AFI 100 Progress: The African Queen

“Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”

The African Queen (John Huston, 1951)

With Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

The African Queen is the cream of the crop of all those adventure-dramas that Hollywood used to do so well.  The movie follows Bogart and Hepburn (in their only film together) as they chase down a German warship during WWI in hopes of sinking it with some homemade torpedos.  Along the way, we see the relationship between them develop from its combative beginnings to a surprisingly believable romance.  The coloration is spotty and inconsistent and there are some obvious superimpositions of waterfalls and various creatures, but I’m sure that was a non-issue in 1951.  The more important thing is that the movie features some stellar action sequences, especially for its time.

Bogart has bored me in all the other movies I’ve seen him in, but he really worked for me here.  There’s a scene where he’s drunk and uses phrases like “anyone in their might rind” where he is just hilarious.  He won his only Oscar for this role, beating Marlon Brando’s performance in A Streetcar Named Desire in the process.  That’s pretty impressive.

Rating: 9/10

RIYL: To Have and Have Not, Indiana Jones movies, swashbuckling.

5 Responses to “AFI 100 Progress: The African Queen”
  1. Love this movie so much. They play off of each other so well. What other Bogart films have you seen that bored you?

    • Before watching this, I had seen The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and To Have and Have Not. I wasn’t really impressed by him in any of those, but I loved him in The African Queen.

      • I’d recommend The Caine Mutiny, In a Lonely Place, The Big Sleep, Key Largo & The Treasure of the Sierra Madre as some great Bogart roles. He’s not my favorite actor, but his work in those and African Queen are all good to me.

        I haven’t seen To Have and Have Not, but Maltese Falcon is good! I could see how it might be boring, but I like film noir too much to not love that movie. I’m not the biggest Casablanca fan so I can’t argue its merits effectively. I need to see it again.

  2. Trust me, I like film noir just as much as the next guy. It just frustrates me that The Maltese Falcon gets thrown around in conversations with personal favorites like Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity.

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