Africa Screams (1949)

Genres - Comedy, Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Jungle Film, Slapstick, Adventure Comedy  |   Release Date - May 4, 1949 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 79 min.  |   Countries - India, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Hans J. Wollstein

In the opening scenes of this independently produced Abbott and Costello comedy, Lou Costello is frightened by a kitten. Everyone who has ever seen an Abbott and Costello film of course knows what will happen next: Before you can say African diamonds and Hillary Brooke, a horrified Lou is confronted with all kinds of wildlife fauna, from Burton Wenland in a gorilla suit to Clyde Beatty's caged lions. Beatty testing his captured beasts before shipping them off to the circus is just one of the many politically incorrect episodes in this comedy, which also features African-American natives who turn chalk white at the sight of producer Huntington Hartford's ersatz King Kong. Lou Costello was famously frightened by Universal's veteran monster stars in the well-received Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), and Africa Screams takes full advantage of the comic possibilities that his terror provides. Bud Abbott's version of fear is that he simply faints dead away. The aforementioned Brooke, as handsome as ever, is wasted in her stock assignment as a scheming woman; brothers Max Baer and Buddy Baer are unceremoniously knocked unconscious by a gang of playful chimpanzees. Legendary big game hunter Frank Buck looks uncomfortable pretending to be in Darkest Africa and not a cheap back lot jungle. In other words, Africa Screams is for devotees of Lou Costello only.