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The African Queen
ID:
1951
Comments:
Director: John Huston
Screenplay:
Producer:
Cast: Theodore Bikel, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Gotell, Katharine Hepburn, Richard Marner
Genre: Action & Adventure

Running Time: 105
Aspect Ratio:  1.33:1 (NTSC )
Sound:
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Features:
Studio:  Paramount DVD Region:  1 NR
DVD Release:  Mar 2010 Discs:  2 (DVD) [$50.99]
Purchase: 
Reviews:  John Huston made better, more powerful films than "The African Queen", but none so universally beloved, on first appearance and over the decades since. In this adaptation of the C.S. Forester novel, Humphrey Bogart (who would win the best-actor Oscar®) and Katharine Hepburn costar as an unlikely pair thrown together in German East Africa during the First World War. He's the gin-soaked skipper of what we might call the title character, a none-too-reliable steam launch chugging along the backwaters of the "Dark Continent." Hepburn's a straitlaced Methodist missionary who, following the demise of her bachelor brother (Robert Morley) and the burning of their village by Kaiser Wilhelm's troops, determines that the Queen should be used to attack the Königin Luise, a large German gunboat patrolling a lake downriver. It's an absurd proposition. Then again, John Huston and the absurd were always on familiar terms.
It wasn't until he got to the Congo that the director realized what a funny picture "The African Queen" was going to be, thanks to the odd coupling of Bogie and Kate: "One brought out a vein of humor in the other, and this comic sense, which had been missing from the book and screenplay, grew out of our day-to-day shooting." Within the gunwales of a not-very-large boat, Huston managed to devise myriad ways to keep his two leading characters on separate visual planes even as circumstance and tender emotional urgency conspired to push them together. This was Huston's first feature film in Technicolor, and the peerless Jack Cardiff ("The Red Shoes") was there to shoot it. Unfortunately, neither of them could do anything about the process-screen technology needed for, and glaringly inadequate to, the sequence of Bogart and Hepburn shooting the rapids--just about the only lapse in an enchanting fairy tale for adults. The script is credited to Huston and James Agee; the uncredited Peter Viertel, summoned to the African locations to write some additional material, would later fictionalize the experience as "White Hunter, Black Heart", a savage "roman à clef". "--Richard T. Jameson"


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