Africa Screams
Lobby card for the film
Directed by Charles Barton
Produced by Edward Nassour and Huntington Hartford
Written by Earl Baldwin
Martin Ragaway
Leonard Stern
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Clyde Beatty
Frank Buck
Shemp Howard
Joe Besser
Music by Walter Schumann
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) May 4, 1949 (New York City, New York)
May 27, 1949
Running time 80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Africa Screams is a 1949 comedy film starring Abbott and Costello and directed by Charles Barton.


Diana Emerson (Hillary Brooke) is in the book department of Klopper's Department store looking for a copy of the book Dark Safari, written by the famed explorer Cuddleford. Buzz Johnson (Bud Abbott) overhears Diana saying that she will pay $2,500 for a map that is inside that book. He devises a plan to pass off his friend Stanley Livington (Lou Costello) as a great explorer who accompanied Cuddleford on the expedition described in the book. With claims that he can reproduce the map, the two men go to Diana's home that very night. They agree to accompany her on an African expedition, and when Bud overhears that Clyde Beatty has been offered $20,000 to lead the expedition, he feels that the map is worth considerably more than $2,500.

They travel to Africa, along with Diana's team of explorers, including Harry (Joe Besser), 'Boots' Wilson (Buddy Baer), 'Grappler' McCoy (Max Baer) and Gunner (Shemp Howard), a nearsighted professional hunter. The boys learn that the true expedition is for diamonds rather than exploration, and Buzz plans to renegotiate the deal. Unfortunately Stanley cannot reproduce the map, as he has never seen it, and the two attempt to bluff their way around the jungle. Eventually the entire expeditionary team arrives at a cannibal village, where the chief offers several diamonds in exchange for Stanley ("Chief have sweet tooth," explains his translator.). They start to chase Stanley all over the place, while Buzz buries the diamonds before the tribal warriors are finally frightened away by a large gorilla (Charles Gemora). Meanwhile, another gorilla has dug up the diamonds that Buzz has hidden.

Some time after returning to the United States, Stanley owns the department store, along with the gorilla, and Buzz works for them as the elevator operator.[1]


Africa Screams was filmed from November 10 through December 22, 1948 at the Nassour Studios in Los Angeles.[2] The film was produced by A&P Heir Huntington Hartford. The film was the first one of the independently financed productions that Abbott and Costello made while they were under contract with Universal, and it was released by United Artists.[1] Clyde Beatty provided his own animals for the film.[3]

The subplot regarding the affectionate gorilla originally presented a female simian pursuing Costello. However, the Breen Office censors that enforced the Production Code in Hollywood demanded that the gorilla's gender be changed because they felt a female gorilla's pursuit of a man would be on par with bestiality.[4]

Africa Screams marked the first time that Abbott and Costello worked with Hillary Brooke and Joe Besser; both actors would later become part of the ensemble cast for the duo's television series The Abbott and Costello Show.[1] The film also marked the only time that Joe Besser and Shemp Howard appeared together in a film; Besser would replace Howard as one of the Three Stooges following the latter's death in 1955.[4]

DVD releasesEdit

As this film is in the public domain in the United States, there have been at least a dozen DVD releases from a variety of public domain companies over the years. The image below is a screenshot from the colorized version released by Legend Films in 2005.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jim Mulholland (1977). The Abbott and Costello Book. Popular Library. pp. 181–185. 
  3. p. 35 Hobbies magazine, Volume 53, Issues 7-12Lightner Pub. Co., 1948
  4. 4.0 4.1 Phil Hall (January 20, 2006). "The Bootleg Files: "Africa Screams"". Film Threat. 

External linksEdit