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If some one remakes this, I'm sending out a posse.
Kayt R17 August 2000
To face a script in which most of the plot revolves around the dialogue of only two people in one location must be terrifying. Thank goodness for Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. John Huston's adaptation of C.S. Forester's The African Queen was solid. And the decision to film on location in Africa helped develop the concept of nature as a viable character within the plot helps solidify the film. But without Katharine Hepburn, and Humphry Bogart, this film could have been reduced to a nice little travelog on the beauty and terror of African and the pretty animals living there. Within The African Queen each character undergoes metamorphosis. Charlie Alnutt grows from an apathetic man who enjoys the inside of a bottle, to a courageous man. Rosie in turn allows herself to be human, and vulnerable perhaps for the first time in her life. With lesser actors these changes would have appeared rushed, unexplained,and a dull beginning to an inexplicable romance. But it isn't. It's a captivating film. Rosie's brittle smile, Charlie's face as his vices are destroyed, these are moments of brilliance in an incredible film. I highly recommend it.

It's also worth noting that this was not an easy film to make. These performances survived crew and cast illnesses, constant mechanical errors and inclement weather. For more about the conditions it was created under, I suggest you read Katherine Hepburn's The Making of The African Queen or How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind. She's not the sanest author in the world, but all the more enjoyable.
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Out of Africa with Bogey and Kate
gaityr6 February 2002
This is one of those films whose special effects and scenery must have been astounding at the time (1951), but which seem mediocre at best today. BUT, and that's a big 'but', this does not detract from the greatness of the movie overall. The scenery truly is beautiful, for one thing--and the direction and cinematography is great.

However, what truly makes this film a classic, and deservedly so, is the performances given by the lead actors. For their one film together, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn pull out all the stops. Bogart is crude, dirty and a low-life river-rat with a heart of gold. He gives the Oscar-winning performance of his lifetime. Hepburn is prim and prissy, but always manages to win us over with her radiance and vulnerability, as well as that core of steel and strength she lends to all her on-screen characters. He's charming, in his way; she's achingly beautiful in hers. You can't help but warm to Charlie and Rosie, and truly, genuinely root for them to get together.

The ending is predictable; all 'opposites-attract' romance adventure stories are. You know without a doubt that the sunset will be there for Charlie and Rosie to ride off (or swim) into together. But you still hurt when Charlie hurts; and you still smile like a fool when he sees Rose, and when he tries to explain her forthrightness away by jungle fever. You believe the love, and that's what the African Queen is all about.

Oh, and the gin and leech scenes, of course. Those are brilliant, as everyone else here has already mentioned! ;)
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Don't Take This One For Granted
gftbiloxi3 June 2005
THE African QUEEN is probably one of the most widely available films in the world, on sale in the electronics department of virtually every major retail chain, a commonplace at every rental counter, frequently seen on television. It is hard to imagine any one in the western world, especially in the United States, who has not seen the film at least once--and probably more than once. And so we take it for granted.

That is a mistake. Based on the famous C.S. Forester novel, which it follows quite closely, THE African QUEEN is the simple story of pragmatic river-rat Charlie Allnut (Bogart) and high-minded Methodist missionary spinster Rose Sayer (Hepburn) who are thrown together by chance when German troops sweep through Africa during World War I. Once safely aboard his beat-up riverboat "The African Queen," Allnut desires nothing more than to dodge the Germans until war's end; Rose, however, determines to strike a blow against the Germans by sailing the boat downriver to attack a German battleship.

There are so many fine things about this movie that they are hard to innumerate. Filmed on location in the Congo, the cinematography is remarkably fine without being obtrusive; the script, which is at once subtle and very purposeful, has a remarkably natural tone; the two stars--who play the vast majority of the film alone together--give justly famous performances; and Huston's direction is so fine that we never feel even the slightest hint of directorial manipulation. As an adventure, it has a sense of realism that most adventure stories lack; as a character study it is remarkably detailed and finely wrought; as a love story, it is quite touching without engaging in common sentimentality. And it can be enjoyed by many people of diverse backgrounds and ages without the faintest qualm.

If you haven't seen THE African QUEEN in a while (or heaven forbid never seen it at all) don't take it for granted thinking you'll catch it sooner or later. Sit down with the film and watch it with fresh eyes. You'll be amazed.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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A Great Classic With Everything You Could Ask For
Snow Leopard2 August 2001
This great classic has everything you could ask for - two fine stars who could carry the show by themselves, and a story full of adventure, drama, humor, and romance. It's a lot of fun to watch, and it is also a film you can admire for the expert way it was put together.

Bogart and Hepburn not only give great performances, they are also wonderful together, and they make the on-screen relationship between their characters believable and interesting - it's great to watch as it develops. The adventures that they find are that much more entertaining for the way that you come to care about them. The story itself is exciting, too, with a lot of ups and downs for the heroes. Topping it off are the wonderful settings, with a lot of fine shots of wild animals and jungle scenery - there is always plenty to look at, and it also sets off the action nicely.

Any one of a number of things would make "The African Queen" worth watching, and as a whole it is a terrific movie. It's a must-see for any fan of classic movies, and one that you can also enjoy watching numerous times.
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A successful mixture of comedy, character and adventure
Nazi_Fighter_David28 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"The African Queen" was Bogart's fourth film to be directed by John Huston and his performance in it was very likely the best in his career as well as one which finally won him an Academy Award… He beat out Marlon Brando, who was heavily favored to win for "A Streetcar Named Desire."

The screenplay by Huston and the celebrated movie critic-writer, James Agee, matched Bogart with Katherine Hepburn in what amounted to a two-star tour de force in a deeply touching romance linked to adventures and heroics…

Bogart and Hepburn were delightful as they infused their personal conflict with a warmth, humor, and tenderness rarely seen in films… Mixing comedy and adventure, it was a two-character film, in which Hepburn gave a fine demonstration of her ability to develop within a role... The sensitive interaction between her and Bogart (in an unfamiliar guise) undoubtedly benefited from her many films with Tracy…

Bogart was given a rare opportunity to demonstrate his range as an actor, more than holding his own opposite the formidable Hepburn... He played many scenes with maximum effectiveness, down impossible rapids, where he becomes covered with leeches and suffers a severe fever attack, his drunk scene where he rebels against Hepburn and mocks her high-blown speeches, and the tender moments in which he realizes he's fallen under her bewitching spell…

"The African Queen" was not an easy film to make, most of it being done on location in the insect-infested, suffocatingly hot and humid African Congo… But the result was a brilliantly entertaining film, a successful mixture of comedy, character and adventure…
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Love Isn't Just For the Young
bkoganbing18 June 2005
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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Bogie Deserved It
Brian Washington14 January 2004
To me this film will always be the validation of Humphrey Bogart's long and distinguished career. His portrayal of the hard drinking Charlie was what made this film what it was. Also, he showed just how great an actor he was when he was able to match up against the woman who is generally considered to be the greatest actress in film history, Katherine Hepburn. Also, this film will always be recognized for having the perfect mix of action, romance and comedy and it will always be a classic.
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The most exciting, romantic and inspiring Odyssey of American Cinema …
ElMaruecan8230 October 2013
He loves his boat and knows the African river like his pocket. She loves her country and believes in accomplishment driven by faith and patriotism.

It's all natural that the two main protagonists of "The African Queen" turn the titular boat into the unsung heroine of a military deed, whose success is as improbable as the very thought that a straight-laced Methodist missionary spinster would fall in love with a coarse, rudimentary and gin-soaked mailman, but not so when the romance serves as the very fuel of that mission, and when it's Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and John Huston on the lead: the miracle of "The African Queen", as movie and story, is the result of three immense talents confidently maneuvering in the same direction.

Film historian and critic Richard Schickel said about Hepburn that her secret appeal relied on the characters she usually played: "a woman on her high horse with slightly pretentious, often comically stated ideas about the world. It was for men to bring her down and get her to reveal herself as quite a good gal, sporty and democratic" generally, the task would fall to "slightly rough-necked and good-natured male" But for once, "The African Queen" provides an interesting twist to the usual formula, because it's Rose who gets Charlie on her horse. The effect is even greater because it forces Bogart to abandon his tough-guy facade, and (for once again) play a man who tries to please a woman.

Huston's "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" had already demonstrated a new range of versatility in Bogart's acting, but even as the anti-heroic Fred C. Dobbs, Bogart was exuding a threatening toughness; as Allnut, it's a new step on his career, as a more lovable kind of loser, in a performance that will earn him an Oscar for Best Actor (Hepburn, Huston and James Agee for the screenplay will also be nominated). The word 'loser' might sound too harsh, but it's still better than coward, which seems to fit Allnut's initial plan to avoid trouble and hide in a spot with enough supply of gin, waiting for that worldwide war (the first) to stop. Too bad for him, he's got Hepburn aboard, an iron-lady who followed her bother (Robert Morley) in German East Africa only to witness the efforts of a lifetime being burned down by the Kaiser's army, a fatal shock for the brother.

But Rose is stronger than her ill-fated brother and when she accepts to set off aboard "The African Queen", she's most determined to be part of the conflict, not in the victim's departments. And the glorious boat, becomes the unlikely arena of two one dominant and one dominated spirit in Allnut, treating Rose as a lady, until he finds out that she's not a passive and fear-stricken female observer. It's indeed Rose who suggests the idea of building a torpedo, out of oxygen cylinders and inflammable material, to destroy a German ship blocking the way to British ships from a lake downriver. Allnut argues that it's going to a certain death, they'll have to navigate along a German fort, to negotiate a few rapids, to get mired on mud across dense reeds, their chances of survival are mighty slim. An unflappable Rose then confronts Allnut to his own responsibilities as both a man, and a Canadian subject of the Union Jack brandished by the boat, and Allnut, not to lose face, accepts with reluctance.

But we know it's a matter of time before Rose drives Allnut all nut, he finally gives himself a little one-to-one gin-soaked party, driving enough anger to finally take his promise back, disappointing his distinguished and courageous host. He wakes up with one hell of a hangover and all his emptied bottles floating on the river; trying to make amends from his behavior, he explains that his drinking is only expression of human nature, to which he gets the greatest cinematic come-back ever "nature, Mr Allnut is what we're put in this world to rise above", and the line resonates as the film's motto. It's never about what we have at hands, but what we can build on it. Rosie ignites the fire of bravery in Allnut, and the exhilarating cross of the first obstacles lead to the victorious embrace, sealing the existence of a love that got from one heart to the other, through a taped adrenalin-filled boiler hose, and a few rows as tumultuous as the rapids.

This is not Hollywood corny romantic comedy; this is John Huston confronting two genuine characters one another, an inspirational believer and a practical technician, both combining their strengths for survival and accomplishment. Katharine Hepburn might play her usual 'strong woman' role but she's never mean-spirited. On the other hand, Bogie is clearly in love with his 'Rosie', he admires her and can see that she's changing him for the better, it's not just about forming a couple, but being a team, not just about being a team, but improving, for love and for duty, whether for sharing a tent during under a heavy storm, to fix a propeller underwater or to even accept that God is still the one who has the last word.

That's "The African Queen": thrilling, romantic, inspiring, starring the two stars, honored by the American Film Institute as the greatest screen legends, Bogart and Hepburn, in interactions full of comedy given the opposition of their personalities and a believable chemistry built on trust, incentive and partnership, this is not 'holding-hands' heroism à la "Titanic", each step is tackled with technical precision. Which makes the climactic duel with the Germans a bit less realistic by contrast but this is another aspect of Hollywood's immortal classics, sometimes; every single element has not to be taken seriously for a triumphal ending.

Indeed, when you have great actors, great writing and great director on the tiller, the story can surely navigate its way to legend.
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The African Queen
Coxer9923 March 1999
An amazing romance-adventure classic highlighted by the brilliant performances of Bogart and Hepburn. Oscar winner Bogart's Charlie is a broken man who finds true hope and happiness in Hepburn's Rose. Rose finds love and meaning from Charlie. It's adorable to see them call each other "Missus" and "Mr. Almont" even when we know that they love each other. Even when they have their "first quarrel" near the end of the picture, we know that their lives have changed forever as a result of the other person. It's a film about true love. This is also a very funny film, which was a shock to director Huston. Bogart's stomach growling scene early on in the film is a hoot. More humor commences as both stars play off of each other wonderfully. The scenary is beautiful. No film has captured the essence and importance of nature better than this classic. This is the film that sparked other romance adventures such as "Romancing the Stone" and "Six Days and Seven Nights." Before you view those newer installments, you better check out the one and true original classic.
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Amazing and memorable movie!
mmintz13 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers

After having seen some of this in my youth, I finally broke down and watched the whole thing recently. I was very impressed! I thought it was entertaining and even moving at times. I could see (retrospectively) how this seminal movie has influenced many of my favorites. (Dead Man Walking, Stand By Me, Apocalypse Now, etc.)

Oddly, while "African Queen" had a strong beginning and ending, it was its incredible MIDDLE that made it such a classic. It is in its middle sections that "African Queen" wins our hearts. Here we see Rose lose her annoyingly prim composure during a vicious bug attack. We watch Rose and Charlie's first kiss and see their initially awkward love blossom into something comfortable and natural.

And of course my favorite: the leech scene! We see the now indomitable Charlie enter the water to drag the Queen through the mud. Then, before long, we see his utterly believable discomfiture as he and Rose discover that he is covered in leeches.


And then, once they've all been salted off...Charlie resigns himself to get back in the water. Why? For his new-found love of country, self, and (most significant) Rose. At least that's what his scared but determined face seems to say.

In such scenes, our love for these characters grows as does theirs for each other. In the face of terror and pain and even specific phobias, the initially annoying personas are stripped away and we see Rose and Charlie in their truest forms: afraid and hurting. Yet, in spite of their weaknesses, they struggle onward. In this, they are TRUE HEROES. They are terrified and discouraged (far from the imperturbable Superman-types) and still they do the impossible (or the unnavigable as the case may be). These are my kind of heroes!

And, while the eleventh hour ending may be a bit far-fetched, we don't mind. These two have earned a victorious ending, however it is delivered!
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Kate and Bogey on a Quest
Bill-30831 January 1999
This one's unique. The photography often makes it look like a travelogue, but it's one of the most captivating adventure/love stories ever put on film. Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn cruising down the river. Taking care of the gin. Over the rapids. Past the bullets. Through the swamp. Among the leeches. "It's no wonder you love boating, Mr. Alnutt." And guess who comes to the rescue! This is an epic quest, the kind of tale humans have been spinning since we learned to talk. Movies don't get much better than this.
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Bogart And Hepburn At Their Best
Sean14 February 2007
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn are arguably the two greatest performers of all time. Bogart has proved his success with such roles as Rick Blaine in Casablanca and Samuel Spade in The Maltese Falcon. Hepburn has shown us her talents with The Philadelphia Story and Bringing Up Baby. Did they ever happen to make a movie together? Yes, they did. Was it any good? You bet your ass!

The African Queen is a rousing tale of adventure and romance with two unlikely companions. Bogie plays a steamboat captain who agrees to take Robert Morley's sister, The Great Kate, back to civilization during the onset of World War I. In the process, they must fight for survival along treacherous waters.

The gin-guzzling riverboat captain is a great counter to the strait-laced missionary and the two stars make this a ride to remember. Besides the performances, the script probably shines the most. James Agee and John Huston, who also directed, have a great knack for writing crisp and smooth interplay between the two leads.

There aren't very many supporting roles in this movie, but Robert Morley makes the best of his small performance. He's actually quite memorable and he hearkens back to supporting players of older Bogart movies like Sidney Greenstreet.

Both leads received well deserved Oscar nominations and Humphrey Bogart finally won his big award. That should tell you that I'm not the only one who thought this movie was excellent. If you like stirring action with great chemistry from the stars, then you'll love The African Queen.
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Simple story that is good for the acting of Bogart and Hepburn.
TxMike27 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I am certain that this movie maintains it's rather high ranking because of the performances of Humphrey Bogart as Canadian Charlie Allnut, working in German East Africa, and Katharine Hepburn as Rose Sayer, helping her missionary brother. The story is straightforward, about the two of them using Charlie's little boat named "African Queen" to escape the threat of the invading Germans. The bulk of the movie is their trip down a river, through a marsh, and into a large lake on the small boat, making necessary underwater repairs as necessary. The dialog is snappy and interesting, the two actors at the tops of their forms. The DVD has a nice presentation.

SPOILERS. The movie starts with the missionary activity, and they depend on Charlie and his little boat to bring them supplies and mail occasionally. Germans show up, burn the village, rough up the minister, who later dies as a result. Threatened, Charlie and Rose avoid a German fort and gunshots, get stuck in reeds, but a good rain and flood overnight send them into the lake, where they hatch a plan to convert two compressed gas cylinders into torpedoes to sink the German boat. In bad weather the African Queen sinks instead, they get rescued, then about to be executed as spies, the German boat rams the overturned "Queen", sinks, and Charlie and Rose, having just been married by the German boat captain, survive.
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Giants of the silver screen delivering one giant of a movie.
Spikeopath1 January 2009
WW1, East Africa, after her brother is killed by invading German troops, Rose Sayer is reliant on gruff steamboat captain, Charlie Allnut, to ferry her safely out of harms way and back to civilisation. Trouble is is that they are poles apart in ideals and ways, she is a devoted missionary, he a hard drinking tough nut with a glint in his eye. Yet as they venture further down the river, an unlikely alliance is starting to form, both in personalities and a keenness to give it to the Germans!

It's probably something of a given that The African Queen was starting with an advantage from the very first cry of action! Because to have Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn as your lead actors is not to be sniffed at, whilst also having John Huston directing is stacking the odds heavily in your favour. Thankfully history and time show us that all involved in this piece crafted a most delightful and exciting picture, yet it triumphs more as an intriguing picture than merely a meeting of Hollywood giants. Adapted by Huston and James Agee from the novel by C.S. Forester, it's believed that the original intention was to film it as an outright drama, but whether by star design or a going with the flow attitude, the picture turned out to be a drama fused with splices of humour, the kind where the tongue gets firmly stuck in the cheek.

As character pieces go, The African Queen has few peers, especially in the pantheon of 50s cinema, then you add the excellent story to work from, with the location work in Congo and Uganda expertly utilised by Huston (clearly revelling in the mix) and his photographer, Jack Cardiff. Then there is that magical flow, just as The African Queen (the boat itself) is flowing down the river, so does the film effortlessly glide along without pretentious posturing, screaming out that this is as a humane a story as you are likely to witness again. Some cynical reviewers will point to the dated studio filmed segments as a reason why this film shouldn't be termed a classic amongst classics, but really it's only an issue if you want it to dim your appreciation of the splendour from every other frame. From Bogart and his wry or humorous expressions, to Hepburn and the art of acting prim, this is a pure joy and justly it deserves to make all those lists containing greatest films of all time. 10/10
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Bogart's finest performance (spoilers)
Justin Behnke17 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The African Queen is one of the finest films ever made, and one of my personal favorites. It is the story of love born between two unlikely human beings amidst intense battles against nature and Ze Germans. Charlie Allnut (Bogart) and Rose Sayer (Hepburn) have no business ever even speaking to each other under normal circumstances. He being the gruff, unkempt lush Canadian "captain" of a one man ship, The African Queen, and she being the somewhat haughty, prim and proper British sister of a missionary killed by the Germans in Africa in the first World War. The film is the story of their worlds meeting during a journey towards the destruction of the German's most powerful ship in Africa.

What is it that makes this film so great? It's all Bogart and Hepburn. Of the roughly 105 minutes of film, it's them and them alone for about 90. Arguably, no two actors have ever solely carried a film this good by themselves. Both, especially Bogart, lose themselves in the roles completely. Of immense help was, of course, director John Huston and the decision to go into Africa and not a Hollywood backlot or LA area river to do the filming. The river and the jungle's harshly real environment made Bogart and Hepburn's performances all the better. I could praddle on and on about why Bogart and Hepburn are so great in this film, but there are two key moments that sum it all up for me. Both may seem unordinary overall, but say all that needs to be said about the two characters. The first is when Rose, who has been calling (Bogart) "Mr. Allnut" for as long as she has known him, realizes she doesn't know his first name. He tells her "It's Charlie". She gets a big smile on her face and repeats "Charlie...that's a nice name". Something about her demeanor when she says that displays, to me, an extraordinary joy and affection, maybe even love, for Charlie that her words perhaps do not. Later, after Charlie and Rose have successfully navigated some white water rapids that seemed impossible to get through, Charlie grabs Rose, kisses her, and shouts "Hip Hip Horray!" Again, there's something about the way Bogart does it that conveys to me the same joy, affection and love for Rose that she did earlier when repeating his name.

Again, these two moments seem relatively insignificant in the context of the whole movie. But in my opinion, they make the movie. In this movie, as with most others, it's hard to give a damn about what characters say or do if you don't give a damn about them. And those moments make me care about these two characters in a way that I ordinarily never would. I shudder to think what results Bette Davis and David Niven, both fine actors, would have had with this film

The ending of the film is, of course, implausible. Without revealing anything, what are the odds of things happening as they did? But who cares. By the end, we as viewers should and would be ecstatic if Rose and Charlie were simply able to marry before their execution. The boat ultimately blowing up and both our heroes coming out married and alive is icing on the cake. The film ends with us knowing that despite what Keanu Reeves says, a relationship between two people who meet under extreme circumstances can work out.

Also, Robert Morley's brief performance as Rose's brother is memorable, as are most all of his performances. And Bogart scene with the leeches is as horrifying as the same scene in Stand By Me kids is funny.
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Three Great Artists and One Great Movie
joshdcohen9 April 2005
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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entertaining but overrated
tolbs101011 February 2005
The African Queen is an entertaining film done in grand old Hollywood style, and it is probably the most conventional movie John Huston ever made. It's surprising though that people can call this movie one of the greatest of all time considering the hokey (and at times unbelievable) script and the awkward lack of chemistry between Bogart and Hepburn. Actually, that lack of chemistry creates some strangely funny moments which change the tone of this adventure story--sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. The two are never really believable as the characters they are playing, but they are still fun to watch as a couple of stars chewing up the scenery. Bogart's Academy Award for this performance is obviously a Revlon choice in that it makes up for his being overlooked for at least 10 better performances that he gave prior to this one. Huston's direction seems to lose focus in the last 10 minutes or so and the ending is very abrupt, but overall the film is briskly paced and painless. Also worth noting is the wonderful use of African locations as photographed by master cinematographer Jack Cardiff. If you want to see a better film with similar themes, check out Huston's far superior Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.
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Bogart's Oscar winner!!
Elizabeth-32818 April 2000
Warning: Spoilers
"The African Queen" is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen! It's funny, adventurous, romantic, and overall entertaining.

My favorite part is when Charlie (Bogart) thinks Rosie (Katharine Hepburn) died when his boat, the "African Queen", was destroyed. The men of the "Louisa", who picked him up, are threatening him with death, but Charlie doesn't even care. He's too distraught about losing Rose. But then they bring her in, and he is overjoyed! She's alive!

I also love the ending, because it keeps you thinking. Since it ends with Charlie and Rose just treading in the water, you wonder if they get to safety or if they drown. I like to think that they swim to safety. But it doesn't really matter, because they're together!

Humphrey Bogart and John Huston, the director, once again create a fantastic movie. Huston also directed Bogie in such classics as "The Maltese Falcon", "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "Key Largo". So I recommend this Oscar-winning classic to anyone who wants to see one of the greatest triumphs in Hollywood!
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One of the greatest romantic films of all time
LilyDaleLady20 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I can't believe there is any doubt after fifty-five years that "African Queen" is one of the greatest romantic/adventure films of all time, and one of Humphrey Bogart's most delightful roles.

Some "classic" films appear awkward and even amateurish after all this time, due to the stunning advances in film technology over the decades, but "African Queen" remains astonishing fresh. I believe this is due to the rugged on-location filming, which is a Hollywood legend in and of itself (Please read Katherine Hepburn's excellent book "Making of the African Queen" AND Clint Eastwood's outstanding film 'White Hunter, Black Heart", for an accurate and detailed look at the goings-on behind the cameras). The realism of the location filming feels as immediate and convincing as if the movie had been filmed this year.

Bogart and Katherine Hepburn turn in what must be among the very best performances of their respective careers, as a drunken captain and a prim missionary lady. Perhaps because they are initially not very sympathetic or traditionally "good looking" or even young, their courtship is deeply touching. I think that this is one of the most moving screen romances of all time because of's a refreshing change from youth-obsessed Hollywood (then as now) to see 40-somethings in a convincing and deeply romantic love story.

My favorite scene remains the one where Charlie and Rosie, exhausted by their travails trying to get the African Queen through a reed-choked section of river, collapse unconscious in the boat, feeling they are doomed for certain death...while a crane shots shows that they have indeed reached the last portion of the reeds, and are gracefully floating into clear waters...what a beautiful metaphor for hope against all odds. This never fails to move me to tears.

Surely one of the source inspirations for modern stuff like "Indiana Jones", "African Queen" has plenty of physical adventure (white water rapids), evil Germans (always reliable baddies, even in WWI), gross out parts (the leeches) and that this film seems equally loved by both men and women. It's a grand adventure as well as a sensitive love story. The ending is one of the most deeply satisfying in all of cinema history.

That brings me to the source material -- the original novel by C.S. Forrester. Many reviewers comment on this, but I'll bet that very few have READ it. I went to great lengths to order this long out-of-print novel (so short it's almost a novella) from interlibrary loan a few years back. The film is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the book, with ONE glaring obsession. I don't think it's an actual spoiler to remark on this for film history buffs, but I'll still buffer this:

"SPOILER ALERT! (well, sort of)"

In the movie, Rosie and Charlie are married by the German captain and this is one of the satisfying romantic highlights of the film, especially as they ask to marry just before what appears to be their certain execution. However, in the book, it's revealed at the novel's end (which otherwise mostly reflects the film's ending) that Charlie is a womanizer, who has already married (but never divorced) several other women. He's a bigamist, who doesn't take his vows with the least seriousness and will undoubtedly leave Rosie, just as he has the last three wives. Furthermore, due to his bigamy, their "marriage" is a sham and certainly invalid.

This is the ironic twist that ends the novel, and I can't say I am surprised that Hollywood cleaned it up to present us with the far more conventional (and I have to admit, far more satisfying) ending that exists. However, for film buffs, I think this detail is interesting and well-worth knowing!
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One of the best of all time
Alfred Smith1 August 2014
I'm sure nearly everybody has seen this film. Many have watched it several times, as I have and find it just as enjoyable the tenth viewing as the first. The casting of the film is first class as are the direction, photography and script. Bogart and Hepburn are in incredible form as Charlie and Rose and the development of their relationship is both beautiful and hilarious. I doubt that I'll ever be fortunate enough to see a pairing of main characters as good as this ever again. If I were making a list of 100 must see films of all time , this would make the cut without second thought as the time spent on board the "African Queen" is a ride to cherish and if you haven't seen it yet, you simply must.
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The hard work paid off.
SmileysWorld28 April 2012
In the 1950's,location shooting was a rarity,so the locale selected,everyone involved with this production knew it was going to be very hard work to get this film made.They just didn't know how tough until work began.I guess it helped to have one of the best directors of that day (not to mention in all of cinema history),John Huston,paired with two of the best actors to grace the screen,Humphrey Bogart and Kate Hepburn.The story is very captivating,and these cinema giants,working harder than usual under very adverse conditions,managed to come up with a winner.Definitely on the must see list for any classic cinema fan.
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The African Queen: A gamble that paid off
dimplet9 August 2011
Cinematographer Jack Cardiff says he was offered a cut of the take on African Queen in exchange for his salary, and declined, much to his regret. I wonder how many people would have foreseen the greatness of this movie, just from the script?

Part of the problem would have been the simplicity and unpretentiousness of the concept: A semi-decrepit couple going down a river in a thoroughly decrepit boat to destroy a German warship. Nearly the entire movie consists of the interactions of this most improbable couple in 1914 cooped up on a steam-powered boat built around 1885.

But the modern viewer would more likely recognize the script's potential, for what we have here is a prototype of the Indiana Jones quests, which included a chance pairing with an improbable female, travel that required overcoming insurmountable obstacles, natural and man-made, and a seemingly impossible goal. Add to that excitement and just the right dose of humor and romance, not taking yourself too seriously, but not going over the top into farce.

If Steven Spielberg didn't deliberately use The African Queen as a model, I'll eat my hat. Heck, Harrison Ford would seem the best modern actor to fill Bogart's shoes in a remake because you can imagine him as an unshaven sop who cleans up into a hero and lover. But can anyone match Bogart's and Hepburn's acting? This is 90 percent of the picture's greatness. The movie's charm is the personal transformation of the two characters: the reserved, repressed missionary into a thrill-seeking military tactician and romantic lover; and the lazy, louche Bogart brought into line by the woman he needs to give him strength. Neither has a great deal of confidence in themselves at the start, especially in romance, yet all this changes by the seemingly impossible conclusion. So the adventure quest is also a personal, spiritual quest, not unlike the Indy films.

The adventure/spiritual quest of course predates Indy and Hollywood, going back to Ancient Greece, so it is an immortal formula, if done right. We see a variation in Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and an element even in North by Northwest.

If done wrong, if the formula is misused, the result can be preposterous, like Rooster Cogburn, a pointless, pathetic attempt to exploit the success of The African Queen by pairing Hepburn with an aging John Wayne. In African Queen, Hepburn's most potent weapon against Bogie is to refuse to talk to him; in Rooster, Hepburn bludgeons the Duke into submission by chattering him into near insanity with one of the worst scripts every written.

It is the sheer improbability of the plot that makes the story so delicious. One reviewer here said, you expect me to believe this? Well, yes and no. This is Hollywood, so it's not supposed to be entirely reality based. A movie creates an alternate universe with certain rules and assumptions, and if it is good, it is internally consistent, but at odds with reality, which is what you want to escape from. Hepburn sets down the challenge early on: Blow up the Louisa. The secondary implied challenge is to do this without Bogie and Kate tearing each other's eyes out. Since Hepburn is a righteous Christian, the movie allows for a certain amount of divine intervention. The movie carries you along, step by step, without unduly straining your credulity, if you accept the divine grace part.

The other fascination for viewers must have been deepest Africa, which was a much more mysterious unknown 60 years ago. If the movie had not been shot on location, it would have been only a shadow of itself.

So, would you have spotted the future greatness of The African Queen in 1951? Bogart, along with Casablanca, would not achieve cult status until the Sixties. Sam Spiegel's masterpieces were in the future: On the Waterfront, Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia. Residuals from TV, VHS, DVDs were inconceivable. What you were left with was a movie that was likely to be very good, like countless other movies, fun to watch, that would do well at the box office and then disappear. But, shooting on location in Africa with all its unknowns, it could also be a disaster that might never be completed.

Shooting The African Queen was a gamble, like its plot, but one that paid off beyond anyone's imagining.
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I Pronounce You Man And Wife - Proceed With The Execution
ShootingShark15 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In 1914, Rose Sayer and her brother Samuel run a missionary in a remote region of East Africa. Their only contact with the outside world is one Charlie Alnutt, who runs a small packet ship called The African Queen up the local river. When the Germans declare war and Samuel dies of fever, Rose and Charlie try to take the boat downriver and escape …

The African Queen is one of the richest, most entertaining and heartwarming romance pictures ever made. Unlike most love stories, it actually has a credible plot with plenty of action and humour to keep it steaming along. It was also an incredibly original idea for a movie; take two completely different people (and actors) with nothing in common, and slam them into a breathless adventure. This idea has been copied endlessly since, but here it is fresh, funny and memorable, as the God-fearing prim spinster Rose rubs dirty, lazy, laid-back Charlie up all the wrong ways. Hepburn and Bogart are sensational in their only film together (he won an Oscar), her naive sobriety gradually melting into real physical attraction, whilst his never-take-anything-seriously attitude is tested to the limit. The two of them carry the whole movie together, and their relationship is constantly changing and growing; a testament to the power of the characters and performances. The movie is also a technical masterpiece - a large amount of it was shot on location in The Congo and Uganda (unheard of at the time) and it deftly combines exteriors, studio sets, second unit footage and effects shots in a way that is still being used nowadays. The sheer technical challenge of it (whitewater rapids, underwater scenes, mosquitoes, shooting a whole movie on a thirty-foot boat) is something only a director of Huston's chutzpah would dare, and the end result is dazzling. Jack Cardiff's early colour photography is outstanding, and his operator was Ted Moore, who went on to shoot many of the classic James Bond films. Like so many great movies, the film was an independent production, funded by a small British company called Romulus and produced by the legendary Sam Spiegel. Written by Huston and James Agee (with uncredited work by John Collier and Peter Viertel), based on a novel by C.S. Forester (author of the Horatio Hornblower books). For a great movie about the pre-production work on this film and John Huston in general, check out Clint Eastwood's White Hunter Black Heart, adapted from Viertel's account of his work on the film (the production of which, according to most sources, was fairly torturous). I'm not normally a fan of romantic pictures - they always seem so contrived - but this is a definite must-see; two great performances, a great story and a great movie.
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Indescribably Good
Pandelis22 May 2009
A real gem of film-making! Bogart and Hepburn shine in this two-actors-adventure-movie and even without the breathtaking visual effects of todays' films, it outshines them in its simplicity and authenticity.

The plot is very good and straight and the situation where the two characters (polar opposites) interact is an eye candy for all film goers. Bogard's Oscar as well-deserved and Hepburn could won her fifth with that powerful performance. I consider the film a pioneer in war/jungle movies making and the fact that the "commandos" are so different (a Sunday school teacher and a drunk) makes it all the better.

If you have not seen it run and get it. You won't regret it.
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African Queen in B&W
gfast29 August 2006
In reference to Elentari's query about why this film appeared on TV in B&W - it was a common practice for early TV to have prints that were in B&W even if it was originally a color theatrical release - usually in the era before color TV - it would have been cheaper to produce B&W film prints. These were generally 16mm prints released to the TV studios in B&W. Some of these "TV Prints" still survive in collector's hands today. African Queen was made in the Technicolor process and all theatrical screenings would have been in color. Generally speaking it is possible to tell which (originally b&w prints) have been "colorised". They have an un-natural appearance about them, and there is a general repetition of the same color - example hats, coats, cars, all seem to the one shade of brown, or all vegetation seems to be the one shade of green. In artificial colorization prints there is not the subtle tonings of different shades of color associated with natural (original) color productions.
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