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Drama - Historic

African Queen (1951)


Elevator Pitch

A Christian mission manned by a preacher and his sister in German East Africa is serviced by an antique river boat the African Queen, operated by a disreputable Canadian captain. After the breakout of WWI the Germans burn down the mission and the preacher dies, leaving the sister with no option but to leave on the African Queen. Once on the river she has the idea that the small craft can be used to disable a German warship, but a hazardous river journey is required. Will the captain agree, and if he does can they survive the trip?


The straight laced preacher’s sister, Rosie, and the African Queen’s captain Charlie do not get on, but when he agrees to the voyage she warms to him. The vessel makes its way down river past  herds of African wildlife and at one point a German fort. They must survive rapids and a waterfall, and a damaged propeller has to be repaired. Charlie drinks gin, until Rosie pours it all away. There is no nudity although Rosie is seen in her underwear – more extensive in 1914, than might be expected today, and they do kiss rather decorously.

A View This is a classic included in many people’s must see lists. I’m not quite sure whether the restoration of it has been an advantage since the clarity of view exposes its faults. When Rosie is not actually steering the boat it looks like it, and when a model is being used it is obvious, and unfortunately the music is a bit overpowering. But it allowed Bogart to win his only Oscar, and it is probably worth your time if you have an interest in cinema.
Duration 1h 45m Rating (UK) U
Source of story A novel of the same name by C.S. Forester.
Director John Huston
Writers/Script James Agee, John Huston (John Collier, Peter Viertel uncredited)
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Robert Morley, Theodore Bikel, Walter Gotell.
Additional Info Katherine Hepburn wrote a book “The Making of the African Queen: Or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind” published in 1987” .

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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