September 1914, news reaches the colony German Eastern Africa that Germany is at war, so Reverend Samuel Sayer became a hostile foreigner. German imperial troops burn down his mission; he is beaten and dies of fever. His well-educated, snobbish sister Rose Sayer buries him and leaves by the only available transport, the dilapidated river steamboat 'African Queen' of grumpy Charlie Allnut. As if a long difficult journey without any comfort weren't bad enough for such odd companions, she is determined to find a way to do their bit for the British war effort (and avenge her brother) and aims high, as God is obviously on their side: construct their own equipment, a torpedo and the converted steamboat, to take out a huge German warship, the Louisa, which is hard to find on the giant lake and first of all to reach, in fact as daunting an expedition as anyone attempted since the late adventurous explorer John Speakes, but she presses till Charlie accepts to steam up the Ulana, about to brave... Written by
In a 2013 interview on the NPR program "Fresh Air," Anjelica Huston told interviewer Terry Gross about how her father, director John Huston, found out about her birth while he was at the remote jungle shooting location for The African Queen: "I was born at 6:29 p.m. on July 8, 1951, at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles. At 8 pounds, 13 ounces, I was a big, healthy baby. The news of my arrival was cabled promptly to the post office in the township of Butaleja in Western Uganda. Two days later, a barefoot runner bearing a telegram finally arrived at Murchison Falls, a waterfall on the Nile, deep in the heart of the Belgian Congo, where The African Queen was being filmed. My father, John Marcellus Huston, was a director renowned for his adventurous style and audacious nature. Even though it was considered foolhardy, he'd persuaded not only Katharine Hepburn, an actress in her prime, but also Humphrey Bogart, who brought along his famously beautiful wife, the movie star Lauren Bacall, to share the hazardous journey. My mother, heavily pregnant, had stayed behind in Los Angeles with my one-year-old brother, Tony Huston. When the messenger handed the telegram to my father, he glanced at it, then put it in his pocket. Katie Hepburn exclaimed, 'for God sakes, John, what does it say,' and dad replied: 'It's a girl. Her name is Anjelica.'" See more »
While shooting the first rapids a close up of Rose shows her to be sitting with dry clothes. A distance shot shows water cascading into the Queen and all over either a dummy in the miniature or a stunt double of Rose, nearly flattening her hat. A return close up, Rose is still dry, especially her hat. See more »
This is not the best movie Ford, Bogart, or Hepburn did as individual artists, the but joining of their considerable talents did create a unique and most enjoyable movie that is fondly associated with all of them.
"The African Queen" is a war movie, romance, adventure, comedy, drama, morality tale, and battle of the sexes all in one and it works on all levels. Though it often appears as somewhat "hoaky"...almost like a silent movie at points with its melodramatic score... that's because it does not strive to recreate reality like the usual war movie, it is actually an on location play. You could put it on a Broadway or London stage today and it would still work without a word or inflection changed.
Though this is a movie of many great moments, what stays with you is the blossoming love of Charlie and Rose and how it helps them find the best in themselves for each other. I guess when all is said and done, "The African Queen" is a romance after all.
If you appreciate any of the great artists that created it or just great movie making, this is one for the collection.
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