The African Queen (1951)

The African Queen
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn

'The African Queen' is an adventure film made in 1951, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. The movie is based on the 1935 novel of the same name by C.S. Forester and it has become regarded as a classic of dramatic film-making with a strong story line, and compelling, magnificent acting from Hepburn and Bogart.

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The movie received four nominations for Academy Awards and won one, for Best Actor for Bogart. The movie has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and is placed at number 65 in the American Film Institute's list of 100 Greatest Movies. Both Bogart and Hepburn are ranked at number one in the AFI's Greatest Actor and Actress lists and this is the only film in which they were paired together.

Extremely novel for the time, a good portion of the film was shot in location in the Congo and in Uganda. This was particularly difficult because of the huge unwieldy cameras needed for Technicolor. Articles of the time described the dangers of filming on location in Africa, referencing close encounters with wild animals, malaria and contaminated drinking water. Bogart and Huston didn't worry about the water, it is legend that they basically lived on Scotch, but the rest of the cast and crew (including Hepburn) all got sick.

The plot of 'The African Queen' is an unlikely one of two completely different personalities, one a drunken riverboat captain, and one one a spinster missionary, who are thrown together on a journey down an African river at the start of World War I and who develop a deeply moving love affair. The goal of their journey is achieved when they blow up a German cruiser but the deeper goal of love and respect for each other is also achieved.

Main Cast

Humphrey Bogart ... Charlie Allnut
Katharine Hepburn ... Rose Sayer
Robert Morley ... Rev. Samuel Sayer
Peter Bull ... Captain of Louisa
Theodore Bikel ... First Officer
Walter Gotell ... Second Officer
Gerald Onn ... Petty Officer


Director ... John Huston
Producer ... Sam Spiegel
Production Company ... Horizon Enterprises, Inc.,, Romulus Films, Ltd.
Screenplay ... James Agee, John Huston, from the novel by C.S. Forester
Cinematography ... Jack Cardiff
Music ... Allan Gray
Format .. Color (Technicolor)
World Premiere ... 26 December, 1951
Running Time ... 106 minutes

Academy Awards

One Win:
Best Actor ... Humphrey Bogart
Three Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Actress ... Katharine Hepburn
Best Director ... John Huston
Best Adapted Screenplay ... James Agee, John Huston