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Film: Yellowbeard
Yellowbeard is a 1983 comedy film starring Graham Chapman, along with Peter Cook, Bernard McKenna and David Sherlock. It was directed by Mel Damski, and was Marty Feldman's last film appearance.

In the 17th century, the pirate Yellowbeard was incarcerated for twenty years for tax evasion — apart from his years terrorizing the high seas. He survives the sentence without disclosing the whereabouts of his vast treasure ("...in spite of twenty years of rehabilitation. And torture."). The Royal Navy hatches a plot to increase his sentence by one hundred and forty years, knowing that he'll escape in a rage to set out for his treasure. This he does, recruiting a motley crew of companions. He left a map of the treasure in the chimney of his wife's pub, but she burned it — however, she also had it tattooed on their son's head. Things go wrong when his former shipmate-turned-traitor Bosun Moon's press gangs take over their ship. With the head of the Secret Service hot on their trail they eventually find the island, where a group of AWOL Spanish conquistadors have taken residence with their ill-gotten gains, and the battle for the treasure commences...


Yellowbeard contains examples of:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The eponymous pirate has committed a long list of heinous crimes, but he was finally convicted for tax evasion.
  • All-Star Cast: Graham Chapman in the title role, and a colorful lineup of comic and character actors supporting him: in alphabetical order, Peter Boyle, Cheech & Chong, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Marty Feldman, Michael Hordern, Eric Idle, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, James Mason, Spike Milligan, Beryl Reid, and Susannah York. And an unbilled cameo by David Bowie! It definitely qualifies.
    • Sting was at one point tied to be the lead character but he was rejected by Hollywood executives backing the film on the grounds that he would have made the film "too British." Yes, someone out there thought that a film about the Golden Age of Piracy, with a 90% British cast, could be too British.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Betty and Yellowbeard's relationship seems to thrive on this, which is good because Yellowbeard loves rape.
    Betty: Do you remember before you were arrested we were havin a cuddle?
    Yellowbeard: I was raping ya, if that's what you mean.
    Betty: Alright, sort of was half-cuddle, half-rape.
  • Buxom Is Better: Middle-aged Lady Lambourn's curtsy gives Yellowbeard a long look at her breasts, enticing him to ravish her in the shrubbery. She doesn't seem to mind, however.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Betty (Madeline Kahn) tells her son Dan (Martin Hewitt):
    "The last time I read a book, I was raped — let that be a lesson to you."
  • Captain Colorbeard: Yellowbeard's habit of putting fuses in his beard makes him an Expy of Blackbeard.
  • Cardboard Prison: It's implied that Yellowbeard could have left prison any time he wanted to, but he honorably served his jail time - and was insulted by the arbitrary lengthening of his sentence.
  • Cash Lure
  • Coin-on-a-String Trick: Subverted in that the idiot sidekick gives Pew all of his money back and then some, mocking "Hah!"
  • Crosscast Role: Queen Anne is played by Peter Bull (whom most viewers would know from Dr. Strangelove, in which he played the Soviet ambassador).
  • Cut Himself Shaving: A bar fight with Blind Pew leaves the entire tavern littered with corpses.
    Clement: What happened?
    Betty: Plague!
    Clement: Plague?
    Betty: All sudden like! Lucky I was out.
    Clement: That man's got a sword in him!
    Betty: He fell on it.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Triola, daughter of the greedy religious leader El Nebuloso.
  • The Dung Ages: Literally, with a girl throwing shit in people's faces if they don't give her money. Lambourn gives her a little payback.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Played with when Betty is taken captive by the Royal Navy and pumped for information offscreen. When she's ready to talk, she says, "I think it was that shark that jogged my memory." "The Shark" is the handsome sailor (David Bowie) who brings her into the office, and who has a shark's fin strapped to his back; he "jogged her memory" via sex.
  • Genre Savvy: Yellowbeard.
  • Girls with Moustaches: "Mr. Prostitute" is obviously a woman wearing a false moustache.
  • A God Am I: El Nebuloso. He even points to himself when saying everyone must serve God.
  • Gold Digger: Triola, and Dan doesn't seem to care.
  • Human Notepad: Dan, the son of Yellowbeard, has a treasure-map tattooed on his head.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Yellowbeard, at least when trying to get rid of maps.
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: The narrator at the beginning, after giving a laundry list of the title character's atrocities, including tearing men's hearts out and swallowing them whole, and "Often forcing men to eat their own lips, he was eventually caught and imprisoned...for tax evasion."
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The impetus of the story is the fact the Royal Navy wanted to increase his sentence of 140 years so that he escapes and recovers his treasure.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: "Us Yellowbeards are never more dangerous than when we're dead!"
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Dan, and Yellowbeard can't be more pleased when Dan "betrays" him.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    Dr. Gilpin: And that's Dr. Anthrax.
    Betty: That's Yellowbeard.
    Yellowbeard: I'm in disguise, you stupid tart!
    • Also, Mr. Prostitute.
    • Lampshaded in one scene.
      Captain Hughes: What's that?
      Mr. Crisp: Oh, that's my box, sir.
      Captain Hughes: No, carrying your box.
      Mr. Crisp: Oh, Cabin Boy Smith, sir.
      Captain Hughes: Smith has tits.
      Mr. Crisp: He's been a bit ill, sir.
      Captain Hughes: Get her off!
  • Pirate
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Yellowbeard is in a British prison and one of the guards attempts to discipline him by beating him with a stout wooden rod. Yellowbeard doesn't notice.
  • Seadog Beard
  • Second Face Smoke: Mr. Pew has smoke blown in his face, but he coughs in an extremely dignified way twice before continuing as before.
  • The Stoner: Lord Lambourn. In keeping with the times, he's addicted to snuff.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Betty: You're all going after the treasure!
    The men: No!
    Lord Lambourn: Uh, botanical...
    Yellowbeard: Killing plants!
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Spoofed. One of the ship's officers is named "Mr. Prostitute" and is an obvious woman with a fake mustache.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Parodied, of course. The prison guard whips Yellowbeard to get his attention - Yellowbeard treats it like the guard was tapping him on the shoulder.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Dan finally learns what it means to be a Yellowbeard. "Us Yellowbeards are never more dangerous than when we're dead!"
    • Even foppish stoner Lord Lambourn gets off a good, "Arrrrrrrrrrrr."
  • Treasure Map
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Dan and Yellowbeard, oh so much.
    Yellowbeard: Oh, been out raping, lad? (sees Troila) Nice work lad.
    Dan: No, I haven't raped her!
    Yellowbeard: (disappointed) No, you wouldn't have you poncy little git! You're not the prawn of my loins, your mother's a bloody liar! (grins) That's what I liked about her!


Warrior of the Lost WorldFilms of the 1980sYentl

alternative title(s): Yellowbeard
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