|Index||3 reviews in total|
A BABY BERLESK Short Subject.
Madam Cradlebait, Converter of Cannibals, arrives in the jungle in time to be captured by savages and popped into a big black cooking pot. Can the resident Ape Boy save this KID'IN' AFRICA in time?
Short, mildly amusing and thoroughly racist, this little film (which is a spoof of both TRADER HORN & TARZAN) is notable only as one of the early, pre-celebrity movie appearances by Shirley Temple. As ever, she is abundantly talented & cute as a button. The racism, while rather embarrassing, was not at all unusual in Hollywood films of this period.
Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
Back in the beginning of Shirley Temple's career, she was not
especially talented (but what four year-old is?) and she starred in a
series called "Baby Burlesk" by Educational Pictures. All of them
featured casts made up exclusively of kids who were barely older than
toddlers and the joke was that these tykes acted in roles traditionally
played by adults. So, you often see Shirley act the part of a vamp--and
the films are SUPER-uncomfortable to watch given today's sensibilities
(and the fact that the films would really appeal to pedophiles). While
"Kid 'in' Africa" does not have as many of the sexual overtones as most
of the other films, it more than makes up for it by being extremely
racist. The film is set in Africa and Shirley must contend with a
mostly black cast who want to eat her!! I am sure this would raise
quite a few eyebrows today and the notion that Africa is full of
cannibals is ridiculous.
By the way, the film has a few scenes that might actually make you laugh--but then you feel pretty ashamed of yourself for doing so. Creepy and nasty.
Okay, this short is about Shirley Temple going to Africa to humanize the cannibal population. That's disturbing since she was only 4 years old. Anyway, the racism is apparently obvious since all the African parts were played by young Black children. Shirley's character and the Tarzan boy are the only white characters who try to civilize the African cannibals. Anyway, it's disturbing to see 4 year old Shirley in a coffee cup with salt being thrown at her since she would be dinner for the cannibals. It's up to the Tarzan boy to save her. Maybe it's a spoof on other films but I felt really turned off by the racism in this short alone. They could have parodied Tarzan and others films about Africa a little better.
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