Celebrating Great Films

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The African Queen

The African Queen#136 at time of writing.

This film starts off slow, and shows its age, but give it twenty minutes and you're strangely hooked. The bulk of the story is taken up with the witty banter between Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart's characters while they meander down an African river to avoid - and then pursue - German soldiers during World War I.

There are many wonderful exchanges while Rose Sayer, the high-minded missionary, is brought gently down to earth by Charlie Allnut, the gin-swilling water-rat. A fine balance is achieved between comedy, realism and romance. This role deservedly won Humphrey Bogart the only Oscar of his career.

Behind the scenes, to show her disgust with the amount of alcohol that John Huston (the director) and Humphrey Bogart consumed during filming on location in the Congo, Katharine Hepburn drank only water. As a result, she suffered a severe bout of dysentery.

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