The only surviving 35mm SuperCinecolor print of Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) will be screened on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 at the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus Theater as part of program of Cinecolor rarities. Archivists Bob Furmanek and Jack Theakston will present film clips and trailers in this unique and forgotten two and three-color process. As a special bonus, they will also screen a classic Abbott and Costello Show episode in 35mm, co-starring Sid Fields, Bingo the Chimp and Joe Besser as “Stinky.”
Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd is one of only two color films by the team; the other is Jack and the Beanstalk. Both films were produced by the comedians themselves. Producer Alex Gottlieb recalled, “It was their idea to get [Charles] Laughton.” When Gottlieb asked Laughton why he’d want to do a picture with Abbott and Costello, the famed actor replied, “I don’t know how to do a double-take. I think I can learn from Lou. This is a very funny man. You don’t realize how talented Lou Costello is.”
Laughton had appeared on their NBC radio show in 1942 when Bud and Lou were crowned the nation’s No. 1 Box Office stars, and again in 1944. Laughton told the Associated Press, “Those two fellows have always been my idols. Abbott and Costello or a western are the only two things that will ever get me in a movie house. I can’t stand serious movies.”
Robert Aldrich, who went on to direct such films as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and The Dirty Dozen (1967), was an assistant director on Meet Captain Kidd. He later recalled, “Laughton would come in and watch like they were two zanies in a show.”
The film was shot at Motion Picture Center Studios, where the second season of the boys’ TV series was also filmed. The following year the studio was purchased by Desilu, and I Love Lucy was filmed on the same stage where the pirate ship had been built.
On April 6, not long after filming was completed, Abbott and Costello hosted an episode of the Colgate Comedy Hour and had Laughton as a guest. That summer, the three of them filmed a two-minute theatrical commercial for Christmas Seals that ran later in the year.
Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd was restored in 2002 by film archivists at UCLA after Furmanek tracked down a duplicate set of the film’s color negatives. The restored version was released on DVD in 2011.
For general Packard Campus Theater information, call (540) 827-1079 ext. 79994 or (202) 707-9994. For further information on the theater and film series, visit //www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/schedule.html