THE AFRICAN QUEEN
SUNDAY, 9TH MARCH, 10.00 A.M.
TUESDAY, 11TH MARCH, 8.30 P.M.
RUNNING TIME 105 MINUTES
This is a BRAND NEW PRINT of the old classic.
Review from The Sydney Film Festival:
John Huston wryly maintained that his film projects were simply a passport to enable his chosen life adventures and this artful adaptation of CS Forester's novel (co-scripted with James Agee) would attest to that. Gorgeously filmed in Technicolor by master cinematographer Jack Cardiff on location along a 100-mile stretch of the Belgian Congo, Huston roped in an impressive cast and crew on this particular escapade and made a great film in the process. The charming WW1 adventure-comedy charts the antics of upright missionary Rose, and her intoxicating encounter with Charlie, an alcoholic river trader. Katharine Hepburn, the queen-of-wit, delivers a gorgeous performance as Rose, and Humphrey Bogart received his sole Academy Award® for the superb turn as Charlie, the comic drunk, a role deliciously against type.
Review by Tim Dirks:
The African Queen (1951) is the uncomplicated tale of two companions with mismatched, "opposites attract" personalities who develop an implausible love affair as they travel together downriver in Africa around the start of World War I. This quixotic film by director John Huston, based on the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester, is one of the classics of Hollywood adventure filmmaking, with comedy and romance besides. It was the first color film for the two leads and for director Huston.
The acting of the two principal actors - Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn - is some of the strongest ever registered on film, although this was their first and only pairing together. They portray an unshaven, drinking and smoking captain of a cranky tramp steamer, and a prissy and proper, but imperious and unorthodox WWI-era African missionary spinster. [This was 44 year-old Hepburn's first screen appearance as a spinster, and marked her transition to more mature roles for the rest of her career. At 52 years of age, Bogart was also past his prime as a handsome, hard-boiled detective.] John Mills, David Niven, and Bette Davis were, at one time, considered for the lead roles.
During the course of many hardships and quarrels along a course filled with tropical dangers and 'evil' Germans in a warship, they develop a hard-earned love and respect for each other. The real prize and goal of their water journey down the Ulonga-Bora, other than the destruction of a German boat, is to overcome the various psychological obstacles that stand between them.
[There is a remarkable resemblance between Disneyland's 'Jungle Cruise' attraction and this film. A 1977 TV remake starred Warren Oates and Mariette Hartley. In 1987, Hepburn wrote a pungent account of her experiences during the shoot in her first book, The Making of the African Queen, or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind. Actor-director Clint Eastwood also chronicled the making of the film in White Hunter, Black Heart (1990), basing it on Peter Viertel's 1953 account of his experiences making the film and working on James Agee's script with John Huston.]
Directed on location (on the Ruiki in the then Belgian Congo and the British protectorate of Uganda) by John Huston (it was his ninth feature film and fifth film with Bogart), the film was nominated for four Academy Awards - Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Screenplay (James Agee and John Huston), Best Director, and Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart). Bogart was the only one to win - the film's sole Oscar. In hindsight, Bogart's award (his sole career Oscar) was probably consolation for the oversight he experienced three years earlier when he wasn't even nominated for one of his best roles as Fred C. Dobbs in Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).