Graham Chapman …. Captain Yellowbeard
Peter Boyle …. Moon
Cheech Marin …. El Segundo
Tommy Chong …. El Nebuloso
Peter Cook …. Lord Percy Lambourn
Marty Feldman …. Gilbert
Martin Hewitt …. Dan
Michael Hordern …. Dr. Gilpin
Eric Idle …. Commander Clement
Madeline Kahn …. Betty
James Mason …. Captain Hughes
John Cleese …. Harvey ‘Blind’ Pew
Kenneth Mars …. Mr. Crisp and Verdugo
Spike Milligan …. Flunkie
Stacey Nelkin …. Triola
Nigel Planer …. Mansell
It takes more than a great cast to make a movie great. For proof of this, look no further than Mel Damski’s Yellowbeard, which features one of the greatest comedy casts of all time, but fails to impress due to lame jokes and lazy direction. Featuring alums from Monty Python, Mel Brooks’ veterans and the comedy duo Cheech and Chong, this film should have been a knockout, instead of the dud that it is.
Graham Chapman stars as Yellowbeard, the most ruthless pirate ever to live. He kills men and rapes women by the hundreds. In the film’s opening moments we get a taste of his fury, as he takes out the entire crew of the Spaniard Captain El Nebuloso (Tommy Chong). After stealing the Spaniard’s treasure, we learn that eventually Yellowbeard was captured, but his booty was never found again.
After 20 years, Yellowbeard learns his eminent release has been rescinded, causing him to finally make an escape (which seems awfully easy). Unbeknownst to the pirate, he’s actually been set up to lead the English government to the treasure by Commander Clement (Eric Idle) of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Also on the heels of Yellowbeard is the treacherous Captain Moon (Peter Boyle) who used to be Yellowbeard’s First Mate until he turned on him.
Also along for the ride is Yellowbeard’s son Dan (Martin Hewitt), who isn’t pirate, but a Royal gardener. He’s kidnapped by Moon, but inadvertently becomes the captain of the ship when the crew mutinies. He takes the ship to site of the Yellowbeard’s treasure where a climactic showdown takes place between Moon’s pirates, the Royal Navy, Yellowbeard and El Nebuloso, who has now declared himself living god.
If none of this makes much sense, neither does watching the movie either. With someone like Terry Gilliam or Mel Brooks behind the camera, this could have seriously been one of the greatest Comedies of all time. As it is, it’s a sloppy mess with jokes being run into the ground and performances wasted from the likes of John Cleese, James Mason, Madeline Kahn, Cheech Marin, and Marty Feldman.
Of course, with a cast like this not all of the jokes are duds. Graham Chapman does some really funny deadpan routines as he ignores guards trying to beat him over the head while carrying on conversations. He’s also good at treating piracy as a commonplace type of job, with killing as a fringe benefit. Marty Feldman is hilarious as Gilbert, a goon of a pirate that that blindly follows Moon’s orders, but he’s really not given enough to do. What gets tiresome is repetition, and especially the unfunny rape jokes.
Yellowbeard just feels like a retread of great spoofs such Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Blazing Saddles without any big laughs. When a cast like this is on screen and you’re not screaming with delight every few minutes, then the director is not doing his job. Too bad Yellowbeard elicits more boredom than laughs.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 4/10
TOTAL POINTS: 20/50
FINAL MOVIE SCORE: 4/10
The print for this is passable, but not spectacular. Watching it on this DVD is not much better than seeing it late night on network TV. The film is presented in Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
The audio track is not much better. The track is in Dolby Digital 2.0 and is rather underwhelming.
SPECIAL FEATURES: None. The disc I watched didn’t even have a proper menu or scene selections.