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
From the Golden Age of cinema The African Queen
is a truly magnificent film adapted from a novel by C.S. Forester. Starring Humphrey Bogart in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Charlie Allnut, the slovenly, gin-swilling captain of a tramp steamer called the African Queen, which ships supplies to small East African villages during World War I. Katharine Hepburn plays Rose Sayer, the maiden-lady sister of a prim British missionary (Robert Morley).
When invading Germans kill the missionary and level the village, Allnut offers to take Rose back to civilisation. She can't tolerate his drinking or bad manners, he isn't crazy about her imperious, judgmental attitude. However it does not take long before their passionate dislike turns to love. Together the disparate duo work to ensure their survival on the treacherous waters and devise an ingenious way to destroy a German gunboat.
The African Queen may well be the perfect adventure film, its roller-coaster storyline complemented by the chemistry between its stars. Along with masterful direction from John Huston, the wonderful script makes this a rare treat indeed.
The film’s restoration in 2010:
ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment has partnered with Paramount Pictures to save this great classic and restore it back to its former glory. The Original 35mm three strip camera negatives were scanned at high resolution and digitally recombined using restoration tools to repair tears and scratches, remove dirt and stabilise the picture. The soundtrack underwent full digital audio restoration removing clicks, hum, and other audio defects before creating a new Optical soundtrack negative. The Digital files have been output to a high resolution digital cinema File as well as creating a pristine new combined 35mm negative and an HD master. This is a fine example of how today’s technologies can protect and preserve film both digitally and photo-chemically for the next 100 years and beyond. The film is expected to be re-released in UK Cinemas in 2010 both on 35mm prints and digital projection and is available on DVD and Blu-ray to enjoy at home.