy take Adam to the island where they buried the loot from The Twelve Apostles. When Adam sees the Blayne crest, a fight breaks out before he is knocked unconscious and apparently drowned. But he swam secretly back to the ship, enlisting his loyal friend Bartholomew Blivens in helping him row Lady Anne away in the ship's jolly boat before they are spotted. Despite Shadwell sacrificing himself in an attempt to interfere, the boat is blown up. Believing himself safe, yet unable to kill of Povey, Kidd appears before King William with his treasure and claims his reward. But Kidd learns that Adam and Lady Anne have survived and that King's men have acquired The Twelve Apostles loot from Kidd's cabin with Povy killed in the process. Kidd is tried, condemned, and hanged while Adam is awarded with his father's honor restored and the hand of Lady Anne in marriage.



This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

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