The African Queen
, John Huston's 1951 classic set in Africa during World War I, garnered Humphrey Bogart an Oscar for his role as a hard-drinking riverboat captain who provides passage for a Christian missionary spinster (Katharine Hepburn). Taking an instant, mutual dislike to one another, the two endure rough waters, the presence of German soldiers, and their own bickering to fall finally into one another's arms. Based on CS Forester's novel, this is classic Huston material--part adventure, part quest--but this time with a pair of characters who'd all but given up on happiness. Bogart (a long-time collaborator with Huston on such classics as The Maltese Falcon
and Key Largo
) and Hepburn have never been better, and support from frequent Huston crony Robert Morley adds some extra dimension and colour. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com
On the DVD: A trailer, a gallery of contemporary posters and stills, plus some text biographies of the principals, simply whet the appetite for the main extra feature here: an audio commentary by veteran cinematographer Jack Cardiff. The man responsible for the lush, albeit studio-bound jungle textures of Black Narcissus faced innumerable challenges lighting real Borneo jungle in the heart of the Congo for Huston's ambitious project, and here he relates all the behind-the-scenes anecdotes of disease, infestation and disaster that plagued the production. It's a real treat to hear one of the last survivors of the Golden Age filmmaking happily reminiscing about one of cinema's classic pictures, talking companionably of Huston, Bogie and Katie Hepburn and what everyone--cast and crew alike--endured to finish the picture, from lepers carrying their gear to the location, Huston fishing while directing, hornets stinging the crew, to terrible sickness brought on by drinking unfiltered lake water (except Bogie and Huston, who stuck religiously to the whisky!). The movie itself, in its original 1.33:1 ratio, looks just fine, and the sound is an unfussy digitally remastered mono. --Mark Walker
John Huston's romantic river epic starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in their only on screen pairing. Rose (Hepburn) is a prim missionary who is forced to team up with gin-swilling river trader Charlie (Bogart) when her village is destroyed during the Great War. As they flee from the Germans down the Congo, aboard the trader's battered ship, The African Queen, their mutual dislike turns gradually to love. Shot in rich Technicolor by celebrated cinematographer Jack Cardiff, the film has gained classic status over the years. Bogart won an Oscar for his portrayal of the gruff, cynical sailor.