Sunday, July 7, 2013

#1,056. The African Queen (1951)

Directed By: John Huston

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley

Tag line: "The greatest adventure a man ever lived...with a woman!"

Trivia: Walt Disney used this film as the basis for the Disneyland's "Jungle Cruise" attraction

One of the greatest adventure movies of all time, The African Queen also features a romantic pairing that’s among the most unusual ever committed to film.

The year is 1914. The setting: Africa. Ignoring the war that has broken out in Europe, a pair of British missionaries, Samuel Sayer (Robert Morse) and his sister Rose (Katherine Hepburn), continue to deliver God's message in German-controlled East Africa. But when the German Army destroys their mission, critically wounding Samuel in the process, Rose turns to hard-drinking American riverboat captain Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) for help. 

Samuel eventually dies, at which point Rose climbs aboard Capt. Allnut’s ship, The African Queen, and the two set sail, hoping to avoid the many patrol boats roaming the river. Rose eventually suggests they take the initiative and attack Germany’s most prized gunship, the Queen Louisa, but Capt. Allnut is more than a little reluctant to follow her advice. He eventually has a change of heart, however, when he and Rose fall for each other, a love that is tested time and again by the treacherous African river.

Off-screen, Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn were as different as their characters. Legend has it Hepburn even chastised both Bogart and the movie’s director, John Huston, for their non-stop drinking. Still, the two stars developed a mutual respect for each other, which carried over into the film. And it’s a good thing it did, too, because for much of its running time, The African Queen is a two-person picture, focusing on the pair’s adventures (including an exciting scene where their boat floats helplessly down violent rapids) as well as their blossoming love affair.

Both Bogart and Hepburn are excellent. For her turn as the puritanical Rose, Hepburn received her 5th Academy Award nomination, though it was Bogart who walked away with the Oscar for his performance as Charlie Allnut, marking the only time in his career he’d win the coveted award. It was they who made this unlikely adventure/romance spring so convincingly to life, and the reason the film is still, over 60 years later, heralded a classic of the silver screen.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The African Queen is one of the greatest movies ever made :) I've loved it every since I was a little kid. Bogart and Hepburn have such a magnificent chemistry together!