It concerned a low-rent Hollywood studio, the legend of which was proclaimed over the studio gates…
“If it’s good enough, it’s an Adequate Picture.”
Nassour Studios, now the location of the Richard Alonzo Community Day School, was actually ahead of its time, as it was constructed with television production in mind. And the quality of its films was far beyond Adequate.
I seem to recall being told that Africa Screams had been the second of the Abbott and Costello films (affectionately known as “the boys”) to be shot on location. The first was for Universal in Egypt. But apparently this was shot on the Nassour lot, with real crocodiles and gorillas being brought in from Africa for the production.
The Classic Flix release continues a very nice standard of quality.
Derived from problematic reels of original negative, with fine grain master to fill in missing or damaged footage, I was expecting something that would work for fans of the duo, but with some minor digital problems aside, the release via the 3-D Film Archive, is far better than one might expect for government work.
For those who desire facts, here’s what I mean regarding minor problems.
The Nassour logo, has “magnetic” grain around the spotlight beams.
A frozen title card without moving grain, during the main titles.
Some minor digital artifacts around the high grass at the left of the frame during the famous “kitten with a whip” sequence.
From a nominal seating distance, viewers aren’t going to see these register.
Gray scale is overall, very pleasant, a few timing bumps at the tail of some shots, which again won’t be noted. Black levels vary slightly, but are better than acceptable.
Audio is without problems, and sounds natural for the era.
As a film that’s been in public domain hell since 1977, it’s nice to finally see a quality release from original elements.
Cinematographer Charles Van Enger, also shot Meet Frankenstein and Meet the Killer Boris Karloff.
As a comparison, and nothing against those who did the clean-up on the Laurel and Hardy films, Africa Screams shines.
When the actual ape, brought in for the shoot, became occasionally amorous, the studio hired Charles Gemora, who probably played more apes than any other actor in Hollywood. He was also a production designer and artist. It was rumored that, on set, crew could not tell the difference between the real ape and Mr. Gemora, but felt a bit safer in his company. I’m told that he also smelled better.
Here is a rare image of him, not in an ape outfit.
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Image – 4.25
Audio – 5
Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from DVD – without a doubt!
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