The African Queen (1951)

Genres - Adventure, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Adventure  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Matthew Doberman

Yes, you know that the amusingly juxtaposed boozy sailor (Humphrey Bogart) and missionary's sister (Katharine Hepburn) will eventually see past their opposite-world differences to find love. But getting from A to B has never been so much fun as it is in this John Huston masterpiece. The African Queen is a sterling example of the kind of rollicking adventure that makes classic film enthusiasts pine for the old days. It has it all: action, comedy, and romance that unfold in a perfect synergy of plot, character, and dialogue. The film was deservedly nominated for four key Oscars: for Huston and James Agee's screenplay, for Huston's directing, and for Bogart and Hepburn, though only Bogart won (the only Oscar of his career). Bogie and Hepburn were in the primes of their careers here, and their talent shows. We buy that they grow to love each other, and the actions and incidents that prove their devotion -- Rose jumping into the leech-infested water to help Charlie, for example -- come across with genuine emotion. The only easy point of criticism (a big one for those who like their plots tight) is the ironic nautical coincidence that brings about our heroes' salvation. The beautiful on-location filming in the then-Belgian Congo and British Uganda was legendarily difficult. But, like Charlie and Rose trying to get that boat down the river, Huston and his team never gave up. Filmgoers everywhere should be thankful for that.