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The African Queen (1951) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

While passing the German fort, a hose on the boiler is shot and damaged. Allnut wraps a cloth around the hose and then begins to wrap it with tape. The tape is clearly cotton-based black gaffer's tape, used in movie and stage production to cover and hide set hardware that is not to be seen. Gaffer's tape was invented by Johnson & Johnson in 1942 in response to the military's request for a tape that could be used to seal metal ammunition boxes to keep out water. Thus it did not exist in 1914 when the movie is set.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

Charlie refers to the boat as 30 foot long. It is clearly nowhere near that length, in actuality being only 16 foot.
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Boom mic visible 

On first evening on African Queen, while Rose is drinking her tea, the shadow of the boom mic appears over the port edge of the boat several times.
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Character error 

When Allnut is telling the Reverend and Rose about the war, among the countries he says are involved in it is Spain. In fact, Spain was never at war throughout the 1910s.
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The torpedoes that Charlie made for the African Queen were constructed from red hydrogen cylinders. He said they were oxygen cylinders, which are black.
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Robert Morley's character refers to a college friend slightly younger than him being made a Bishop. American Methodists have Bishops, but British ones don't.
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Continuity 

When arguing about who is going to steer the torpedoes, a cigar suddenly appears in Charlie's mouth.
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When Charlie wakes up in the rain, his blanket is completely soaked. After Rosie lets him in out of the rain, his blanket is dry.
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When the feverish Reverend Sayer is in bed, only a few days after being bludgeoned with a rifle butt, his cheek is perfectly smooth and pink with no sign of an injury.
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In some close-ups of the African Queen, her name is painted in white letters. Other shots show the name of the boat in black lettering.
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When setting the torpedo, Allnut's cigar is shown to be a stub, in the next scene it's longer.
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As Rose is trying to climb back onto the African Queen after bathing, she is seen to be about as naked as an actress could be in a 1951 film. Her back and legs are visible. Yes when Mr. Allnut helps her get on, she is wearing undergarments of the time period of the film's setting - 1914.
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When Charlie climbs back onto the boat after diving under the water to inspect the damage to the propeller and shaft, his hair and upper torso are clearly dry.
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Throughout the movie, Allnut goes from wearing an undershirt and long underwear to not wearing them. An example of this is when he is covered with leeches. He takes off his shirt, no undershirt. Rose raises his pants legs to check for leeches, no long underwear.
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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. In a return close up, Rose is still dry, especially her hat.
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During the final storm, a wave swamps the boat, fills the furnace, and extinguishes the fire. In the next scene, the fire is still flickering.
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Blue sky and sunshine can be seen in the shots of assorted wildlife during the major rainstorm.
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When Rose is pulled back into the "Queen" after bathing, her clothes are damp, but not dripping wet, which after being fully immersed in the water they should be.
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When Rev. Samuel and Rose kneel to pray, his coat is unbuttoned. When they go out to attend the African man who screams, his coat is completely buttoned.
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When exhausted Charlie and Rose are sleeping on the boat Rose's right elbow is folded, but when Charlie wakes up, walks on the boat and goes back to Rose to wake her up too, her right elbow is unfolded.
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When Charlie calls Rose a psalm-singing, skinny old maid, the knot on his neckerchief changes.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When Charlie Allnut gets back aboard the boat after he pulled him with a rope, just after Rose screams because she has seen the leeches on his back, the head of a member of the troupe is visible below the screen.
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After repairing the propeller, as Charlie and Rose are at the back of the boat, the shadow of the boom mic is clearly visible on his white cap.
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As the boat pulls into the cove where they are going to bathe, you can see a rope pop up behind the boat as it stops the forward movement of the craft.
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Errors in geography 

The nameplate on the front of the church says "1st Methodist". American Methodists sometimes call their churches 1st Methodist, British Methodists never do.
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Factual errors 

The propeller on the boat is made of bronze (stainless steel hadn't been invented yet). Bronze cannot be easily welded, even with the proper equipment, but he welds a new blade to the propeller. (In the book, Allnut makes a replacement blade out of iron, and rivets it to the bronze propeller.)
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When they are passing the German fort, the Germans and Askaris are using British Long Lee Enfield rifles, not German Mausers.
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At the beginning of the movie, the deckhands and locals are speaking Swahili, yet receive crucial information via African drums. Since unlike most Bantu languages, Swahili is not tonal, African drums (which depend on tonality) don't work in Swahili.
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Flaming wreckage is seen even underwater.
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Miscellaneous 

When Charlie wakes Rosie, the floor of the boat is dry, despite its having rained heavily during the night.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Boats float because of the weight of the water that their hulls displace, but the African Queen is an open-topped vessel (no roof), so the boat could not have floated free of the mud and grass just because the rain had made the level of the river rise, since an almost equal "depth" of rainwater would have collected inside the boat as had accumulated on the surrounding terrain. So the boat would have remained at about the same "height" relative to the surrounding terrain, namely, resting on the shallow river-bottom, as it had been before the rainstorm. Charlie and Rosie would have needed to manually pump/bail the boat out before it would float any higher in the river. (However, the river was also rising upstream and so could have exerted enough force to push the boat off a patch of mud.)
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Revealing mistakes 

When Rosie tries to climb aboard the boat, you can tell from her shoulder blade and leg that she is naked. When Charlie helps her into the boat, she is wearing women's underwear.
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When Allnut goes underwater to check the propeller, the water lifts up the back of Humphrey Bogart's toupee, revealing his bald pate.
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Due to the non-scalability of water, some of the shots of The African Queen in the rapids and later in the marsh reveal it to be an obvious miniature.
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Shortly after escaping the swarm of flying insects, the Queen enters a narrow channel. As it enters, water can be seen coming from an exhaust outlet on the boats transom indicating that it has an internal combustion engine and not powered by steam.
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After the first rapids scene, Bogart dips a glass of water into the river, then places it out of sight. He then carefully picks up a different glass from a different spot next to him before pouring gin in and taking a sip. The water level in the second glass, from which he drinks, is clearly different from that in the actual river water dipped glass.
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When Charlie and Rosie are being attacked by a swarm of biting flies, the entire swarm moves around in unison. They are superimposed on a glass plate over the film.
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Obvious double for Robert Morley as he tends the garden after the Germans leave.
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As 'Charlie Allnut' taunts the hippos swimming toward The African Queen, a very distinct white edge can be seen around the boiler and pressure gauge behind him. In addition, Allnut is in focus, the boiler and pressure gauge behind him are out of focus, and the trees in the distance are sharply in focus. This is all evidence of an imperfectly executed matte shot, with Allnut and boiler in the foreground image and the trees in the background plate.
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Charlie at one point in the journey taunts a pod of hippos. Anyone who knows Africa as well as Charlie supposedly does would never do that as hippos are extremely dangerous and have been known to attack boats with little provocation.
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Allnut gets wet sleeping under the open sky, and Rose finally lets him into the canopied part of the boat. After he falls asleep, she opens an umbrella to protect him from the rain. When she opens the umbrella, it is already wet, presumably from previous takes.
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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.
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At times, because of the primitive bluescreen process being employed, the foreground and background colors of the river scenes seem to bleed into each other.
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At one point, the Queen is drifting quickly along the river and Rose and Charlie are sitting together looking toward the rear of the boat. They are not watching for anything ahead that they could crash into.
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When Rose first gets on the boat, the green screen is reflected on her white outfit.
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When Allnut makes noises to imitate the hippos, it is obviously not Bogart's voice but dubbed in from another source.
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Spoilers

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

In the final scene, when Charlie and Rosie are swimming in the lake, their voices reverberate as they talk to each other, revealing that they are indoors, not outside.
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Character error 

At the end, Charlie and Rose are married by the captain of the Luisa. However, their marriage would not be legal. The captain of a ship has no particular power to perform weddings. The Navies of America, Britain, and various other countries specifically prohibit a commanding officer from performing marriage ceremonies.
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Continuity 

When the Germans arrive at the village, Rev. Sayer confronts a German soldier, who hits him in the face with a rifle butt. He falls to the ground, and the left side of his face near his mouth is swollen, bruised, and bloodied. The Germans then burn the village. A short time later, while the village is still smoldering, Rev. Sayer is working outside. Rose talks to him and brings him inside. His face is unblemished, with no swelling or bruising.
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When Allnut sets up the torpedoes in the African Queen, the holes are a little behind the prow. The turned boat, which supposedly explodes the German ship, has the torpedoes ahead.
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Allnut's stubble is heavy when he is interrogated on the boat, but much lighter in the water after the Louisa sinks.
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Revealing mistakes 

Several shots of the Luisa and the African Queen on the lake are poorly matted. When Charlie and Rosie are hiding in the brush as the Luisa passes nearby, the ship is clearly not moving forward, though it is under steam, and its size is also out of proportion to the setting. Later, in the shots of the Luisa approaching the capsized African Queen (seen in the foreground), the Queen is an obvious model and the water surrounding it blurs unconvincingly into the background shots of the actual lake with the Luisa on it.
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During the "wedding," the water in the background is not moving and is obviously a photograph.
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Following the wedding aboard the Luisa, the crew began hanging Charlie and Rosie by pulling on the ropes without first tightening the nooses. As a result, the nooses began lifting off their heads when the African Queen's torpedoes exploded against the Luisa and ended the execution.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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