HOLMAN DAY – Clothes Make the Pirate. Harper & Brothers, hardcover, 1925. Grossett & Dunlap, hardcover, Photoplay edition.  Silent film: First National, 1925, starring Leon Errol and Dorothy Gish.

   I pause to appreciate the oddities of this world as I reflect that a book nearly a hundred years old turned up at Hussey’s General Store in Maine.

   Author Day alleges to have based his tale on an obscure historical record to the effect that the town of Pemaquid Maine was sacked sometime around 1770 by a Pirate known as Dixy Bull, who appears to have sailed off into the fog of History shortly thereafter.

   From this meager shard he fashioned a tale that would have made a fine vehicle for Bob Hope: The story of meek tailor Tidd in pre-revolution Boston, whose parents saddled him with the Christian name of Tremble-at-Evil, which seems to have fit him nicely, for he is henpecked at home, derided by his debtors, and pointedly ignored by his niece’s Redcoat paramour.

   Browbeaten by Boston, Tidd takes spiritual refuge in reading and re-reading an escapist epic, The Buccaneers of the Spanish Maine.  Indeed, his escapism has grown to the point where he has fashioned himself a suitably piratical outfit, purchased second-hand broadsword and cutlass, and practiced glowering in front of the mirror like a truly fearsome corsair.

   You’ve guessed where all this is headed. In short order, Tidd is mistaken for the notorious pirate captain Dixy Bull and finds himself in dubious command of a band of cut-throats on the high seas (well the coast of New England, actually, but High Seas sounds more romantic, don’t you think?)

   Holman Day takes an enjoyably light-hearted view of all this, and while Clothes is seldom actually funny, it is always consistently entertaining, especially as he winds up his story with the appearance of the actual Dixy Bull, thirsting for the blood of his impostor. Like I say, it would have made a fine vehicle for Bob Hope!