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The African Queen (1951)

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In Africa during World War I, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

C.S. Forester (novel), James Agee (adapted for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Charlie Allnutt
Katharine Hepburn ... Rose Sayer
Robert Morley ... The Brother / Rev. Samuel Sayer
Peter Bull ... Captain of Louisa
Theodore Bikel ... First Officer
Walter Gotell ... Second Officer
Peter Swanwick Peter Swanwick ... First Officer of Shona
Richard Marner ... Second Officer of Shona
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Storyline

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 KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The greatest adventure a man ever lived...with a woman! See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, some violence and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | German | Swahili

Release Date:

21 March 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

African Queen See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$536,118, 24 December 1967

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,750,000, 10 April 1990
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (as Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Theodore Bikel. See more »

Goofs

After the African Queen gets clear of the flying insects and Charlie is comforting Rosie, both characters are in focus and the engine behind them isn't. However, the trees which are behind the engine are sharply in focus. This is proof that the scene was matted and looks very unnatural. See more »

Quotes

Charlie Allnut: [exasperated and angry] Well I ain't sorry for you no more, ya crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: GERMAN EAST AFRICA September 1914 See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: The Burns Cage (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

God of Grace and God of Glory (Cwm Rhondda)
(uncredited)
Words by Harry Fosdick
Music by John Ceiriog Hughes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Love Isn't Just For the Young
18 June 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The African Queen is a significant historical film in two respects. Along with King Solomon's Mines it was the first American film to show the real Africa to the American public. Previously our ideas about Africa were gleaned from studio backlot jungles created for Tarzan films and the like. The African Queen changed all that, no cheap studio sets would do any more.

But also, The African Queen dealt with romance among mature adults in their forties. A ne'er do well river pilot on a ramshackle boat and the spinster sister of a missionary, thrown together by the circumstance of war.

Humphrey Bogart, our intrepid river pilot, makes a scheduled stop to deliver mail to the mission run by Robert Morley and Katharine Hepburn. And he breaks the news to them that World War I has started. Almost as soon as he leaves them, German troops from East Africa come to call. Bogie comes back and he finds Kate with her dead brother. They bury him and skedaddle. And while skedaddling they conceive of a cockeyed plan to help in the war effort.

To say what it is and what happens would spoil the story, but let me say this. The original opening of the film with Bogart coming in as church services are being conducted for a few hundred uncomprehending native Africans is Director John Huston's comment on the usefulness of the lives Morley and Hepburn have led up to that point. What Hepburn and Bogart accomplish by the end of the film makes up for the waste that was Hepburn's life.

But The African Queen is a great romance as well. Bogart became a great romantic star in Casablanca and he upholds the tradition here, winning an Academy Award for Best Actor. Katie Hepburn doesn't seem to miss her usual partner Spencer Tracy not a bit, the part of Rose Sayer is a perfect fit. As was remarked, they're going to have stories to tell their grandkids.

When I watch The African Queen I'm reminded of what Bogart's friend Frank Sinatra sang in one of his best ballads about how Love Isn't Just For the Young. Kate and Bogie sure prove it here.


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