Yellowbeard (1983)

PG | 97 mins | Comedy | 24 June 1983

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HISTORY

Actors Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are listed in opening credits as "Cheech & Chong."
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the idea for the film was originally suggested by musician Keith Moon, inspired by writer-actor Graham Chapman’s perceived resemblance to Robert Newton, who starred in the British release, Long John Silver (1955, see entry). Chapman recruited television writer Bernard McKenna, and comedian Peter Cook, who assigned roles to themselves while writing the screenplay.
       The 26 Mar 1979 HR announced that Chapman, McKenna, and producer Christopher Mankiewicz reached a deal to produce Yellowbeard with Warner Bros. Pictures. The 9 Apr 1979 Box estimated the film’s budget at “$6 to $8 million,” describing it as a burlesque of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The project remained in limbo for almost two years, until a news item appeared in the 17 Mar 1981 HR, stating that Handmade Films had acquired the project, and production at England’s Pinewood Studios had been postponed.
       Eighteen months later, the 13 Sep 1982 DV announced plans by producer Carter De Haven, Jr., and executive producer John Daly to release the film through Orion Pictures, which agreed to finance the production. De Haven reportedly received a copy of the screenplay from Daly and immediately recognized its potential for “extraordinary casting,” which included John Cleese, Marty Feldman, Eric Idle, Madeline Kahn, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, and John Candy. De Haven credited Orion executive Mike Medavoy with casting Cheech & Chong, noting that the comedy team that had previously only starred in their own productions. ...

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Actors Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are listed in opening credits as "Cheech & Chong."
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the idea for the film was originally suggested by musician Keith Moon, inspired by writer-actor Graham Chapman’s perceived resemblance to Robert Newton, who starred in the British release, Long John Silver (1955, see entry). Chapman recruited television writer Bernard McKenna, and comedian Peter Cook, who assigned roles to themselves while writing the screenplay.
       The 26 Mar 1979 HR announced that Chapman, McKenna, and producer Christopher Mankiewicz reached a deal to produce Yellowbeard with Warner Bros. Pictures. The 9 Apr 1979 Box estimated the film’s budget at “$6 to $8 million,” describing it as a burlesque of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The project remained in limbo for almost two years, until a news item appeared in the 17 Mar 1981 HR, stating that Handmade Films had acquired the project, and production at England’s Pinewood Studios had been postponed.
       Eighteen months later, the 13 Sep 1982 DV announced plans by producer Carter De Haven, Jr., and executive producer John Daly to release the film through Orion Pictures, which agreed to finance the production. De Haven reportedly received a copy of the screenplay from Daly and immediately recognized its potential for “extraordinary casting,” which included John Cleese, Marty Feldman, Eric Idle, Madeline Kahn, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, and John Candy. De Haven credited Orion executive Mike Medavoy with casting Cheech & Chong, noting that the comedy team that had previously only starred in their own productions. De Haven leased the ninety-foot replica of the H.M.S. Bounty constructed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) for Mutiny on the Bounty (1962, see entry), which, as of 1982, was a St. Petersburg, FL, tourist attraction known as the MGM-UA Bounty. The ship was transported though the Panama Canal to western Mexico prior to principal photography. Yellowbeard marked the feature film debut for director Mel Damski. John Candy is not credited onscreen, and his participation in the film has not been determined.
       The 20 Oct 1982 DV reported that production was currently underway in England, and would relocate to Mexico the following month. Actor Marty Feldman would reportedly appear in four roles, although he is only credited onscreen with one.
       Director Mel Damski told the 21 Nov 1982 LAT that he believed he was given the assignment because, as an American, he could “deliver a film with dialogue that mass American audiences could understand.” Damski drew inspiration from Young Frankenstein (1974, see entry), a parody of horror film genre. Actor Graham Chapman revealed that the character, “Moon,” was originally to be played by Keith Moon, who died in 1978. Despite the presence of numerous comedians among the cast, the production team described the picture as an adventure story, rather than a comedy.
       Various sources state that Marty Feldman died 2 Dec 1982 in Mexico City, Mexico, of a massive heart attack, triggered by food poisoning. De Haven told the 8 Dec 1982 DV that Feldman had completed his seven roles in the film prior to his death. The 8 Dec 1982 Var announced director Phillip Schuman’s upcoming television special, documenting the making of Yellowbeard. Also involved in the project with Schuman and Michael Mileham as co-producers, was writer-associate producer Sam V. Baldoni.
       Legendary press agent Jim Moran was hired to publicize the picture, as reported in the 2 Jun 1983 DV. Moran embarked on a promotional tour of eight cities, accompanied by a parrot. A reputed “showman,” Moran posted the “Jolly Roger,” a black flag bearing the image of skull and crossed bones, above the Hyatt on Sunset hotel in West Hollywood, CA. Yellowbeard marked Moran’s first film assignment in several years.
       The picture opened to mixed reviews. While the 24 Jun 1983 HR described the film as “good fun,” the 24 Jun 1983 DV called it “a disaster.” Several critics also lamented its weak plot.
       End credits include the following statements: “Filmed on location England and Mexico”; “The producers wish to gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of Fonatur in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico"; “MGM’s Bounty from its exhibit in St. Petersburg, Florida”; and, “For Marty.”

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Apr 1979.
---
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1982
p. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1982.
---
Daily Variety
8 Dec 1982.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1983.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1983
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Nov 1982
Calendar, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jun 1983
Section K, p. 7.
New York Times
24 Jun 1983.
---
Variety
8 Dec 1982.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion Pictures Release
John Daly and Carter De Haven present
A Seagoat Production
A film from Hemdale
An Orion Pictures Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr, American crew
2d asst dir, American crew
2d asst dir, American crew
Prod mgr, English crew
Prod mgr, English crew
1st asst dir, English crew
1st asst dir, English crew
Prod mgr, Mexican crew
Prod mgr, Mexican crew
1st asst dir, Mexican crew
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Still photog, English crew
Cam op, English crew
Cam asst, English crew
Cam, Mexican crew
Cam op, Mexican crew
1st asst cam, Mexican crew
Gaffer, Mexican crew
Key grip, Mexican crew
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir, English crew
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed, American crew
2d asst ed, American crew
2d asst ed, American crew
SET DECORATORS
Alfred De Gaetano
Const coord, American crew
Painter, American crew
Painter, American crew
Set dec, English crew
Set dec, English crew
Prop master, English crew
Const mgr, English crew
Set dec, Mexican crew
Prop master, Mexican crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward, American crew
Ward mistress, English crew
Ward supplier, English crew
Ward supv, Mexican crew
MUSIC
Scoring eng, American crew
Scoring eng, American crew
Mus ed, American crew
Mus ed, American crew
Orch, American crew
SOUND
Rerec, American crew
John "Doc" Wilkinson
Rerec mixer, American crew
Rerec mixer, American crew
Rerec mixer, American crew
Sd eff, American crew
Sd eff, American crew
Dial ed, American crew
Sd mixer, English crew
Boom op, English crew
Sd mixer, Mexican crew
Boom man, Mexican crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main title created by
Spec eff, American crew
Spec eff, English crew
Spec eff, Mexican crew
Titles by
Opticals by
MAKEUP
Chief hairdresser, English crew
Chief make-up artist, English crew
Make-up, Mexican crew
Hairstylist, Mexican crew
Wigs, Mexican crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv, American crew
Unit pub, American crew
Captain of the Bounty, American crew
Boat master, American crew
Loc auditor, American crew
Loc auditor, American crew
Asst to Mr. Damski, American crew
Asst to Mr. De Haven, American crew
Prod asst, American crew
Prod asst, American crew
Addl casting, English crew
Cont, English crew
Loc mgr, English crew
Prod coord, English crew
Seagoat rep, English crew
Historical researcher, English crew
Prod secy, Mexican crew
Prod secy, Mexican crew
Extras delegate, Mexican crew
Censor, Mexican crew
Transportation coord, Mexican crew
Prod services in Mexico provided by
STAND INS
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stunt coord, American crew
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Yellow Beard
Release Date:
24 June 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 Jun 1983; New York opening: 24 Jun 1983
Production Date:
Oct--Dec 1982
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses by Panavision®
Prints
Color prints by DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26905
SYNOPSIS

On a Spanish galleon in 1687, aristocrat El Nebuloso and his second-in-command, El Segundo, abscond with a treasure chest intended for their king. A band of pirates, led by the dreaded Yellowbeard, descend on the ship and seize the treasure. Although his boatswain, Moon, planned the attack, Yellowbeard refuses to share the treasure, and as he slams the chest shut, Moon’s left hand is severed. Yellowbeard continues his reign of terror, killing more than 500 men, until a betrayal by Moon leads to his twenty-year prison sentence for tax evasion. Despite years of rehabilitation and torture, Yellowbeard refuses to divulge the location of the treasure. During the final week of his incarceration, Yellowbeard is informed by his wife, Betty, that they have a son named Dan. The pirate is horrified to learn that the boy was raised by Lord Percy Lambourn to be an intellectual and a gardener. Dan, however, is fascinated by the idea that his father is the most ruthless pirate of all time. Meanwhile, Commander Clement of the Royal Secret Service coerces Queen Anne to extend Yellowbeard’s sentence an additional 140 years, hoping the pirate will escape and lead authorities to his treasure. As predicted, Yellowbeard breaks out of prison and makes his way to Betty’s tavern in search of the treasure map. Betty reveals that she tattooed it onto Dan’s head before destroying the original, and directs Yellowbeard to Lambourn Hall, where the boy lives with his mentor. On the advice of informant Harvey “Blind” Pew, Commander Clement follows Yellowbeard into the tavern, but the pirate evades him. Moon’s henchman, Gilbert, questions Blind ...

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On a Spanish galleon in 1687, aristocrat El Nebuloso and his second-in-command, El Segundo, abscond with a treasure chest intended for their king. A band of pirates, led by the dreaded Yellowbeard, descend on the ship and seize the treasure. Although his boatswain, Moon, planned the attack, Yellowbeard refuses to share the treasure, and as he slams the chest shut, Moon’s left hand is severed. Yellowbeard continues his reign of terror, killing more than 500 men, until a betrayal by Moon leads to his twenty-year prison sentence for tax evasion. Despite years of rehabilitation and torture, Yellowbeard refuses to divulge the location of the treasure. During the final week of his incarceration, Yellowbeard is informed by his wife, Betty, that they have a son named Dan. The pirate is horrified to learn that the boy was raised by Lord Percy Lambourn to be an intellectual and a gardener. Dan, however, is fascinated by the idea that his father is the most ruthless pirate of all time. Meanwhile, Commander Clement of the Royal Secret Service coerces Queen Anne to extend Yellowbeard’s sentence an additional 140 years, hoping the pirate will escape and lead authorities to his treasure. As predicted, Yellowbeard breaks out of prison and makes his way to Betty’s tavern in search of the treasure map. Betty reveals that she tattooed it onto Dan’s head before destroying the original, and directs Yellowbeard to Lambourn Hall, where the boy lives with his mentor. On the advice of informant Harvey “Blind” Pew, Commander Clement follows Yellowbeard into the tavern, but the pirate evades him. Moon’s henchman, Gilbert, questions Blind Pew about the location of the map, but the informant refuses to assist pirates. Yellowbeard confronts his son at Lambourn Hall, declaring that he needs to remove the boy’s head. Dan asks to remain intact and join his father on the treasure hunt. They consult Dr. Ebenezer Gilpin, who advises Yellowbeard to pose as a scientist on a voyage of discovery. Gilpin, Dan, and Lord Lambourn sign on as traveling companions. Blind Pew listens outside the office and informs Commander Clement of the group’s departure. Moon and Gilbert eliminate Blind Pew by locking him inside a shed full of explosives and detonating them. The next morning, while Yellowbeard wreaks havoc in a brothel, Moon and Gilbert infiltrate a group of sailors and take Dan, Lord Lambourn, and Dr. Gilpin aboard the battleship, Lady Edith. As the ship sets sail, Yellowbeard stows away in the hold, while Captain Hughes lectures the men of their duty in England’s war against France. Certain that Yellowbeard is aboard, Moon organizes a mutiny and elects Dan the new captain. Dan places the ship on a course to Madagascar, but during the night, Yellowbeard takes the helm and guides it toward the West Indies. Guided by Yellowbeard’s wife, Betty, Commander Clement pursues the Lady Edith. He flies the French flag to avoid suspicion, and inadvertently attracts cannon fire from the battleship, forcing him to retreat. When the crew of the Lady Edith sights an island, Yellowbeard jumps overboard and swims ashore. Meanwhile, in El Nebuloso’s hilltop fortress, an underling named Verdugo demonstrates his latest torture device, designed to break every bone in the human body. To further intimidate victims, it is suspended on a walkway over a pool of acid, to which nothing is impervious except gold and jewels. As the crew arrive on shore, Dr. Gilpin consults the map on Dan’s scalp and leads a small party to the other side of the island. El Segundo assumes the landing party is searching for Yellowbeard’s treasure and rallies his troops against the invaders, taking Dan prisoner. The boy is placed in the torture device, but refuses to talk. El Nebuloso’s daughter, Triola, begs Dan to lead her father to the treasure, “for the grace and glory of God.” When Dan suggests that torture is inconsistent with Christian ideals, Triola explains her father’s desire to expedite his victims’ entry into heaven. After Dan and Triola declare their love for each other, he promises to find the treasure and return for her, although El Nebuloso may be killed in the process. The avaricious Triola voices her approval. Elsewhere in the castle, El Nebuloso instructs El Segundo to feign resistance as the invaders approach the castle, enabling him to trap their leaders in the torture chamber. Yellowbeard joins Dr. Gilpin and Lord Lambourn as they lead their men into the fortress. Although guards pretend to fall dead at their feet, Yellowbeard proceeds to dispatch all in his path, including El Segundo, who dies a highly dramatic death, and receives a round of applause from his men. Upon entering the torture chamber, Dan’s comrades find El Nebuloso threatening the boy with a sword. Yellowbeard swings from a rope and pushes the despot into the acid. Triola enters as Dan is set free, and she is happy to learn that her father is in heaven with all of the people he sent there. Moon leads his band of mutineers into the chamber and a sword fight ensues. Yellowbeard offers Dan the opportunity to fight Moon, but Triola intervenes and pushes the boatswain into the acid. Returning to the beach, Yellowbeard uses his sword to shave the top of Dan’s head, revealing the map. When they unearth the treasure, Dan embraces his father, accidentally stabbing him with a dagger. Yellowbeard is proud of his son for adhering to the family tradition of patricide. Clement confiscates the treasure in the name of Queen Anne, prompting Triola to reject Dan and declare her love for the commander. Later, while Commander Clement considers keeping the treasure for himself, Dan and Yellowbeard burst into his cabin and take control of the ship. Triola has renewed affection for Dan, and Yellowbeard declares, “There’s pirating to be done.”

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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