AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Cohens and Kellys in Africa
Director: Vin Moore (Dir)
Release Date:   19 Jan 1931
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 19 Dec 1930
Duration (in mins):   68 or 70
Duration (in feet):   7,225
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   George Sidney (Mr. [Nathan] Cohen)  
    Charlie Murray (Mr. [Patrick] Kelly)  
    Vera Gordon (Mrs. Cohen)  
    Kate Price (Mrs. Kelly)  
    Frank Davis (Windjammer Thorne)  
    Lloyd Whitlock (Sheik [Abdul Hassan Cafa])  
    Eddie Kane (Chief Zulu)  
    Nick Cogley (Guide)  
    Demetrios Alexis (Sheik's aide)  
    Georgette Rhodes (Dancer)  
    Rene Marvelle (Dancer)  
    Louis John Bartels    

Summary: Patrick Kelly and Nathan Cohen operate a piano business that is faltering due to the lack of ivory for keys. Outside their office they discover Windjammer Thorne, a fast-talking patent medicine salesman who claims to know about ivory conditions in Africa. Under the guidance of Thorne, Cohen and Kelly, accompanied by their wives, depart for Mombasa, which is on the African coast. Before travelling inland to the Zulu village of Gumbo Gumbo, Mrs. Cohen and Mrs. Kelly catch their husbands flirting with two French floozies in a speakeasy. They arrive eventually at the village, where the women stay while Cohen, Kelly, Thorne and their guide trek through the jungle in search of ivory. The wives are kidnapped by a group of gorillas, and the female apes appropriate the women's outer garments. Meanwhile the men, captured by cannibals, dress up in lion skins and effect an escape. Cohen and Kelly, again lost in the brush, wander into another native village where they find an old friend, Sam Ginsberg of Brooklyn, who three years earlier made a deal with the natives and stayed on as their elected chief. Cohen and Kelly make a deal with the chief, betting his huge supply of ivory on the winner of a miniature golf competition, which Ginsberg has introduced to the natives. Cohen defeats Ginsberg's pro in a match with a miraculous stroke on the last hole. Learning from the jungle drums that their wives have been abducted, the husbands fear the worst when they find the female gorillas dressed in their wives' clothing. After they are reunited with Thorne and his men, Thorne tells them their spouses are being held in the harem of Sheik Abdul Hassan Cafa. At the sheik's palace, he agrees to exchange their ivory for their wives. Cohen refuses to sign away the ivory, and a series of chases follow, which result in the release of their wives and the capture of the sheik and his guards. Cohen and Kelly inform their wives of their newly found wealth, for not only have they secured a large shipment of ivory, but they have also sold off their old piano inventory to the natives, who quickly master the instrument. Many of the jungle animals also learn to play, including the gorillas who mimic "Mammy." 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Production Text: Carl Laemmle, President
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Director: Vin Moore (Dir)
Producer: Carl Laemmle (Pres)
  Carl Laemmle Jr. (Prod)
  Albert DeMond (Assoc prod)
Writer: Edward Luddy (Story)
  Lew Lipton (Story)
  Vin Moore (Story)
  William K. Wells (Scr and dial)
  Maurice Pivar (Dial)
Photography: Hal Mohr (Cine)
Art Direction: Charles D. Hall (Art dir)
Film Editor: James Morley (Film ed)
  Maurice Pivar (Supv film ed)
Sound: C. Roy Hunter (Rec supv)
Country: United States
Series: Cohens and Kellys

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Corp. 24/12/1930 dd/mm/yyyy LP1837

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: Jungle
Subjects (Major): Africa
  Americans in foreign countries
  Irish Americans
  Wild animals
Subjects (Minor): Abduction
  Golf, Miniature
  Piano makers

Note: Although there was an entry for this film in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 (F2.0954), its actual release date was 19 Jan 1931. In 1926, Universal released the The Cohens and Kellys , the first of a series of eight films featuring the "Cohen and Kelly" characters. The Cohens and Kellys was based on Aaron Hoffman's play, Two Blocks Away (New York, 1925), and starred Charlie Murray, George Sidney, Vera Gordon and Kate Price (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.0953). The Cohens and Kellys in Africa was the sixth entry in the series and the first to be released in the thirties. George Sidney starred in all eight films as "Mr. Cohen," while Vera Gordon and Kate Price left the series in 1931. Other cast members playing continuous featured roles include Mack Swain, J. Farrell MacDonald, Emma Dunn and Esther Howard. For more information consult the Series Index. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   21 Dec 30   p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald   8 Nov 30   p. 41.
New York Times   20 Dec 30   p. 20.
Variety   24 Dec 30   p. 21.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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