John Huston (director)
105 min (length)
18 November 2019 (released)
24 November 2019
THE AFRICAN QUEEN turned out to be one of the most successful films of all time thanks to the high-octane on-screen chemistry between its two stars, Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart (who was awarded his only ‘Oscar’ for his portrayal of gin-swilling captain of a tramp steamer).
Originally intended purely as an adventure film, this 1955 classic has plenty of humour too – courtesy of the sparkling and witty dialogue between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Here, Bogey plays hard-drinking captain cum ship mechanic Charlie Allnut, proud owner of a steamer called the African Queen which looks as unpolished as his manners are. The plot takes place in 1914 - it is the beginning of the First World War and East Africa stands under German rule. In the tiny village of Kungdu, Methodist preacher Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley) and his prudish sister Rose (K. Hepburn) are eager to spread the word of God among the visibly bored indigenous peoples. The meager supplies needed by the religious siblings are delivered to them by Charlie Allnut on his rickety little steamer. Although Charlie is the only connection to the outside world, the siblings are rather disgusted by his ill-mannered behavior. When he warns them that war has finally broken out between Germany and Britain, Rose and Samuel decide to stay on in the village. This turns out to be a bad decision because a short time later, German troops appear seeminlgy out of nowhere and burn down Kungdu. During the fight, Samuel sustains an injury from which he does not recover and dies shortly after. After her brother’s burial Rose has no choice but to pack her few belongings and climb aboard the African Queen to bring her back to the safe haven of civilization. However, Charlie remarks that they are far from being out of danger as his steamer holds a supply of gelatin explosives and for this reason alone the Germans are after him.
Rose, who wants nothing more than to revenge the death of her brother, suggests to convert the steamer into a torpedo boat and blow up the ‘Königin Luise’ - a large German gunboat which hinders the Brits from attacking the Germans. Charlie replies that this would be impossible as first they would have to sail along the dangerous Ulanga River, something that would border on suicide! Rose isn’t at all pleased over Charlie's response and dismisses his well-meant concerns as unpatriotic – provoking him further in the process. In the end he reluctantly agrees to the treacherous journey. As expected, the excursion is anything but smooth sailing, thanks to rapids, leeches, alligators, mechanical failures, sporadic attacks by the enemy and above all, Rose's dislike for all things alcoholic ... the scene in which Rose empties one gin bottle after another into the river remains one of the funniest ones in the entire film. How Charlie and Rose still manage to fall in love halfway through the journey and succeed in their mission, well, that's film history!
THE AFRICAN QUEEN, based on the 1935 novel by C.S. Forester and produced by Sam Spiegel, remains a cinematic gem to this day. It also was the first color film for director John Huston, who relied entirely on the considerable talents and knowledge of legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Now this classic has been restored and is presented in Blu-ray format and a Limited Edition Hardbound Case (3000 copies only). The Bonus Material includes a 60-page booklet and the particularly interesting 'Making Of ... Documentary' which reveals plenty of insight information, including archive glimpses and interviews.