African Queen The (1951)

African Queen The (1951)

Directed by John Huston who adapted the C. S. Forester novel with Pulitzer Prize winner James Agee this essential adventure drama set during World War I stars Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn (their only pairing). This helped Bogie net his only Oscar on his second of three Best Actor nominations. He plays the scruffy crude hardened steamboat captain Charlie Allnut. Hepburn picked up her fifth of 12 Best Actress nominations for her portrayal of prim proper and religious Rose Sayer. Director Huston (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)) picked up his third of five Oscar nominations whereas he shared his sixth of eight Screenplay writing nomination with Agee. In an extremely competitive year the film itself failed to receive a nomination. It was added to the National Film Registry in 1994. #17 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list; #14 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Love Stories list. #48 on AFI’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies list.

When Rose’s missionary brother Reverend Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley) dies – after his mission and its village is burned down by German-led natives shortly after the onset of WW I in 1914 Allnut rescues her; they ‘escape’ on his supply boat the African Queen. While trying to decide where to go/hide Rose hatches an idea to traverse a seemingly impassable river route to ‘torpedo’ the German warship Louisa which strategically patrols a lake within the continent. Initially Allnut humors Rose thinking that the roughness of the river will scare away the old maid’s crazy notion. Instead the excitement emboldens her. Allnut continues reluctantly and along the way the two encounter obstacles that include huge rapids a German fortification a narrowing channel and even leeches. During the adventure their relationship develops from respect to fondness and then love. Rose and Charlie eventually make it to the river to take on the Louisa captained by (actors) Peter Bull (whose character has one of the funniest ‘last’ lines onscreen) and Theodore Bikel.

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