Roughest Africa (1923)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Parody/Spoof  |   Run Time - 29 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Not one, but two epic documentaries about the wilds of Africa were released in 1923 (Hunting Big Game in Africa and Trailing African Wilds). It had been some months since Stan Laurel had made any parodies -- something he was famous for before he teamed up with Oliver Hardy -- and a safari seemed like a good subject to spoof. The two-reel Roughest Africa turned out to be a winner, with Laurel playing Stanislaus Laurello, an adventuresome professor, and James Finlayson as Hans Downe, Laurello's cameraman and sidekick. There's not much plot to speak of, and much of the action revolves around Stan chasing or being chased by a variety of wild animals, from lions to an ostrich to a porcupine. Laurello proves to be less than capable in the wild. He has a hard time shooting and hitting an elephant, even after drawing a target on the beast's head. Some sources falsely claim that future famed director George Stevens was the cinematographer on Roughest Africa; the credit actually goes to Frank Young.