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The African Queen (1951)

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THE AFRICAN QUEEN is one of those movies that has it all: adventure, excitement, humor and romance. The only pairing of two of classic Hollywood's most legendary stars, one wonders after seeing this film, why no one had discovered Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart's incredible on-screen rapport before, and why no one bothered to take advantage of it after.

 

A poster for THE AFRICAN QUEEN

Based on the novel by C.S. Forrester, THE AFRICAN QUEEN is set in central Africa during World War I. It is the story of an English missionary and spinster, Rose Sayer (Hepburn), in who is forced to flee her mission after German troops destroy the village. A Canadian supplier, Charlie Alnutt (Bogart), offers to take her down river to civilization in his little river steamer, the African Queen. The contrast in their personalities (Rose is a very proper Edwardian English missionary and Charlie is a scruffy, gin-drinking seaman) becomes the first major source of their disagreements, which only worsen when Rose decides she wants to do her patriotic duty and follow the river all the way down to the lake where she plans to sink the German cruiser guarding it with homemade torpedoes. Needless to say, Charlie doesn't take to this in the slightest, but his conscience gets the better of him and he agrees to humor Rose until she discovers for herself how futile the whole idea is. Overall it makes for a great movie -- nominated for four Academy Awards in 1951.

Rose and Charlie quarrel

A quarrel -- one of many that take place over the course of the trip.

THE AFRICAN QUEEN was shot almost entirely on location in Uganda and on the Lualaba River in Africa; and while the exterior nature scenes appear a little cut-and-pasted at times, overall Jack Cardiff's color cinematography seems to have just the right effect.

Rose and Charlie considering in the stern of the boat

Charlie still trying to convince Rose that their trip down the Ulonga is impossible -- especially now that they've broken the prop. Rose is not to be deterred however.

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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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