It's every man for himself when Charles Laughton bites into the role of infamous 17th century pirate captain William Kidd. Hoping to further increase his ill-gotten gains, Captain Kidd inveigles King William III (Henry Daniel) into appointing him the "patriotic" protector of a valuable treasure ship. Ostensibly hired to fend off enemy vessels, Kidd intends to steal the ship's cargo for himself with the aid of his swarthy lieutenants William Moore (Gilbert Roland) and Orange Povy (John Carradine). The romantic subplot is carried by "honest" brigand Adam Merry (Randolph Scott) and kidnapped noblewoman Lady Ann Falconer (Barbara Britton). Charles Laughton reprised his part in the 1952 farce Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.