• Yellowbeard

    Released by: Olive Films
    Released on: May 26th, 2015
    Directed by: Mel Damski
    Cast: Graham Chapman, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, John Cleese, Eric Idle
    Year: 1983
    Purchase on Amazon

    The Movie

    Yellowbeard is a great example of how one can assemble the greatest cast money (or personal favors) can buy, yet-thanks to a shit script-still fail to deliver an entertaining film.

    Director Mel Damski has and continues to be a workmanlike presence in the television world to this day, yet the man's inexperience in the feature film world is placed clearly on display here, as he fails to reign in all of the undeniable talent set on display from both Britain's Monty Python and Beyond the Fringe comedy troupes, as well as a cracking cast of co-stars, including Cheech & Chong, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman and Peter Boyle.

    The fault lies primarily within the screenplay of Fringe member Peter Cook and Python alum Graham Chapman-who stars here as the titular pirate-a disjointed and episodic parody of swashbuckling epics with one too many rape jokes for comfort. Seriously, Cook and Chapman go to the rape well almost a dozen times during this thing's running time; it's all a bit uncomfortably surreal, and never really funny, to boot.

    Granted, there are plenty of hijinks and farcical situations which make up the bulk of what is essentially one big race for a buried treasure hidden by Yellowbeard before being imprisoned for tax evasion, but the payoffs rarely deliver more than a chuckle as the talented cast struggle with the sub-par material they're given here to work. Yellowbeard attempts to reach for a vibe similar to Python's earlier classics with a smattering of Mel Brooks for good measure, but the tone is all over the place with this thing, with dark and spiteful jokes careening head on with slapstick and bawdy ridiculousness.

    Erik the Viking is a good example of a later film which better achieved what Yellowbeard was going for here; a twisted and irreverent take upon a genre which balanced wackiness with a smart, funny and inventive script. Damski's film all feels a bit like the inmates running the asylum, as each actor chews the scenery for all their worth, without any focus towards the story at hand. Yellowbeard never really clicks, and is best left as a forgotten misstep for the Monty Python crew and their collaborators.


    As expected, Olive Films' Blu-Ray looks nice throughout, considering that Yellowbeard was never one of the more high profile efforts from Chapman, Idle and company. There's a certain chunk of this film which takes place at night, yet the blacks are rich without ever appearing too dark or murky. Characters pop during these scenes, while the daytime sequences look equally nice, with a healthy bit of grain which occasionally pops up during some transitional shots.

    The audio is nice and clear, as well, with all the accents and crazy voices coming through clean and well defined. Sadly, there are no extras here aside from the film's trailer, which seems to be par for the course amongst many of Olive's new Blu-Ray releases, making this a purchase worthy only for diehard fans of this odd, awkward little film.

    The Final Word

    Yellowbeard is a mess, and not really in a good way. The rape and violence jokes fall flat, and the 96 minute running time stretches the treasure hunt tale as far as it can go without snapping it in two. At the end of the day, it just doesn't work.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!