the african queen


humphrey bogart
katharine hepburn

jack cardiff


marlene dietrich
joan fontaine
rita hayworth
margaret lockwood
carol reed

fritz lang
f.w. murnau
leni riefenstahl
josef von sternberg
conrad veidt
wim wenders

all quiet on the western front
beauty & the beast
birth of a nation
blue angel
cabinet of dr caligari
the kid

frank capra
charlie chaplin
alfred hitchcock
erich von stroheim
robert wiene

richard attenborough
richard burton
john gielgud stewart granger
cary grant
jack hawkins
trevor howard
james mason
john mills
david niven
laurence olivier
eric portman
dennis price
richard todd
peter ustinov

isabelle adjani
ursula andress
f. barber
emmanuelle beart
j. bisset
madeleine carroll
julie christie
josette day
britt ekland
ava gardner
valerie hobson
grace kelly
margaret lockwood
m. sologne

      african queen

african queen

j o h n   h u s t o n ' s  :  c l a s s i c  ]

"John Huston only made it on the Congo so he could go on safari!"
- Paul Page

credits | making | books | dvds | videos
the african queen
humphrey bogart | katharine hepburn
alec guinness | audrey hepburn | stanley holloway
kind hearts and coronets

african queen



      John Huston, 1951


      Sam Spiegel

    running time:

      103 minutes. Colour


      James Agee and Huston


      from the novel by C.S. Forester



      Allan Gray

    main cast:

    oscar (1951):

    oscar nominations:

    • best actress (Hepburn)
    • best director
    • best screenplay

african queen


    In his novel White Hunter, Black Heart, Peter Viertel claims that John Huston insisted on filming The African Queen on location in the Congo rather than on the back lot of some studio simply because he wanted to go on safari and, he hoped, shoot an elephant. Knowledge of Huston's character suggests that this is very probably true.

    Whether it is or not, to film on location was an inspired decision which, with the unconventional but equally inspired casting of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, made The African Queen an exceptional movie. Bogart as an ignorant, gin-soaked riverboat captain; Hepburn as a dried-up spinster, a prim, forbidding English missionary? No, no, you think, only Hollywood could have come up with anything so preposterous. And yet it works. As we watch this unlikely couple fleeing from the German forces in the First World War, making their hazardous way down a barely navigable river, taking Bogart's boat, The African Queen, through perilous rapids while at first despising each other, then gradually, reluctantly, falling in love, disbelief virtually suspends itself. No effort is required because the splendour - and obvious discomfort - of the locations is clearly genuine and because these people, changing and growing, discovering within themselves and each other qualities of strength and resourcefulness that neither had suspected, are eminently credible.

    There is romance here, danger, excitement and a leavening humour that springs naturally from the characters and the situations. Admittedly the climax, the daring assault on the German cruiser, is sentimental, glib and - let's be honest - highly implausible. But above all it is right. Nothing less than a triumphant ending would have been remotely acceptable.

    Incidentally, Peter Viertel worked, uncredited, on the script. His book, one of the best novels about the movie industry, was filmed in 1990 with Clint Eastwood as the thinly disguised Huston. Both on page and on screen it makes an interesting companion piece to The African Queen itself.

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credits | making | books | dvds | videos
the african queen
humphrey bogart | katharine hepburn
alec guinness | audrey hepburn | stanley holloway
kind hearts and coronets


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Changes last made: 2004