African Queen, The (1951)

 

See how distraught she is? It's cause she had to have her tea at 4:15. Damn Mud Hut Nations!
See how distraught she is? It's cause she had to have her tea at 4:15. Damn Mud Hut Nations!

Genre: Adventure Drama War Romance (USA, UK)

Starring: Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre), Katherine Hepburn (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner The Philadelphia Story)

Directed By: John Huston (The Maltese Falcon Annie)

Overview: Early during the Second World War, the captain of a small steam ship in Africa is convinced by a British Missionary to attack a German military steamer ship with homemade torpedoes.

Performance:

It's Humphrey Bogart. He's a hard-core tough guy... in all the other movies he's in. In this one he plays a man in love with a "skinny old maid". Hepburn is passable in her role of stuck-up Christian. Was there chemistry? Not really. Were the roles played in any way impressive? Nope, sorry.
Rating: 7

Cinematography:

There's some crocodiles. There's superimposed characters overlaid across stock footage of monkeys and hippos. There's gen-you-wine Afrikins! Yeeehaw! Oh and there's Germans. I still don't know what's more offensive than watching British missionaries convert a bunch of natives by singing about Jesus. Most of this is watching two people talk on a dirty old boat. Oh there's rapids twice, wheee!
Rating: 6

Script:

There's really nothing special in how these people interact. Once or twice there's a deep moment of truth or a telling touch of character but the words and/or the delivery can border on the ridiculous. There's nothing stupid or lame about how these two fall for each other, but it's nothing special either. Been there, done that... minus blowing up an enemy ship for my baby.
Rating: 6

Plot:

There's about 10 minutes of plot, and the rest is adventure. What I found to me to be the most awkward scene is right as they start falling for each other. It was rather abrupt how they went from the 'in-the-moment' surprise first kiss the "Come here and give me a kiss!" instant relationship. I guess they had to edit those moments from the novel, you know CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. At least the ending wasn't completely predictable... Ugh this story is thin.
Rating: 5

Mood:

Africa with its heat, its wild animals, its majestic beauty, a character all its own. Was that element captured? Not really, and Humphrey Bogart isn't funny when he does those overdubbed hippo and monkey impressions. For Hepburn to find it so funny proves that she's either a reclusive purist Christian with no sense of humour, or she's touched like a 'tard.
Rating: 6

If you're going to exchange words with a WWII German, it helps to be of the master race
If you're going to exchange words with a WWII German, it helps to be of the master race

Overall Rating: 60% (The African Queen of Mediocrity)
Aftertaste:

"You have to put yourself in 1951! What are you a critic?" a co-worker told me. I almost laughed. Instead I said, "I still don't see how such an old woman got a romantic role. It really doesn't do it for me." Either way, this is considered a classic. I saw it. I see what people might like about it, but if you ask me it's just "Because I remember him and I remember her being in good movies, I'll see this too. That means it's going to be good."

Easily forgotten.

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Love this movie, love the story, love the acting.

Oh, and the comment about the cinematography? This film was shot by Jack Cardiff - one of the greatest directors of photography in cinema history. Check out what he did for Powell and Pressburger. No one else could shoot in technicolor like Cardiff could.

Guess who?


No one else could shoot in technicolour like this guy? Thank God, I'd be sick of seeing other filmmakers snorefests...


In my personal opinion, this movie was in no way believable, it was boring, and I'm never getting those 2 hrs of my life back.


Can't say I disagree with you this time. The film had no plot to speak of. It was dreadfully slow at times (e.g. watching them navigate the reeds, watching Bogey act like a monkey).

One thing that really bugged me: what was with the titanic storm, with crashing waves as they were carrying out their plan? This was a lake, not the ocean. so over the top!


I actually found this to be completely watchable. It's one of my dad's favorite films. Personally, other than Bogart and Hepburn being Bogart and Hepburn I don't see what got this onto the 1001 list, but the film is NOT bad. I wouldn't even call it slow, its just not much of an adventure, when you would think a trip down a river in Africa would be more adventurous.  I do have to be a nit-picker though, because I read your review and you got some stuff wrong, the story actually takes place during WWI not WWII, though, I only know that because I looked into the book the film is based on, they don't mention much other than war between Britain and Germany in the film. Secondly, you make a big deal about the superimposing of actors over stock footage. I saw a little bit of that, but a TON of this film was shot on location in Africa, it was actually pretty revolutionary for its time because of half the production happening in Africa. Granted, whenever the actors are actually swimming they had them do that in England on a sound stage to avoid illness, but that is understandable, and using stock footage where it would otherwise be dangerous makes sense.  There's a lot of production stories about it that are pretty interesting, everyone got sick on set regularly because of the water, except Bogart, who wouldn't drink anything but the booze available to avoid bacteria, for instance.  

I don't think this is as bad as you make it out to be. I don't think its a masterpiece, but I see why it's earned it's place in film history. It wouldn't be part of my persona 1001 Before You Die list, but I can see why they included it.


And now I see that I contradicted myself a little, but whatever. Point is, not a superb film, but I liked it alright.


I have a good feeling I'll revisit this one, and suspect I'll be gentler on it the second time 'round

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