The African Queen is known nowadays mainly for being the film that brought the legendary actor Humphrey Bogart his only Oscar, as well as beating out Marlon Brando for A Streetcar Named Desire. While Brando was obviously breathtaking, I feel people tend to overlook Bogart’s performance. It is not his best performance or movie, but it is still wonderful entertainment.
He stars as Charlie Allnut, who pairs along with Rose Sawyer (the equally great Katherine Hepburn, nominated here) on a trip down the river to sink a German Ship in the early years of World War One. In what had to be one of the first movies ever made about survival (LONG before Cast Away, 127 Hours, Life of Pi, and “Gravity), so much should have gone wrong with the making of this movie. Filmed almost entirely in Africa, many (if not all) of the crew members got sick (all but Bogart and Director John Huston due, according to Hepburn, to all the Scotch they drank). This is the early 1950s, so respect must be shown to the filmmakers for going out on a limb here.
The payoff is a grand cinema adventure full of hidden comedy, wonderful romance, and edge of your seat thrills. The main reasoning has to be because of the two leads, who the AFI called the greatest screen legends of all time. Everyone may have their opinions, but it is hard to pass up the talents of Hepburn and Bogart. While actors like Brando practiced “the method”, Bogart approached it naturally (“Acting is like sex: Either you do it and don’t talk about it, or you talk about it, and don’t do it.”). And Hepburn? Well, a record four oscars for acting can speak for themselves.
Parents, there is kissing, but that is really it. It is a 1951 movie, so it is all good for kids (not that it should matter, but it is not even in black and white, so that may appeal to them).
In the end, this movie is one of the classics, a movie that I would NEVER suggest Hollywood remake. There is another word to describe this film that I have not heard others say: It is a lot of fun.
Overall: 5 Stars *****