This film is held by the BFI (ID: 111961).


CARTOON. Trigger-happy big game hunter, Flip The Frog, is captured by cannibals. They attempt to cook him in a cauldron. Flip escapes after playing a flute melody which leads the flames away from the cauldron and after the men of the village but he voluntarily plunges back in after he is crowned king by the amorous women of the community.



Africa Squeaks was one of thirty-eight Flip the Frog cartoons produced by Ub Iwerks between 1930 and 1933. Iwerks had worked closely alongside Walt Disney and his ‘contribution had been decisive’ in the creation and early animation of Mickey Mouse, with whom Flip the Frog –who at one point was going to be named Tony –shares many similarities (Horn, 1999, 279). However, Iwerks left Disney after receiving an offer from Pat Powers in 1930 to set up his own animation studio at Powers’ Celebrity Pictures. The Flip the Frog cartoons, although distributed by MGM, did not enjoy the commercial success of their Disney counterparts, and Iwerks replaced Flip with a new character, Willie Whopper in 1933. Iwerk’s studio closed in 1936 and, after briefly working for Columbia, he returned to Disney in 1940, and worked particularly on developing special technical effects.

The title Africa Squeaks responds directly to the popular 1930 travelogue Africa Speaks and is one of a number of films – such as the 1931 Vitagraph Variety Africa Shrieks – to exploit this earlier work. A Looney Tunes cartoon from 1940 adopted the same name, although it responded more closely to Stanley and Livingstone (1939) as it featured Porky alongside Spencer Tracy. Africa Squeaks, in its depiction of Africans as cannibals, is perhaps best viewed in the context of other cartoons.

The cannibal stereotype was popularised in earlier cartoons, such as Alice Cans the Cannibals (1925), on which Iwerks worked, Felix Tees off for the Big Africa Games (1926) which featured jungle cannibals attempting to eat Felix, Pathé’s 1926 short Jerry is too Canny for the Cannibals and Cannibal Capers (1930). Indeed most popular series appeared to feature the cartoon cannibal, from Mickey Mouse in Trader Mickey (1932) and Mickey’s Man Friday, to the Popeye cartoon, Pop-Pie A La Mode (1945),and Tom and Jerry’s encounter with cannibals in His Mouse Friday (1951). The cannibal would reappear in Iwerks’ own 1934 Willie Whopper cartoon, Jungle Jitters, while a 1938 film of the same name, virtually replicated the final scene from Africa Squeaks as the rescued white hero jumps back into the cannibal cookpot in order to avoid the advances of the local queen.



Flip the Frog, walking on two legs, clothed and shooting a gun, is, as with Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters, a most human character. Other animals within the cartoon are equally anthropomorphised, as in one scene, which generates comedy by ridiculing the notion of ‘dangerous’ jungle exploration, a lion sits on a chair, holds some flowers and poses for a photograph (the camera is actually a gun). Yet as the animals are assigned human characteristics, there is little distinction between the animals and the Africans that they meet. Indeed the Africans, emerging from the jungle undergrowth, are represented as cartoon animals. Their depiction as cannibals –while trying to eat a frog – illustrates the equal footing on which the Africans and the animal characters are placed.

Many cartoons position characters within this imagined jungle setting, and in many respects this film merely exaggerates stereotypes, familiar from earlier fiction such as the Edgar Wallace novels. The local people carry spears and, as it were, frogmarch Flip to their King; they dance beside the pot while holding knife and fork; the fat King, with earrings, sits on his throne; a skull lies on the ground. In the film’s conclusion Flip chooses to return to the pot in order to avoid the kisses of the local women who appoint him their King. While this comic sequence should not be read too deeply, the cartoon would appear to illustrate the acceptance within the comic cartoon genre of racial stereotypes. Indeed, it could be argued that Africa Squeaks follows the racial dynamics, popularised in earlier influential Hollywood films, like The Birth of a Nation (1915), in illustrating a protagonist seemingly choosing death over the sexual advances of a black character, and in depicting African women as sexually uncontrolled.

Tom Rice (March 2008)


Works Cited

Horn, Maurice, The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons – Revised and Updated (Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House, 1999).

Webb, Graham, The Animated Film Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to American Shorts, Features and Sequences, 1900-1979 (Jefferson, N.C: McFarland, 2000).




Technical Data

Running Time:
8 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
16mm Film
289 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
cast member
Flip the Frog
Production Company
Celebrity Productions
Production Company