Category Archives: TV and Film

Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd

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When visiting a Disney theme park, if allowed to go to my favorite ride first, I’m making a B-line for Pirates of the Caribbean. As I settled in to watch Abbott and Costello meet Captain Kidd, I was reminded a lot of that famous Disney ride. Released in 1952, fifteen years before the ride debuted, this film opens with a mix of pirate nastiness and musical mirth that feels very Disney-esque. 

Bud and Lou play Rocky and Puddin’ Head, a couple of hapless waiters at a tavern in Tortuga frequented by pirates. This joint isn’t your average seedy pub, either. Besides serving rum, the bar entertains the patrons with a musical floor show featuring the boy’s pal Bruce (Bill Shirley) and a cast of leggy beauties in pirate outfits. Who says blood-thirsty pirates can’t be cultured? Of course, when Captain Kidd (Charles Laughton) and his men show up in town, they make things pretty miserable for the staff of the tavern.

It seems that Kidd and Captain Bonney (Hillary Brooke) are about to head out for Skull Island to find a buried treasure. However, the treasure map ends up with Puddin’ Head and gets mixed up with a love note from Lady Jane (Fran Warren) intended for Bruce. Long story short, our heroes end up weaseling their way onto Kidd’s ship, thinking the captain will let them have part of the treasure in exchange for giving him access to the map, which is technically his anyway. Of course, Kidd has no intention of sharing.

This is one of only two films that Abbott and Costello made in color, and it does come off as a bit more lavish production than many of their other films. The sets for Tortuga, Captain Kidd’s ship, and Skull Island are big and impressive. This isn’t just Bud and Lou playing pirate for 70 minutes, it’s a legit big pirate adventure. Of course, it’s done with a sense of humor not found in most swashbucklers, and it does deliver a decent amount of laughs. There are some Abbott and Costello films that rely on wordplay for much of their humor, while others are more about physical comedy. This one is more about the physical humor. However, the comedy team at the center of this film is not really Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. It’s Lou Costello and Charles Laughton.

Laughton had played Captain Kidd previously in the 1945 film of the same name. He certainly was one of the most respected actors to ever appear alongside Bud and Lou. Here he really does seem to be relishing the opportunity to do something a bit crazy. His performance reminded me a bit of a live-action Yosemite Sam. He blusters and scowls with great flare. He also proves to be a great comedic foil for Lou Costello. The two share several funny scenes, in fact, at times it feels like Costello has more screen time with Laughton than he does with his partner, Abbott. 

Of course, the film does have a B story, the romance between Bruce and Lady Jane. I often get frustrated with these storylines. I’m the sort of viewer who is content with the craziness being provided by Abbott and Costello, or the Marx Brothers. I don’t need the romantic subplot featuring a couple of beautiful, but boring co-stars. In this case, the romantic subplot is a bit half-baked, and that’s actually a good thing. It’s still an annoyance that someone felt it was necessary to include it, but it never steals away too much of the comedic energy being provided by Abbott, Costello, and Laughton.

Though it’s not on the same level as when Bud and Lou met Frankenstein, their adventure with Captain Kidd is a pleasant enough musical adventure. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this is a musical, and the songs are actually quite joyous. All-in-all, the boys are in fine form and they manage to pull some solid comedy out of Laughton, an actor not particularly known for humor.

As a special bonus, you will find a review of the 1945 film Captain Kidd, starring Charles Laughton, over at our Patreon page. Head on over and consider throwing some pirate booty our way to access this review, as well as other great bonus content..

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Movie Cereal: Superman – Chapter 9: Irresistible Force

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At the end of our last chapter, a train carrying the Reducer Ray was headed straight for danger as some of the Spider Lady’s goons have rigged some explosives on the tracks. With Clark Kent having accompanied the decoy truck, he’s quite a way away from being able to save the train. Let’s see what happens in Chapter nine of Superman, Irresistible Force.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for Clark Kent to dash away from the truck and change into Superman. He flies to meet the train and stops it dead in its tracks, just before the explosives go off a few feet away. Meanwhile, back at the decoy, two of the goons who ambushed the truck are taken into custody just as Superman returns and changes back into mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Later, in Perry White’s office, we learn that Clark managed to write a blockbuster story on the incident, which enrages Lois. To calm her down, Perry gives Lois the job of getting an interview with Dr. Graham, who is coming to Metropolis to run some experiments on the Reducer Ray.

Meanwhile, at the Spider Lady’s lair, the villainess hatches a plan to get her hands on Dr. Graham. She will pose as Lois Lane and intercept Graham at the airport. Meanwhile, the evil Dr. Hackett will pretend to be Graham and meet up with the real Lois. To delay Lois’ arrival at the airport, a few of the Spider Lady’s henchmen cause a minor fender bender with the intrepid reporter.

The Spider Lady’s plan goes off without a hitch, except for one little detail. Nobody planned on Jimmy Olsen following Lois and snapping a picture as she met up with Graham (actually Hackett). Once they get to the lab at the university, Lois herself starts to get suspicious of the so-called Dr. Graham. When she ducks out to make a call (in the scene that was strangely in the last episode’s end-of-chapter recap) she is nabbed by the baddies. Meanwhile, back at the Spider Lady’s hideout, she informs the real Dr. Graham that he will reveal to her all the secrets of the Reducer Ray. While all this is going on, Clark Kent gets a look at Jimmy’s picture of Lois and Graham at the airport and realizes it’s really Dr. Hackett. Clark then scurries off and changes into Superman before flying out the window of the Daily Planet.

Back at the college, Lois is tied up while Hackett sets the Reducer Ray to self-destruct. Having taken a bunch of pictures, Hackett has all he needs to build his own version of the machine. It seems like certain doom for Lois Lane, but what else is new? Will Superman get there in time? You’ll need to wait until the next chapter to find out.

As has been the trend, this is another episode with not a lot of Superman action. He appears at the beginning for the cliffhanger resolution, and again at the end to set up the next one. That’s it. That having been said, the end of the cliffhanger this time is pretty awesome! Whereas Superman tends to stop moving cars by grabbing the back bumper, that’s not going to work for a train. He jumps right in front of the locomotive, holds out his hands, and brings the beast to a stop. The effect here is done by having Superman stand in front of a projection screen with footage of a train heading right for the camera. Cheesy, yes, but still effective.

I’m sure youngsters who saw this serial in the theater gasped with excitement when Supes brought the train to a halt, but there is another moment in this chapter that got a bigger gasp out of me. When we see the Spider Lady lay out her plan to pose as Lois Lane and kidnap Dr. Graham, she does something completely unexpected. She reaches up to her blonde locks and pulls off a wig, revealing herself to actually be a brunette! I was shocked! We’re nine chapters in and I had no idea she was wearing a wig all this time. Now, is it really necessary that she changes her hair to impersonate Lois Lane, though? I mean would the average government scientist know the hair color of the various reporters at the Daily Planet? I doubt it. Still, it was kind of fun to see the Spider Lady change, not only her hair color, but also her look in general. She goes for a much more straight-laced sort of fashion sense when she does the Lois act.

The episode closes with a pretty good cliffhanger setup. Lois is tied up in a room with the Reducer Ray sparking and sputtering as it gets ready to blow. I do have a bit of a problem with Hackett’s plan to build his own Reducer Ray based on a few snapshots. I mean, what if he gets the photos back from Walgreens and they are underexposed, or he had his thumb in front of the lens? Before we had digital photos these things happened all the time people! 

Before the narrator tells viewers to come back next week to see what happens to Lois, we do get a quick shot inserted that implies that Jimmy Olsen has followed Lois once again and may be in danger of being blown to smithereens, as well. Can Superman get there in time, or will there be two job openings at the Daily Planet tomorrow morning? Find out next time as we look at chapter ten, Between Two Fires.

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Muppet Show Commentary Tracks on Patreon

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We’ve got a brand new bonus for our Patreon supporters today!

In my opinion, the greatest television show ever produced was The Muppet Show! I tuned in to the show religiously when I was a kid. Every Saturday night at 6:30 PM. I will never forget the heartache I felt when I tuned in one night to find the show was no longer on and had been replaced by Dance Fever. Curse you Deney Terrio! Luckily, The Muppet Show started its second syndicated run a few weeks later, so I was able to watch it every day after school.

As someone who has watched these shows more times than I can count, and who has worked a bit as a puppeteer in my adult life, I think I have some interesting things to say about these shows. They entertained me as a kid, and later as an adult, but they also influenced me quite a bit as I learned the art of puppetry myself.

We’re going to start things out with five whole commentary tracks. That’s one for each season of the show. I decided to pick one of my favorite episodes from each season. For season one we have guest star Rita Moreno. Season 2 brings us Monty Python member John Cleese. For season 3 we’ll look at the episode starring Harry Belafonte. Season 4 takes us to my all-time favorite episode of the show, featuring guest star Lynda Carter. We close out with the season 5 episode starring Carol Burnet, which is the one where Gonzo holds a dance marathon during the show.

All of these Muppet Show episodes are available on Disney Plus, so you can watch the show as you listen to my commentary. To get the commentaries, though, you need to be a supporter of the Forgotten Filmcast through Patreon. So hop on over to our Patreon page and think about sending some support our way.

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Forgotten Filmcast Episode 164: Aladdin

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On the new episode of the Forgotten Filmcast, Todd is joined by Austin Trunick, author of The Cannon Film Guide to discuss the film Aladdin. No, it’s not the Disney animated version. This is the 1986 Cannon Films version starring Bud Spencer as the genie.

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Show Notes:
Austin on Twitter

“Protofunk” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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Movie Cereal: Superman – Chapter 8: Superman to the Rescue

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At the end of our last chapter, Jimmy Olsen had made the mistake of trying to take on the Spider Lady’s men with his fists and now finds himself lying unconscious on a conveyor belt headed for the mouth of a blazing furnace. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is in the next room, unaware of Jimmy’s impending doom. What will happen? Let’s find out in Chapter Eight – Superman to the Rescue.

Though we don’t get the zoom in on Clark Kent’s eyes to indicate he is using x-ray vision, we presume he uses his super specks and spots Jimmy in danger. Declaring, “this looks like a job for Superman,” he changes costume and rushes in to save Jimmy. Superman manages to stop the conveyor belt, but then is threatened by one of the goons who is holding a small box containing Kryptonite. He tosses it at Superman, but it ends up going into the furnace. This produces Kryptonite fumes which leave Superman gasping for air. Just at that moment, the crooks hear a police whistle outside and make a run for it. Superman then staggers out the door as Jimmy comes to. Suddenly, Lois Lane shows up and reveals that she was the one blowing a whistle. Then she and Jimmy go into the next room and discover Clark Kent, unscathed.

Later, Superman is summoned to Washington where he is informed that the reducer ray is due to be moved to Metropolis for study. Superman then suggests that they use this opportunity to try and draw out the Spider Lady. News of the move hits the papers and the villainess uses her network of informants to learn that the reducer ray will be moved from Washington via truck, guarded by Superman. Undaunted, she sends out a team to snatch the ray, accompanied by some goons with Dr. Hackett’s new Kryptonite weapons.

In reality, the ray is being moved by train, while the truck contains just the driver and mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Unfortunately, word of the decoy hits the Spider Lady. She attempts to contact her goons with the news, but they don’t hear her calling on the CB because they are listening to music on the radio too loud. When these crooks stop the truck, they pull out Clark Kent and use their fists to send him flying behind the bushes. This gives him the chance to change into Superman. He’s quickly spotted by the crooks manning Dr. Hackett’s Kryptonite weapon and they fire a missile right at the boy in blue. However, Supes catches it and throws it right back at them. Superman then goes after the other crooks who attempted to rob the empty truck.

All is not well, though. After the Spider Lady found out about the decoy, she dispatched another couple of goons to stop the train by blowing up the tracks. Now it’s a race against the clock as Superman heads off to save the doomed train. Will he make it in time? We won’t know until the next chapter.

Whereas the last few installments were pretty short on screen time for our title character, this chapter finally brings us more Superman. Not that he’s doing hero stuff all that time, mind you. There is a lot of standing around and talking this time, but at least he’s doing it in his cape and tights. When we do get some Superman action, though, it is not without a bit of awkwardness. In the opening cliffhanger resolution, for example, we are left to just assume that Clark uses x-ray vision to notice that Jimmy is in danger. There is no illustration of this with a close-up on the eyes like we’ve had in other chapters. Also, the bit with the Kryptonite fumes is a bit weird. I mean, does a space rock burn up so quickly that it produces crippling (at least for Superman) fumes in a matter of seconds? Apparently so.

There’s also a bit of clunkiness with the whole plotline with the reducer ray being moved. It’s never explained why Clark Kent is given the task of riding along in the decoy truck. I mean, if you were trying to lure out a master criminal like the Spider Lady, would your decoy vehicle be protected by just a hapless driver and some nerdy reporter? I don’t think so. This then leads into another troubling moment where the bad guys punch Clark and send him tumbling into the bushes. Again, the fact that he’s dressed as Clark doesn’t suddenly make him less strong. The crook’s wrist should have shattered when his fist made contact with Clark’s jaw! These awkward moments, though, are somewhat redeemed when we get a truly cool sequence a few seconds later. Superman catches a Kryptonite missile with his bare hands and then hurls it back at the enemy. Now, he probably should’ve collapsed due to making even brief contact with Kryptonite, but I’ll let it slide cuz it’s cool!

Now, before the episode ends, we get a short bit of dialogue from the narrator like we’ve gotten in all the other episodes, but this one is a bit strange. This time, he mentions things that didn’t happen in the episode. He says, “Will the vengeance of the Spider Lady again menace Lois Lane? Will her desperate call for help go unanswered?” This is accompanied by footage of Lois talking on the phone, but then having her mouth covered before being dragged away by some hood. This did not happen in the chapter we just watched!! Who is Lois calling? How would the Spider Lady’s goons know about this? What does this have to do with anything? Your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully, we’ll find out next time in chapter nine – Irresistible Force. Oh yeah, and maybe the train will get saved, too.

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Movie Cereal: Superman – Chapter 7: Into the Electric Furnace

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When we last left Metropolis, or the outskirts of Metropolis, Lois Lane was unconscious at the wheel of a car that was headed straight for a nose dive off a high cliff. Clark Kent is lying by the side of the road, having been overpowered by some of the Spider-lady’s goons. Ugh, I’m still struggling with that one! How will he ever save Lois in time? Let’s find out in chapter 7 – Into the Electric Furnace!

Unshown to us in the previous installment, Clark Kent actually composes himself pretty quickly after the attack by Spider-lady’s henchmen. He quickly changes into Superman and zooms off to the house where he left Dr. Hackett tied up. A quick search reveals the house is empty, so he zooms off again and quickly spots the car containing Lois. He then swoops down and grabs the car by the back fender (a favorite move of Superman’s) and stops it from going over the cliff. He then pulls the still snoozing Lois out and flies her back to town.

We now cut back to Perry White’s office at the Daily Planet, where Lois explains that she remembers nothing except waking up in a doctor’s office. Lois, Clark, and Jimmy all get to feel Perry’s wrath as he’s none too happy about them dropping the ball on the Dr. Hackett story. Meanwhile, at the Spider-lady’s lair, she is briefing Dr. Hackett on the possibilities of creating a kryptonite weapon to use against Superman. The doctor decides they need to lure Superman to them using someone he is close to…Clark Kent. 

The Spider-lady’s goons phone in a tip to Clark’s desk, but the call is intercepted by Lois. So, instead of Clark being lured into the trap, it’s Lois and Jimmy headed for danger again. The result is the goons grabbing poor Jimmy Olsen, thinking he’s Clark. Dr. Hackett realizes the mistake after Jimmy is brought to the hideout, but he decides they can use this bungle to their advantage. So, he calls Clark and tells him to get word to Superman that they have kidnapped Jimmy Olsen. Clark cleverly asks Hackett to prove they have Jimmy, so the two arrange to meet so Clark can see for himself.

Clark heads off to the rendezvous and meets up with Hackett. He tells the doctor that Superman will show up if they agree to let Jimmy go. The goons then take Clark back to their lair. Of course, Lois, always out to get into trouble, has followed Clark.

At the hideout, the goons get frustrated that Superman is a no-show. Clark reminds them that the deal was to let Jimmy go, then Superman will come. The crooks are having none of this, though. They haul Clark off to another room. Meanwhile, Jimmy has loosened his bonds and decides to try and take out the crooks. They quickly overpower the meager photographer, though, and soon Jimmy finds himself lying unconscious on a conveyer belt, about to land in a blazing furnace. With Clark tucked away in another room, how will he even know Jimmy is in danger? You’ll have to wait until next time to find out.

Once again, we have an episode of Superman with very little Superman! Just like with the previous episode, the last son of Krypton shows up for the resolution of the cliffhanger and then vanishes for the rest of the chapter. It doesn’t help that the cliffhanger resolution feels like a huge cheat this time around. I mean, all the cliffhanger resolutions are cheats in one way or another, but this one goes a bit overboard. We have tons of footage we didn’t see before where Clark Kent composes himself after being shoved around by the bad guys, runs off to change clothes, then goes to the house to see Dr. Hackett has escaped, and THEN zips off to rescue Lois. Oh, and when Clark goes to change into his cape and tights he ducks into some bushes but emerges as Superman a few seconds later from behind a rock!? Plus, when he rescues Lois, it’s a technique we’ve seen him do at least twice already in previous chapters…he grabs the back bumper of the speeding car to bring it to a halt. Maybe one time jump in front of the car to stop it! Or better yet, catch it in mid-air after it drops off the cliff! With the way the filmmakers use animation or the special effects in this serial, surely they could’ve pulled that off.

Now, it was kind of cool that we got to see Superman fly off with Lois in his arms after the rescue. However, after they zoom off we very quickly cut to everybody having a powwow in Perry White’s office back at the Daily Planet. I grew up on the 1978 version of Superman, and so help me, the scene with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder flying around Metropolis on their “date” is one of my favorites in the film. So yeah, I wanted to see Lois and Superman have a romantic midair moment here. Alas, it was not to be. Strangely, though, there is a bit of a moment between Lois and Clark later on. After the two have both been ripped a new one by Perry White, they have a brief exchange where it seems like Lois is letting her guard down a bit and not feeling quite so threatened by this new reporter on the staff. Clark doesn’t seize the moment and ask her for a date, though.

Sadly, most of this chapter is pretty humdrum, but we do get a nice surprise toward the end when Jimmy Olsen, of all people, steps up to try and be the hero. The feisty photographer manages to free himself from his bonds and rather than just making a run for it, he tries to take out the Spider-lady’s goons all by himself. Jimmy is, of course, played by Tommy Bond, who as a kid played the part of Butch in the Our Gang series. I guess he’s returning to his tough guy roots, trying to throw punches like he did alongside The Woim back in those old shorts. It’s good to see him get a chance to shine here, as so far Jimmy has been just kind of tagging along in this serial.

Jimmy may wish he’d not tried to take down the crooks, though, cuz now he’s lying unconscious on a conveyor belt, about to be flame-broiled. How will Superman save him? Super cold breath? Smash the furnace to smithereens? You’ll have to wait until next time to find out. Join us for Chapter 8 – Superman to the Rescue.

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