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USA 1951
Directed by
John Huston
103 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The African Queen

Humphrey Bogart scored an Oscar for his iconic portrayal of a dipsomaniacal riverboat captain, Charles Allnut and Katherine Hepburn, a prim middle-aged missionary, Rose Sayer, in a story based on a C.S.Forester novel and adapted by Huston with playwright James Agee.  The script also had uncredited contributions by Peter Viertel who wrote a novel about Huston and the making of the film which became the basis for Clint Eastwood’s 1990 film, White Hunter Black Heart (Hepburn also wrote a book about the adventure, 'The Making of the African Queen or, How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind').

Although there's some very obvious back projection used Huston wanted authenticity and The African Queen was shot largely on location in the Belgian Congo and British Uganda with British cinematographer Jack Cardiff lensing  The bulk of the film is about the odd-couple journey down the Ulonga-Bora river, a feisty voyage which, of course, has the predictable ending. As such it is a much-loved crowd–pleaser, particularly for the older set. Although it has a flimsy storyline and broadly-drawn characters its reputation accrues from its star power more than from its artistic merits.

FYI: Bette Davis was originally slated for the Hepburn role but withdrew because of pregnancy. Now that would have been an interesting combination!




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