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The African Queen [1951 film] by John Huston

The African Queen [1951 film] (1951)

by John Huston (Director), James Agee (Screenwriter), Jack Cardiff (Cinematographer), Sam P. Eagle (Producer), C. S. Forester (Novel)3 more, Sam Spiegel (Producer), Peter Viertel (Writer), John Woolf (Producer)

Other authors: Theodore Bikel (Actor), Humphrey Bogart (Actor), Peter Bull (Actor), Katherine Hepburn (Actor), Robert Morley (Actor)

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1573119,364 (4.29)2
At the start of World War I, German imperial troops burn down a mission in Africa. The mission's reverend was so overtaken with disappointment that he passes away. Shortly after his well-educated, snooty sister Rose buries her brother, she must leave on the only available transport, the 'African Queen' steamboat. The boat is manned by the ill-mannered bachelor, Charlie. Together they embark on a long difficult journey, without any comfort. Rose grows determined to assist in the British war effort and presses Charlie until he finally agrees and together they steam up the Ulana encountering an enemy fort, raging rapids, bloodthirsty parasites and an endlessly branching stream which always seems to lead them to what appear to be impenetrable swamps. Despite their opposing personalities, the two grow closer to each other and ultimately carry out their plan to take out a German warship.… (more)

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Showing 2 of 2
The African Queen (1951)

Humphrey Bogart – Charlie Allnut
Katharine Hepburn – Rose Sayer

Robert Morley – Rev. Samuel Sayer
Peter Bull – Captain of Louisa
Theodore Bikel – First Officer
Walter Gotell – Second Officer

Screenplay by John Huston, James Agee, Peter Viertel and John Collier, based on the novel (1935) by C. S. Forester
Directed by John Huston

Euro Video, 2001. 100 min. 4:3. Mono. Permanent German subtitles!


Humphrey Bogart got his only Oscar for this performance. I happen to think Marlon Brando deserved it more for Stanley Kowalski, but this is not to say Bogie didn’t do a wonderful job. Fredric March for Death of a Salesman and Monty Clift for A Place in the Sun were also nominated for Best Leading Actor. Quite a movie year! (Why Bogie was not even nominated for his stellar work in The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, In a Lonely Place and Sabrina I shall never understand.)

Charlie Allnut is unlike any character Bogie ever played. He is certainly nothing like the tough private dicks on hard cases and the cynical owners of shady clubs for which Bogie has become legendary. Charlie is a perfectly ordinary fellow, Canadian as it were, good-natured and loquacious, doing some brisk business with his African Queen, a rickety 30-year-old 30-foot steamboat which is somehow, miraculously, floating. Except for the first twenty and the last ten minutes, the whole movie takes place aboard this unique vessel.

There happens the unlikely romance between Charlie and one, as he describes her with more temper than justice, “crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid!” It is often compared to The Beachcomber (1938), but it’s really nothing like it. Laughton and Lanchester are more like an inverted version of The Taming of the Shrew. Bogie and Kate have a subtler and harder task. Their romance is very well-written, but by no means is it actor-proof. Lesser actors would have made it farcical and ridiculous. But these two make it charming and touching. The role of a priggish and prudish Methodist spinster was not exactly typical of Hepburn either, but she makes you believe she was born for it. It’s quite a journey of self-discovery for the old gal: “I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating!” Oh, Rosie, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

The movie has its flaws. The opening and the closing scenes in particular, despite the lovely colours and the sweaty splendour on location, are not on par with the romance (mixed with a good deal of adventure), although the noisy beginning in the church is a nice parody of missionary work – the most insane work ever attempted by presumably sane people. The movie is not titled The African Queen for nothing. When the title character is not on the screen, the whole thing makes little sense.

But the rest, and that means most of it, is pretty much perfect. It repays careful watching and re-watching better than many much more spectacular productions. It can be enjoyed, as every classic, on a number of levels. The versatility of Bogart and Hepburn is one, the craftsmanship of Huston is another, the third and most important is the purely human story of two people who know themselves much better by the end of the journey. May we all learn that well! ( )
1 vote Waldstein | May 1, 2019 |
Classic Bogie. I loved it. ( )
  lnlamb | Jan 19, 2009 |
Showing 2 of 2
This is a comedy, a love story, and a tale of adventure, and it is one of the most charming and entertaining movies ever made. The director, John Huston, has written that the comedy was not present either in the novel by C. S. Forester or in the original screenplay by James Agee, John Collier, and himself, but that it grew out of the relationship of Hepburn and Bogart, who were just naturally funny when they worked together. Hepburn has revealed that the picture wasn’t going well until Huston came up with the inspiration that she should think of Rosie as Mrs. Roosevelt. After that, Bogart and Hepburn played together with an ease and humor that makes their love affair—the mating of a forbidding, ironclad spinster and a tough, gin-soaked riverboat captain—seem not only inevitable, but perfect. The story, set in central Africa in 1914, is so convincingly acted that you may feel a bit jarred at the end; after the lovers have brought the boat, the African Queen, over dangerous rapids to torpedo a German battleship, Huston seems to stop taking the movie seriously.
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew Yorker, Pauline Kael

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Huston, JohnDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agee, JamesScreenwritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Cardiff, JackCinematographermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Eagle, Sam P.Producermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Forester, C. S.Novelmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Spiegel, SamProducermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Viertel, PeterWritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Woolf, JohnProducermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bikel, TheodoreActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bogart, HumphreyActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bull, PeterActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hepburn, KatherineActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morley, RobertActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship. -IMDB
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