John Huston’s classic Oscar-winning film The African Queen (Humphrey Bogart’s performance won him his only Oscar while Katherine Hepburn was pipped by Vivien Leigh) is a tough comedy adventure set in Africa during the First World War. Bogart plays Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking, woman-hating owner of The African Queen, a decrepit steamer that trades up and down the river, and Hepburn is Rose Sayer, the sister of missionary Reverend Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley in one of his most delightful performances).
When troops destroy the village, an assault that leads to the reverend’s death, Allnut agrees to take Rose back to civilisation. But she becomes fixated on revenge and persuades him that if they journey down the dangerous river to the massive lake, they can sink the armed German ship moored there. And so begins one of the most enduring cinematic relationships ever portrayed as the strait-laced spinster and the boozed-up captain set sail.
The script is actually a straightforward thriller, but the two stars play their roles with such tongue-in-cheek relish that the dialogue literally crackles off the screen. Although much of the film is studio-based, Huston insisted on filming in Africa (providing the inspiration for Clint Eastwood’s White Hunter Black Heart), where he and Bogart merrily boozed away. Hepburn disapproved, pointedly drinking water until she realised that the drink was keeping them free of illness while she fell prey to disease (as did Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall, who accompanied the shoot).
She also came up with one of the great comeback lines: she and Bogart had to film a scene in the river and Hepburn was worried about crocodiles. “Don’t worry,” said Huston, “I’ll have the prop men fire a few rounds of ammunition into the water – they’ll be scared by the noise.” “But what,” asked Hepburn, “about the deaf ones?” She later wrote a book of the experience, entitled The Making of The African Queen (Or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind ).
USA / 105 minutes / 1951
Director: John Huston
Writer: James Agee, from C S Forester’s novel
John Huston C. S. Forester James Agee
Robert Morley as Rev. Samuel Sayer
Peter Bull as Captain of Louisa
Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut
Katharine Hepburn as Rose Sayer
Theodore Bikel as First Officer
Walter Gotell as Second Officer
Peter Swanwick as First Officer of Shona
Richard Marner as Second Officer of Shona
and this just in
The Jack Benny Program: The Bobby Darin Show (CBS 28 Jan 1964)
The Bobby Darin Show: With the movie studio still working on the Jack Benny biography movie, Jack insists on playing...
Father Knows Best: Big Sister (S4EP14 NBC 8 Jan 1958)
Big Sister: Betty is assigned to be Kitten’s counselor at summer camp, but after she throws her authoritative weight around...
McHale’s Navy: Carpenter in Command (S2EP33 ABC 28 Apr 1964)
Carpenter in Command: In temporary command of the base, while Binghamton recovers from a broken leg, and drunk with power,...
Hunter: Girl On the Beach (S4EP16 NBC 16 Feb 2018)
Girl On the Beach: Hunter looks after Captain Devane to make sure he doesn’t do anything extreme after his ex-wife...
Hunter: Naked Justice Part 2 (S4EP15 NBC 9 Feb 1988)
Naked Justice (2): In his investigation of the death of a famous movie actress, Hunter follows a contract killer into...
The Rockford Files: The Man Who Saw the Alligators (S5EP17 Cozi TV Sat 22 Dec 2018)
The Man Who Saw the Alligators: A former hitman, who was captured and sentenced to prison by Rockford’s efforts, will...
Hunter: Naked Justice Part One (S4EP14 NBC 2 Feb 1988)
Naked Justice (1): Detectives Hunter and McCall are assigned to investigate the mysterious death of a famous movie star; they...
Vikings: The Lost Moment (S5EP14 History Wed 19 Dec 2018)
The Lost Moment: As the celebrations for Ivar continue in Kattegat, grief hits Iceland and Floki must now make a...
Deadly Shores (2018, Carly Schroeder, Phillip P. Keene)
In gripping thriller Deadly Shores a woman moves away to a distant island as she becomes the new bride of...
Deadly Exchange (2017, Lindsay Hartley, Jason-Shane Scott)
In Deadly Exchange, Samantha and daughter Blake invite Chloe, a foreign exchange student from Britain, into their California home. The...
History of Mr. Polly, The (1949, John Mills, Betty Ann Davies)
In this pleasant adaptation of the H G Wells novel, John Mills plays the eponymous Mr Polly who, disillusioned by...