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Roughest Africa (1923)

5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 133 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

Two explorers travel to Africa to capture and photograph various wildlife.

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Title: Roughest Africa (1923)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Katherine Grant ...
Mrs. Laurello
James Finlayson ...
Lt. Hans Downe (Little Boss)
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Storyline

Two African Explorers, Stanislaus Laurello and Hans Downe, travel round Africa, from Los Angeles to Hollywood, trying to capture and photograph animals, but have more encounters than they had hoped for. Some animals encountered are bears, emu's, an elephant and a family of lions. Written by Paul L

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Genres:

Comedy | Short

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Details

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Release Date:

30 September 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'Afrique nous barbe  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Featured in Mad Movies: Episode #1.9 (1965) See more »

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Not too rough
22 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This Stan Laurel starring short is really a parody of a genre of film that doesn't exist in the same form anymore and isn't seen very much as the original: the imperialist travelogue documentary in which a self- important scientist figure satisfies the audience's curiosity about the "primitive" parts of the world.

Stan Laurel's work as a solo comedian wasn't on the whole up to his work when paired with Oliver Hardy, but he was often brilliant when burlesquing something else, and his take on the dark-continent travelogue sometimes hits some real bullseyes. In story terms there's nothing really there, but if it's a gagfest, it is a gagfest that has a good number of really inspired gags. Most of them involve some wonderful visual madness, including Stan being revealed as "fifth from the left" on a log full of monkeys, the few essentials growing more and more elaborate to incorporate a bass fiddle, a piano, and a car, and a chase with some wild animals that is shot from afar and humorously recut to make as little sense as possible.

The films being parodied here often impressed with their wild animal photography, and I think this short actually one-betters them. We get some really extremely impressive close-up shots of wild animals, and -- to all appearances -- our stars seem to be performing their knockabout comedy right around or in some cases with them. I've rarely seen film of tigers that close up, let along while someone is taking the risk of using one in a comedy routine. At one point James Finlayson really seems to have his legs caught underneath an elephant. In mocking his mark's reliance on impressive wild animal photography, Stan gives us wild animal photography just as impressive, with a layer of comedy on top.

In all, this is a very impressive short, if in some instances for reasons that may not be the most immediately apparent, timeless, typical of a comedy short.


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