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When bookseller Buzz cons Diana into thinking fellow bookseller Stanley knows a great deal about Africa they are abducted and ordered to lead Diana and her henchmen to an African tribe. After encounters with lion tamers, giant apes and a wild river, Buzz returns to America. Stanley finds diamonds and buys the store they once worked for, hiring Buzz as its elevator operator.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
If one can ignore the racism of the scenes set in Africa, or at least accept that this was a staple of Hollywood at the time, and can't be changed, then there's a lot to enjoy in "Africa Screams." It's not Abbott and Costello's best film, but it is one of their better later ones, with Lou contributing a very energetic performance, which can't always be said of post-"A&C Meet Frankenstein" films from the team. There isn't really a story here, just a premise, in which Abbott and Costello are drawn into a shady African expedition because the person in charge, played by Hillary Brooke, thinks Costello has memorized a map from a book that will lead her to a diamond mine. The transition from New York to Africa and back again is done in the finest "Well, here we are on the moon!" style employed in radio comedy shows, and of course, the jungle sets are patently phony, but it hardly matters. This is really a burlesque show without the strippers, careening from one barely-related, but often very funny, routine to another. The Baer brothers, Max and Buddy, are the heavies (Lon Chaney, Jr., must have been busy that month) and Stooges Shemp Howard and Joe Besser act as something of a secondary team, with Shemp playing a visually-impaired thug while Joe, doing his usual sissy routine, is forced to act as his guide-dog. Animal trainers Clyde Beatty and Frank Buck are there, too, because...well because they could be. There is one funny scene of Beatty doing his lion taming act while Costello, who is also trapped in the cage, desperately crawls around underneath a wicker stand trying to escape. There are also people in gorilla suits, rubber crocodiles, and those unfortunate bone-in-the-nose cannibals, one of whom oddly sports a skipper's hat. A&C's best director, Charles Barton, keeps everything moving to an absurd end, but the point is not to take any of this seriously.
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