Yellowbeard Blu-ray review

“The pirate Yellowbeard captured many other galleons, killing over five-hundred men in cold blood. He would tear the captains hearts out and swallow them whole. Often forcing his victims to eat their own lips, he was caught and imprisoned…for tax evasion.”


Following an opening sequence that is certainly meant to be rousing, the movie shifts forward twenty years later, with Yellowbeard (Graham Chapman, co-wrote the screenplay) being pardoned from his sentence and duties making caskets. Even though his beard has turned gray, the pirate still has his wits about him. More of interest to the Royal Navy, Yellowbeard still has his gold.


Knowing that Yellowbeard will make an escape should he be imprisoned again, the Royal Navy is given an extended sentence. With this, Yellowbeard can be traced to his beloved treasure. Of course, Yellowbeard has forgotten where it’s buried in the two decades he’s been locked away, so he has to consult a tattoo of the map on his son’s (Martin Hewitt, who appeared alongside Brooke Shields in ENDLESS LOVE) head. This is the sort of movie YELLOWBEARD is.

Some elements of the Monty Python brand of humor are present, but YELLOWBEARD is more of an accidental fiasco. (Indeed, Python members John Cleese and Eric Idle make appearances—Terry Jones and the rest apparently knew better than to get involved.). It’s one of those goofy see-what-sticks sort of comedies where very little sticks. There are a few laughs (and how could there not be, considering the lineup?), but YELLOWBEARD is about as amusing as walking the plank.


There is rape humor that seems to be meant as a recurring gag, visual jokes that fail (a blind man playing jump rope) and far too many inane gags. An example: when Yellowbeard tells his first mate, Moon (Peter Boyle, just off of Wim Wenders’ HAMMETT), to keep his hands off his gold, and it’s revealed that, sure enough, Moon’s severed hand is atop the mound of gold.

It’s probably agreed that the behind-the-scenes story of YELLOWBEARD (directed by Mel Damski, who had previously earn an Emmy nomination for his work on the TV series AMERICAN DREAM; he would later earn an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Short for STILL KICKING: THE FABULOUS PALM SPRINGS FOLLIES) is more entertaining than the product. Surely there must be an argument for this since the production inspired a book, YELLOWBEARD: High Jinks on the High Seas! (Even the book cover states “By Monty Python’s Graham Chapman,” suggesting the reader (like the viewer) is more interested in Python than this abysmal picture.) Such BTS tales include The Who drummer Keith Moon’s early involvement, the botched casting of Sting, the intended Harry Nilsson score and the death of Marty Feldman during filming. Still, not too amusing—although the $0.01 selling price on Amazon might entice some.


The supporting players/embarrassing cameos of the bloated cast include David Bowie, Peter Bull, Peter Cook, Madeline Kahn, James Mason, Kenneth Mars, Spike Milligan, Susannah York and—why not?—Cheech and Chong. These appearances come across as favors. So, too, must watching the movie for a Monty Python fan.


Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. While the high-definition transfer is certainly better than the one featured on the DVD, it is still bland and lacking in the details and color that fans may have been anticipating.

Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The audio is a bit better, with clean dialogue and a stable score.



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