Frock Flicks note: This is a guest post by our friend Yosa Addiss. At 6 years old, she informed her mother that her selection of dress-up clothes was woefully inadequate. Yosa has been building a suitable collection ever since. After pursuing a degree in costume design, she created one of the first websites for custom-made costume gowns. Yosa has moved on to a career in marketing but remains a lover of theatre and film and lifelong fan of historical costume. Find her at yosa.com.
Ah, let’s roll back to the good ol’ days of cinema with Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954), starring Anthony Dexter and Eva Gabor. When the sets were paper and the beards were painted on with eyebrow pencil.
The movie opens with our brave Captain already in dire circumstances. He is in jail and to be hanged on the morrow. Oh dear! Our hero is wearing some sort of stretchy pants and a shirt/vest combo that is almost certainly sewn together. Sewn together? Why yes — that way the shirt doesn’t get in the way of seeing his stretchy pants!
High boots in black compliment his clearly and obviously fake mustache and goatee. Seriously, they are painted on with eyebrow pencil. It is fantastic!
The first woman we see makes this film for me. It is set in the 1600s. Right? Right?
Ok, so we have here a classic 1950s “period” piece. Bullet bra, off the shoulder, big swaths of fabric off puffy sleeves, and a bouffant. (Insert peals of laughter from the peanut gallery.) It even has the super flattering pointy bodice, too! No shots of Eve Gabor’s costumes yet — she spends the entire first scene in the bathtub.
Interestingly, this gentleman’s clothing is pretty good here for the late 1700s a la 1950s Hollywood. Jacket, vest, shirt, breeches, hose, and even shoes instead of boots. The jacket and vest have matching gold embroidery, and the shirt has ruffles of lace. Oddly, the breeches are a different color than the rest of the outfit, but whatever. Sure, his outfit is boxy, and he is clearly wearing shoulder pads, but for the time and the certain small budget, I’d call it pretty good.
The only thing really off is Eva Gabor in full 1940s starlet drag taking a bubble bath in the background. Later she gets clothes, which all seem to have parts of mink coats on them.
Onboard the ship, the wealthy men are still doing pretty well, with the exception of beauty queen sashes, I mean, belts across their shoulders. Why? Who knows. Maybe they are guitar straps? They are in a cover band?
Eva Gabor then shows up in a completely spectacular outfit of tight-lacing corset, padded bra, and miles of knit chiffon. It is a Grecian number, with a criss-cross bodice, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and lots of pretty buttons. I’ve gotta say, her commitment to tight lacing is impressive.
Men’s outfits continue to be pretty good throughout. The shoulder pads are impressive and the lines as straight as possible, but overall they coordinate and are of a time instead of 1950s runway fashion. They are all clearly winners of their state in the Mr. America Pirate competition of 1955. Solid B.
Another classic on Eva, a touch of mink, off-the-shoulder, corseted to high heaven. Ivory or maybe pink velvet, with a zipper or hook-and-eye tape up the front.
Seriously, this ‘penoir a la francaise’ has got to be seen to be believed.
She is corseted/girdled within an inch of her life and her nylon floor-length nightgown has a sacque back!
Slippers? Sheer stockings? On Kidd?
Blackbeard and Calico Jack make an appearance. Arrr.
Eva swans about in a full-on 1950s evening gown. Why? Sequins, of course!
I counted 8 tricorn hats in this scene. Either they had large tricorn budget or they got a discount.
Anne Bonney gets pants and her own sword fight — I’ll take it.
Have you seen Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl?
Happily, Captain Kidd’s bare chest, and Anne Bonney’s pants and poet shirt hotness distracted me from Gabor’s questionable costumes. So, win.
She looks so cool! And though she’s pretty, she’s not the very stylized 1950s style pretty, which makes her look much more authentic than the rest of the female cast.
No the shoulder belts are for the men to buckle their swords on. Otherwise, being men and somewhat lacking in brains – brawn not thoughts – they’d forget them and the cheesy swordbuckler films would go the way of the dodo.
This one I missed.
Is Gabor the titular slave girl?
That painted on beard and moustache combo is CLASSIC! I adore it! I haven’t laughed so hard in months. It reminds me of when an kid goes to a friends fancy dress party dressed as a pirate and at the last minute their mum attacks them with her eyeliner… to stunning effect!
I am a tad worried about Eva’s tight lacing habit though. As an actress, squishing her poor diaphragm up so much is hardly a good idea – I hate to think of the state of her rib reserve.
Even in the low-budget theater companies I occasionally perform with, we at least have crèpe hair to make fairly convincing facial fur.
I’m sure I saw this when it came out, but it was quite forgettable. Ar, ar — Robert Newton strikes again. When Newton played Long John Silver in Disney’s “Treasure Island,” he played Silver as a Cockney. “Ar, ar.” Was a verbalised laugh, a la “har, har,” but Cockneys often drop the initial h in many words and add it in others, like the bus conductor who announced “‘yde Park Corner.” When a rider called him on it, he said, “That’s all roight, guvnor, we’ll pick it up again at Marble Harch.”
I’m pretty sure Robert Newton was doing an exaggerated West Country Accent rather than Cockney. Newton was born in Dorset and grew up in Cornwall so he was acquainted with that accent (which would make sense for a pirate as a lot of sailors came from the West Country and Bristol, where Treasure Island begins is in Somerset.)
No -as Northcountrygal says, Newton’s Long John Silver accent (which pretty much created the entire ‘pirate accent’ tradition in movies) was his own native Dorset tongue, hammed up just a little. He wasn’t laughing. The West Country accent is very rhotic, unlike that of SE England, from which British ‘Received Pronunciation’ comes, and ‘Ah’ in Devon, Zummerzet and Cornwall naturally comes out as ‘Ar’ (as in ‘Ar, Jim lad’). It can convey any number of meanings, including but not restricted to ‘aha!’, ‘hmm’, ‘oh, well’, ‘yes’, ‘You got me there’ . . .
I rather liked the bathtub. Was that an wink to Egyptian revival? Or Crystal Allen’s tub in “The Women”?
How I missed this cheesefest on a Sunday afternoon on channel 5 growing is beyond me! Maybe I saw it and wiped it from my memory. Loved the review.
LOLing at that rando Pilgrim standing next to Blackbeard!
I’m here for Anne Bonney getting her own swordfight!
I love these low budget piratefilms. The Italians produced even more trashy stuff – for example with Lex Barker in the leading role.
However the painted beard really is something Special and I ask myself how to follow the plot, when I just have to look on that “beard”.
Perfect content for Frock Flicks universe. I would revommend to write more such posts – maybe giving point to factors like: most stupid looking ship models. Even some great successful actors were in such films like Linda Darnell.
Fantastic job! Thank you!