Cast & Crew
Filming Africa both from the ground and from their two small airplanes, Martin and Osa Johnson document the "Dark Continent." Martin's airplane, which is painted like a giraffe and named "The Spirit of Africa," accompanies Osa's airplane, which is painted like a zebra and is named "Osa's Ark." Together, they travel through Africa, capturing glimpses of the continent's natives, wildlife and geography on film. Aerial photography of Mt. Kenya is included in the film, as are scenes of a Masai village burial of two villagers killed by rhinoceroses. Also included is a scene in which Mrs. Johnson shoots down a charging rhinoceros. A bird's-eye view of Mt. Kilimanjaro is followed by a visit to a Pygmy camp and a trip to what is claimed to be the largest baboon colony ever found by an explorer. The film also includes footage of thousands of flamingoes taking to the air. Alligators, hippopotamuses, wildebeests, impalas, zebras, jackasses, giraffes, lions and many other African wild animals are shown in their natural habitat.
The title card preceding the credits reads: "Mr. and Mrs. Martin Johnson's Baboona, an aerial epic over Africa." The re-release version of the film, entitled Bride of the Beast, was dedicated to Martin Johnson, who died on January 13, 1937 in an airplane crash near Newhall, CA. Before releasing Baboona, the Johnsons released a silent version of the film, entitled Wings Over Africa (see below), which they used as a lecture film. According to the onscreen introduction, the Johnsons flew more than 60,000 miles over two years to bring back this picture of the "secrets of the Dark Continent." The introduction also notes that in addition to "telephoto and variable focus lenses, and the Akeley camera," this documentary uses "aerial photography and natural sound." The Motion Picture Herald review notes that at the film's New York opening, "the audience went into gales of hilarity at the antics of the monkeys and the natives." The review also comments on the picture's use of portable sound equipment to record the jungle noises in the film. For more information on the Johnsons and their films, see catalog entry below for Congorilla.