Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The African Queen (1951)

Director: John Huston

Writers: C.S. Forester, James Agee, John Huston, Peter Viertel, John Collier

Composer: Allan Gray

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Theodore Bikel, Walter Gotell, Peter Swanwick, Richard Marner, Errol John, Gerald Onn, John von Kotze

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The greatest adventure a man ever lived...with a woman!

Plot: In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

For as long as I can remember the AFI top 100 film list showing up with this on it, it was one of the few (and, ultimately, the last) movies on it I hadn't seen.  Now I have.  It's a good picture.  On a road trip recently I listened to a lot of Lux Radio Theater broadcasts that starred people like Bogart, Flynn, Cagney, and Robinson and this was one of them.  It's essentially the same story but condensed for a 45 minute radio broadcast.  So when I fired up Netflix streaming to watch it I was well aware of what to expect.  I dug it.  Rose (Hepburn) is WAY too uptight but then she is a staunch Christian and it is one hundred years ago.  Charlie (Bogart), on the other hand, is a great guy, my kind of guy, except that he's WAY too forgiving and accommodating with Rose.  When she pours out his last two cases of gin into the river I can't believe he didn't flip the fuck out.  Hell, the very next scene he's praising her for it.  The hell?  I assume a few days had gone by and he was sobered up and lonely as hell since she wasn't talking to him.  Shit, maybe it was the constant exposure to the hot jungle sun.  I'm going to chalk it up to that. At least leave the brother one bottle.  Geez.

The ending was fun.  I would give this a higher rating if they'd actually been hung after all.  That would have been a great, balls-out, insane ending.  I guess the Germans didn't earn their reputation for efficiency until after WWI.  Regardless, how amazing would it have been if this didn't end happily for our two lovebirds?  Hepburn wrote a book about her experiences making this picture (which I've had for 25 years and have never read).  I think it's time I dusted it off and give it a shot.  Speaking of shots...where's that gin?

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