The African Queen (1951) is a British-American adventure film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogard, Katharine Hepburn, and Robert Morley. The film is based on the novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. The color cinematography is by Jack Cardiff (Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948)).
Rose Sayer (Hepburn) and her brother Reverend Samuel Sayer (Morley) are British missionaries in German East Africa in 1914. When war breaks out between Britain and Germany, the mission is threatened, as are the lives of the villagers. Charlie Allnut (Bogart), a gruff Canadian mechanic who delivers the mail and supplies to the mission warns Rose and Samuel that they aren’t safe and need to abandon the mission to save their lives.
When Samuel dies and the village is burned to the ground, Rose escapes with Charlie on his small steamboat named the African Queen. The two opposites form an unlikely partnership to save their lives and attack the Germans.
John Huston (1906 – 1987) was an American actor, director, and screenwriter. Huston made a name for himself as a writer and director. He directed and wrote the screenplays for most of his movies. Some of his famous films include The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), and The Man Who Would Be King (1975). John Huston is the son of the stage and screen actor Walter Huston and the father of actress Anjelica Huston. He won two Academy Awards during his long career and directed his father and daughter to Oscar-winning performances.
Katharine Hepburn (1907 - 2002) was an American actress on stage, screen, and television. She is the Oscar champ, winning four competitive Best Actress Awards. She received her first in 1933 for Morning Glory and her fourth for On Golden Pond (1981). Other Hepburn films include Little Women (1933), Alice Adams (1935), Stage Door (1937), Holiday (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Woman of the Year (1942), Adams Ribs 1949), and The African Queen (1951). Hepburn continued acting as late as 1994, concentrating on television acting in The Man Upstairs (1992) with Ryan O’ Neal and This Can’t Be Love with Anthony Quinn.
Humphrey Bogart (1899 – 1957) was an American film and stage actor. He is one of the most famous and popular movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Nicknamed Bogie, the actor toiled in supporting roles in both A and B pictures for a decade before his breakout role as Roy Earle in High Sierra (1941). Many more film roles followed including The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), Key Largo (1948), and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). His career continued with good roles in films like In a Lonely Place (1950), The Caine Mutiny (1954), and Sabrina (1954) co-starring William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. Bogart died from cancer in 1957.
The African Queen trivia
- Supposedly, Bogart and Huston were the only members of the cast and clue who didn't come down with dysentery. They attributed this to the fact that they drank Scotch Whiskey during production.
- Bogart hated Africa but Hepburn loved it.
- Lauren Bacall went to Africa with her husband and played den mother to the cast and crew. It was during this time that she developed her lifelong friendship with Katharine Hepburn.
- The African Queen was Katharine Hepburn's first color film.
- Bogart couldn't perfect a cockney accent so his character was changed from British to Canadian.
To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.
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- Do you think the relationship between Charlie and Rose was realistic? Do you think Rose would have fallen in love with Charlie if she had more experience with men?
- Did Charlie and Rose have to risk their lives to torpedo the German warship? Why do you think they took the risk?
- Is there a message/theme that the director wanted to convey?
- Was there anything about the movie that disturbed you?