Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The African Queen (1951) drama based on (1935) novel by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John Woolf. Music score by Allan Gray. Cast: Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor - his only Oscar), and Katharine Hepburn with Robert Morley Peter Bull, Walter Gotell, Richard Marner and Theodore Bikel.
The African Queen has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

In a German East African village of Kungdu, British Reverend Samuel Sayer and his spinster sister Rose are in the middle of their church services, when the African Queen, arrives with supplies. Charlie is invited to have lunch with the Sayers, who politely are trying to ignore his grumbling stomach. During lunch he informs them about the war in Europe. The Sayers do not want to leave the small village. Unfortunately, the German troops have arrived to the village of Kungdu, and are capturing the natives and burning down their huts. Samuel collapses under the strain.

The next day Charlie returns to the village, where he finds Samuel dead, and helps Rose bury him. Charlie can not leave her behind and offers to get her out of harms way. Once they are on the river, Charlie tells her the Germans have blocked Lake Tanganyika.
Rose wants to attack the Germans by making torpedoes out of explosives and an oxygen tank, attaching them to the African Queen and ramming into their steamer.
At first, Charlie is not keen on the idea, because of the dangerous rapids ahead and tries desperately to talk Rose out of her idea. But Rose is determined to go through with her plans.

That night, a huge rain storm forces Charlie under Rose's shelter, at first throwing him out, Rose changes her mind and allows him to sleep near her. They reach the first set of rapids the next afternoon, and Charlie's is surprised to hear Rose say "it the most stimulating physical experience I ever had."

Later that night, Charlie getting drunk on Gin goes into a rant, saying that he will not sail any farther, calling Rose a "skinny old maid." (this is my favorite scene)The next morning he finds her pouring his gin bottles into the river. Hours later, he begs her to speak to him, and she tells him that he hurt her feelings by his refusal to sail with her.

At first Charlie is mad but, quickly backs down, said he was just worried that he did not think they could make it. They come upon their first obstacle. The German fort, where the soldiers shoot at the African Queen . The engine is hit, Charlie is able to repair it and they quickly sail on. Soon, they reach another rapid. Rose struggles to steer while Charlie races to keep the engine going, and although they are shook up, they reach calm waters. relieved and happy, Charlie and Rose fall into each others arms. Which quickly becomes romantic.

What will become of this mismatched couple and the African Queen?
Will they escape with their lives?

The African Queen is one of my favorite movies. I loved the chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. I could not imagine any one else in the roles of Charlie and Rose.

Fun Fact : The African Queen was played by the LS Livingston, which had been a working steamboat for 40 years. It is now docked next to the Holiday Inn in Key Largo, Florida.


  1. What an oddball pairing! Katharine Hepburn had some interesting partners in her later Hollywood careers. Another person who comes to mind is Burt Lancaster. Thanks for the spotlight piece.

  2. Dawn, I love this film. I also loved the chemistry between Bogart and Hepburn. I have seen very few films where both the male and female leads are in their middle years and fall in love. I found their love for each other so endearing. Thanks for the review.

  3. Dawn ,I'm using my new Toshiba DVD recorder and I'm watching it upsampled to 1080P High Defination and 16X9 widescreen . while I record it. Too Cool.

  4. Kim, Another interesting partner, I thought. Was John Wayne in the film, ROOSTER COGBURN (1975). Hepburn's only western.

    Silent, Thank you. Was this the first time you saw The African Queen?

    Paul, Awesome!! I bet it looks like you are there!! Watch out for the mosquitos!

  5. Dawn, I have seen The African Queen twice. I am a big fan of Bogey and Kate.

  6. Dawn , It came out great. it's too bad it's not out on DVD.

  7. Paul, Awesome! I have often wondered why it is not out on DVD.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.