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Should Have Won an Oscar: The African Queen (1951)



A couple of major stars, an exotic location and a terrific opposites-attract romantic adventure. Sounds like an Oscar shoe-in, yet The African Queen wasn’t invited.

In this story of a rummy riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) shepherding a shrewish missionary (Katharine Hepburn) downriver in Africa during World War I, Hepburn and Bogie are masters of catty dialogue, and their parry-and-thrust patter should float anybody’s boat.

Hepburn is amazing. She’s almost orgasmic after her first trip through some rapids early on, so you know she’s got a huge surprise ahead at the waterfall. But as good as Hepburn was, The African Queen was really Bogie’s crowning achievement.

Here, the Academy righted that wrong–he won that category–while creating another: They nonimated the movie for Actress, Screenplay and Director but sent it home empty-handed.

The African Queen

Why no Best Picture nod when it was tagged for the other major categories? Because of that old truism: No one in Hollywood knows what they’re doing.

Nominees: Decision Before Dawn, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis, A Streetcar Named Desire
Winner: An American in Paris