Wednesday, September 18, 2019

CONSENSUS #59 The African Queen

SYNOPSIS: During WWI in Africa, a feisty missionary (Katharine Hepburn)  and a crusty riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) team up to try to sink a German warship.  Romance and adventures ensue as they encounter rapids and an uncooperative Mother Nature on their trek down the river.

BACK-STORY: The African Queen had one of the most famous productions in cinema history. Director John Huston insisted on filming half the movie on location in Uganda and the Congo.  The Katharine Hepburn later wrote of enjoying the experience, but had to overcome dysentery, drunken pranks from Bogart and Huston, and Hustons unique directing style. (Clint Eastwood later made a film about the production entitled White Hunter Black Heart.) The movie was a big hit with audiences and critics. It turned out the suits that thought an action / romance about an older couple would be icky were wrong. Bogart won the Best Actor Oscar and the film was nominated for Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Actress. In the most recent AFI ranking of the best movies it placed #65.

TRIVIA:  Wikipedia, imdb, making of documentary
 1.  It is based on a novel by C.S. Forester. 
2.  It has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
3.  Allnut was supposed to have a cockney accent, but Bogart could not pull it off so the character wasmade a Canadian. 
4.  The boat is now a tourist attraction in Key Largo, Florida.
5.  Bogart won his only Best Actor Oscar.  (Bogart was so sure he would not win he did not prepare remarks.) 
6.  The cast and crew were often sick in Africa (usually from dysentery from the water), but not Bogart and Huston because the only water they drank was with their copious amounts of scotch.  Teetotaler Hepburn had to make runs to puke in a waiting bucket during the church scene.
7.  Lauren Bacall accompanied her husband Bogart of Africa and served as movie mom for the cast and crew.  She nursed and cooked. 
8.  For the rapids scene, an eight foot model was used. 
9.  Huston was concerned about the overly serious tone of Hepburn’s performance so he counseled her to channel Eleanor Roosevelt, specifically her “society smile”.  Hepburn later said it was the best advice she ever got from a director.
10.  Bogart hated Africa, Hepburn loved it.
11.  Originally when the book was mentioned as a potential movie, Bette Davis and David Niven were considered for the leads.  Later, it was going to be Davis and James Mason.
12.  Huston was going to go on location in Kenya until he learned that big game hunting was illegal there.  He switched to the Congo.  Huston spent a lot of time hunting during the shoot. 
13.  Bogart and Huston played numerous pranks on the prim Hepburn.  They would write dirty words on her mirror with soap.
14.  All of the scenes with the actors in the water were shot in Great Britain because the water in Africa was dangerous.
15.  Distributors hated their first look.  They complained about Bogart’s unshaven look and thought Hepburn looked old.
16.  The novel White Hunter, Black Heart by Peter Viertel was a thinly veiled story about the making of “The African Queen”.  Viertel was one of the screenwriters on the film.  Later, Clint Eastwood directed the movie version and played the Huston character.

Belle and Blade  =  N/A
Brassey’s              =  4.0
Video Hound       =  N/A
War Movies         =  5.0
Military History  =  #32
Channel 4             =  no
Film Site                =  yes
101 War Movies  =  no
Rotten Tomatoes  =  no 

OPINION:   “The African Queen” is one of the classic movies of any genre.  While not 
definitively a war movie (as you can see above), it seems well-placed at #59.  I personallywould not have it in my top 100.  It is old fashioned entertainment. It’s an almost perfectblend of adventure and romance. There is suspense in each of travails they go throughand it builds to a surprising and satisfying ending (which is much better than in the novel).Although a little stodgy, the plot holds up better than some other supposed classics.The acting by the two leads could not be better. This is probably Bogart’s best performanceand Hepburn matches him.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with your review. Oh, that we had actors of such ability in movies today......


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