Synopsis – In WWI East Africa, a gin-swilling Canadian riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced English missionary to undertake a trip up a treacherous river and use his boat to attack a German gunship – The African Queen.
Director – John Huston
Released – 1951
For Fans of – Roman Holiday, Casablanca, From Here To Eternity
The African Queen is a legendary Film for Many Reasons. Firstly due to it being Humphrey Bogart’s one and only Oscar-winning performance and secondly, the wonderful collection of anecdotes that stemmed from the combination of Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, and Director John Huston combining to make a WW1 adventure on location in Africa, many of which came about due to the cast’s hard-drinking.
Going to great lengths to be a charming and realistic adventure in the Belgian Congo, it never feels entirely realistic despite the fact that filming took place on location in Africa, The wildlife shots felt detached from the shots of the performers, feeling at times like a collection of b-roll inserted to remind the audience that the movie takes place in a jungle, not helped by the painfully noticeable use of rear projection, and miniatures during the more ‘action-packed’ sequences.
That said, the film still managed to charm, namely due to the strong performances from the stars of the movie and it was refreshing to see a romance between two people who were clearly closer to middle age than teenagers, which goes some way to explaining why these two fell for each other despite their clear differences (a straight-laced Christian missionary and a hard-drinking riverboat captain). This might just be their last chance at love and they’re grasping it with both hands, and sure, the danger of war probably had something to do with it too.
Do I feel that this movie is slightly overrated? yes, And do I think Bogart was better in other movies? also yes, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it for what it is. An easy viewing experience that can brighten up any boring Sunday afternoon and is a must-see for film buffs everywhere.