The small steamboat that they used in the whitewater scene is the same boat that Humphrey Bogart's character captained in The African Queen (1951). The boat used for the scenes in the rapids was electrically powered, but was made to appear to be steam-powered by fitting it with engines and motors developed by Special Effects expert John Evans. The glass fiber boat was built in England and shipped to Zimbabwe especially for the movie.
The picture was entered into competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1990. To attend its screenings there, Clint Eastwood halted production on his next picture The Rookie (1990) for five days. Reportedly, this cost an estimated 1.5 million dollars. Moreover, whilst at Cannes, Eastwood fulfilled his life-long ambition of meeting Japanese director Akira Kurosawa who had directed Yojimbo (1961) on which Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars (1964) starring Eastwood had been based.
Clint Eastwood vocal characterization in this picture is very different from the way audiences usually hear his voice. Eastwood speaks in director John Huston's very idiosyncratic matter which is done by way of drawing out the vowels in words.
Actor Clive Mantle earns the title distinction of being the only ever person to successfully beat up Clint Eastwood on the big screen. Mantle was around half Clint's age and reportedly struggled to keep up with Eastwood during the shooting of the sequence.
The name of the steamboat was "The African Trader", replacing the name of its source movie vessel, The African Queen (1951). Warner Brothers wanted Clint Eastwood to film the scene with the steamboat "The African Trader" in the studio. But Eastwood resisted and shot the sequence as an exterior down real life rapids and steering and piloting the vessel himself.
The film was made and released 37 years after its source novel of the same name by Peter Viertel had been first published in 1953. Viertel was also one of the movie's screenwriters. The picture was Viertel's final film as a scriptwriter.
In the later Clint Eastwood movie Blood Work (2002), portraying the doctor of Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) was Anjelica Huston. Anjelica's father was director John Huston, whom Eastwood made this film about, which is about the making of the movie The African Queen (1951). Eastwood actually plays John Wilson, a thinly disguised characterization of John Huston. In the documentary Making 'Blood Work' (2002), Anjelica talks of how she bore witness to her father's aneurism operation. She said that the fact that she plays Eastwood's cardiologist in that film, and that Eastwood had played her father in this film, she said, was "strangely convergent".
Both George Dzundza and Jeff Fahey had recently appeared in Impulse (1990) which was directed by Clint Eastwood's then soon-to-be ex Sondra Locke, who said of the casting: "It was especially strange as Clint had bad-mouthed them to me when I originally cast them in Impulse. About George he said, "I don't know why you want to cast him as a cop. He's fat!" About Jeff he said, "Why would you cast that 'pretty boy'."
The wrong title that John Wilson (Clint Eastwood) gave to the movie they were about to make was "The African Traitor". The correct title was "The African Trader". The real life title of the movie it was based on was The African Queen (1951).
The elephant gun used by John Wilson (Clint Eastwood) was a Holland & Holland Double Rifle aka a double-barreled elephant magnum. It's been valued at being worth UK £65,000. The manufacturers made the real-life gun that John Huston used whilst filming The African Queen (1951) in Africa in 1951. According to a May 1990 interview with production designer John Graysmark in 'Cue International', the production took great care of the firearm during the shoot and sold it back to the gun-makers at the end of principal photography, "unharmed, unscratched, [and] unused".
Though greatly synonymous with The African Queen (1951), the movie's character equivalent of Bogart in this film is Richard Vanstone's Phil Duncan, but this character has very little presence in the movie at all.
The central character in this film, John Wilson, based on director John Huston, is played by Clint Eastwood. In the crew credits for this movie, is a real-life person called John Wilson, who worked on the movie as a draper and upholsterer.
"Slate 1 - Take 1" for shooting this movie's movie-within-a-movie, "The African Trader", was dated 14th February 1951. In real life, The African Queen (1951), which is the film represented by "The African Trader" in the movie, didn't actually start shooting until May 1951.
When Landers hears that the rain will continue for another week, he grabs a large sheet of paper, screws it up and throws it away. It was almost certainly the production shooting schedule, which would have had to be completely re-planned if there was going to be a week's delay.
Show-business trade paper 'Variety' reported in its 31st December 1989 review: "Though the end credits note that this is 'a work of fiction' this is clearly a story about [director] 'John Huston' and the pre-production period for The African Queen (1951) (called The African Trader here). Eastwood [Clint Eastwood] plays the Huston character . . . he wears Huston clothes and hats, assumes Huston mannerisms, smokes Huston cigars and speaks with the characteristic Huston timbre."
This movie was made and first released about thirty-nine years after John Huston's The African Queen (1951) had first premiered and about thirteen years after its made-for-television sequel of the same name The African Queen (1977) was first broadcast.