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4.7 out of 5 stars
The African Queen: Special Restoration Edition [Blu-ray] [1951]
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2010
The African Queen [Blu-ray] [1951]I've read a few reviews on here commenting on different versions/prints of the African Queen, believe me the Blu-Ray version is almost perfect, one of the best transfers I have ever seen.
I would also point out it's in the original screen ratio.
I find a lot of Blu-Rays no better than the ordinary DVD version but this one is in a league of its own.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2012
The transfer of this film is really good for a picture of this age. You could not wish for anything better. It is happily in the original aspect ratio and I sometimes worry about the comments from other reviewers complaining that "it's not widescreen" when it wasn't actually made in that ratio in the first place. For those people: change the widescreen setting on your TV and cut off the top and bottom of the picture and you will be happy.
The commentary by the cinematographer is the gem on this disk and I think I enjoyed his comments more than the actual film itself. Full of fascinating detail about the filming in Africa.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2015
The perfect gift for all movie buffs is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Despite John Huston's brilliant directing, Jack Cardiff's gorgeous cinematography and the script's entertaining dialogue it's still the on screen chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn that is the film's strongest element. It almost overshadows everything else in the film as it's always the first thing brought up.

As with most of John Huston's films, it's an adaptation of a novel, this one being from 1935 and written by C.S. Forester. The changes from novel to film adaptation being for the good of the story are debatable, but them being for the best possible John Huston film would be spot on. Even if it was an adaptation, Huston knew his film was about Charlie (Bogart) and Rosie (Hepburn) and he wanted it told a certain way from beginning to end.

You could probably spot the scenes that were filmed in Africa compared to the ones filmed at Isleworth Studios, but you won't bother because the trials and tribulations of Charlie and Rosie on the steam-boat, The African Queen, are too engaging. While they certainly are the main characters of the film, Africa itself with the African Queen are characters themselves and almost just as important. All that and I didn't even mention that the film takes place at the beginning of World War I, which is a major plot point... but again secondary to Bogart and Hepburn on screen together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
WW1, East Africa, after her brother is killed by invading German troops, Rose Sayer is reliant on gruff steamboat captain, Charlie Allnut, to ferry her safely out of harms way and back to civilisation. Trouble is is that they are poles apart in ideals and ways, she is a devoted missionary, he a hard drinking tough nut with a glint in his eye. Yet as they venture further down the river, an unlikely alliance is starting to form, both in personalities and a keenness to give it to the Germans!

It's probably something of a given that The African Queen was starting with an advantage from the very first cry of action! Because to have Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn as your lead actors is not to be sniffed at, whilst also having John Huston directing is stacking the odds heavily in your favour. Thankfully history and time show us that all involved in this piece crafted a most delightful and exciting picture, yet it triumphs more as an intriguing picture than merely a meeting of Hollywood giants. Adapted by Huston and James Agee from the novel by C.S. Forester, it's believed that the original intention was to film it as an outright drama, but whether by star design or a going with the flow attitude, the picture turned out to be a drama fused with splices of humour, the kind where the tongue gets firmly stuck in the cheek.

As character pieces go, The African Queen has few peers, especially in the pantheon of 50s cinema, then you add the excellent story to work from, with the location work in Congo and Uganda expertly utilised by Huston (clearly revelling in the mix) and his photographer, Jack Cardiff. Then there is that magical flow, just as The African Queen (the boat itself) is flowing down the river, so does the film effortlessly glide along without pretentious posturing, screaming out that this is as a humane a story as you are likely to witness again. Some cynical reviewers will point to the dated studio filmed segments as a reason why this film shouldn't be termed a classic amongst classics, but really it's only an issue if you want it to dim your appreciation of the splendour from every other frame. From Bogart and his wry or humorous expressions, to Hepburn and the art of acting prim, this is a pure joy and justly it deserves to make all those lists containing greatest films of all time. 10/10
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
*** BLU RAY Version ***

Soldier ants three inches deep on the hut floor, hornet nests alongside the river bank, twenty crocodiles ready to eat you for breakfast should you actually venture into the river, dip your feet in the black rotten water of the river to dissipate the unbearable heat and a parasite called a Jigger Bug would lodge itself between your toes and eventually kill you though liver failure... When you listen to Jack Cardiff's spectacularly good feature-length commentary on the actual filming of "The African Queen" in 1951 (he was Director Of Photography), it's a small miracle that this beloved independent gem ever got made at all...

Escaping the suffocating McCarty trials in the USA at the end of The Forties and beginning of the Fifties (Bogie, Hep and Huston were all considered to have lefty affiliations), Director John Huston set off to Africa to film C.S. Forester's 1935 novel on location (an unheard of thing at the time). He dragged with him huge and cumbersome Technicolor cameras, his sickness-prone crew and Jack Cardiff's two lamps and small generator. 1st location was in Biondo on the Ruiki River in the Belgian Congo, 2nd location was Uganda and 3rd was back in the UK (all shots that required actors getting into the river were done in water tanks in London because the Ruiki was just too dangerous in real life).

Their trials and tribulations throughout the shoot are truly the stuff of Hollywood legend - Lepers carried their equipment, they bunked in bamboo huts with all manner of creepy-crawlies joining them under the netting and an African hunter who had been supplying them with meat on a daily basis was led off by authorities for suspected cannibalism (natives going missing). The water was contaminated with parasites (neither Huston nor Bogie got sick because they were gulping back whiskey), the boiler of the boat almost fell on Katherine Hepburn and nearly killed her (she was ill throughout the shoot, but trooped on), tropical rain storms turned pathways into rivers of mud, swarms of flies ate their skin and they couldn't do their necessaries because two deadly black mamba snakes were lurking in the latrine...ouch!

You learn most of these fab titbits from two sources - Jack Cardiff's commentary and a truly superb near 60-minute feature called "Embracing Chaos - Making The African Queen" (with or without subtitles). It includes contributions from large numbers of luminaries and those actually involved in the movie - John Huston and Katharine Hepburn (excerpts from The Dick Cavatt Show 1972/1973), Guy Hamilton (Assistant Director), Sir John Wolff (Producer), Angela Allen (Script Supervisor), Theodore Bickel (officer on the German boat), Desmond Davis (Clapper Boy), Jack Cardiff (DOP), Lawrence Grober (Huston's biographer), William J. Mann (Hepburn's biographer), Laurence Bergreen (James Agee's biographer), Eric Lax (Bogart's biographer), Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni (Sam Spiegel's biographer - Producer/Financier), Warren Stevens (Bogart's friend), John Forester (C.S Forester's son) and Martin Scorsese. There's even clips of and stuff about Lauren Bacall as Bogie's husband, camp cook, medical helper and general all-round on-set good person. Their romance was genuine and real and it's treated with great affection here. "Embracing Chaos..." is a feast of detail and beautifully put together storytelling - it really is.

The "Posters & Lobby Cards" extra has 6 posters (in full colour) and 6 lobby cards - a treat to look at. The "Star Profiles" of Bogart, Hepburn, Huston and Cardiff turn out to be on-screen info snippets which are good rather than great. The "Behind The Scenes" stills are photos on set with animal noises in the background - again not great. And the trailer only shows you how washed out the original film had become.

Which brings us to the print itself - it's GLORIOUS. Digitally restored in 2009, the vast majority of the film is a joy to look at. Sweat on the hairs of Bogart's arms, the lipstick on Hepburn's lips in the church scene at the beginning, the rusty and stained woodwork of the old boat itself, Robert Morley's huge bug eyes as he watches the natives huts burn...it's all beautifully rendered.

There are drawbacks - the aspect is old-school and filmed as such, so when your player actually throws the print onto a modern-day widescreen TV, it's in a centred box. However, if you adjust it to fit the whole screen, I still found it fitted well and without too much compromise to stretching. There are also sections where there's slight blurring of the focus, stock footage of the river that was damaged - but - and I stress this - it's miniscule. As I stood back from the 42" Sony and looked at the print - I was gobsmacked at how beautiful it looked almost all of the time.

But the film itself belongs to the astonished lead duo of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn playing Charley Allnut and Rose "Rosie" Sayer - an American gin-sozzled steamboat Captain and a straight-laced prim and proper English Missionary lady. James Agee's wonderfully loaded dialogue spiked up the tension between the two at first, then the slow burning romance and then the mutual appreciation of each other (Huston loved beautiful losers) right up the hoisting of the Union Jack and the patriotic torpedoing of a German gunboat at the very end. Such was the chemistry and force of their brilliant performances - both actors virtually reinvented their careers on the back of the movie (Charles Laughton and Betty Davis had initially been thought of for the parts). A genuinely amazed and humbled Bogart even nabbed the Oscar from the clutches of Marlon Brando and Montgomery Cliff.

This BLU RAY reissue is a triumph because it works on the two most important levels - the print is as lovely as it's ever going to be and the two main extras match that.

"The African Queen" is 60 years old next year and this superb 2010 Blu Ray reissue does that enduring classic proud.

Recommended big time.

PS: for other superb restorations on BLU RAY, see also my reviews for "The Italian Job", "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning", "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner", "Zulu", "The Dambusters", "Quo Vadis", "North By Northwest", "Cool Hand Luke", "The Prisoner - The Complete (TV) Series In High Definition", "Goldfinger", "Braveheart", "Snatch" and "The Ladykillers"
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Based on a novel by C.S. Forester, adapted for the screen by Director / Writer John Huston. September 1914, in Africa during WW1, everyone is escaping the Huns. An unlikely pair, drunkard Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) and the reverend's (Robert Morley) spinster sister, Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) escaping down the river form a relationship that may prove fatal to the Germans pride gunboat "The Louisa" with a 6 pounder. And then again, we have to get past rapids, leaches, and a German Fort.

Usually Blu-ray only enhances the visual but cannot enhance the story or dialog. However, with this presentation the DVD extra actually enhances the movie. Watch the film again after watching the extras. I did not realize that the film was shot in Technicolor. The sound (probably due to a better T.V. seems to have improved also.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2004
The African Queen is a wonderful product of film making's Golden Age, and offers a focused showcase of the acting skills of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Their opposite characters grow to understand and accept each other as they endure various hardships, and they eventually fall in love. The actors are excellent, and one can watch their transformation through their faces and actions, which are not over the top. Because the majority of the movie has only these two characters, the script also had to be exceptional for the movie to succeed, and is witty and entertaining.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2003
John Huston once again shows what a great director he is in making this delightful picture. It really is a character piece, focusing on the two leads and there undeniable chemistry. Bogie deserved this oscar - it arguably is his greatest performance. Hepburn is equally as excellent in playing the prim and proper, slightly stuck up passenger. Once again she shows her off talent in being able to balance the comedy elements with the melodrama - a performance also worthy of an oscar. It is testament to their acting ability and the direction of Huston that you never doubt the situation they are in - they really do look like they went through emotional and physical hell. You won't find the gloss i.e. nice spanking new costumes and perfect facial complexions here.
I for one became attached to the duo's journey - who can forget the episode with the leeches, the sheer disgust and fear on Bogie's face when he first realises the critters are on him, and the slow realisation he has to go back into the water to get the boat moving. Masterful acting it really is, and surprising coming from him.
This is a classic and was responsible for setting the template for all subsequent romantic adventures. Its a disgrace the film did not even get nominated for the 51' best picture oscar, since is thoroughly deserved to win it (an American in Paris!??!)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2006
The Reverend Sayer (Robert Morley) and his sister, Rose (Katharine Hepburn) are working as missionaries in an East African village (an area under German rule) at the outbreak of WW1. The village is attacked and burned by soldiers in the pay of the Kaiser. The trauma of the destruction is too much for the Rev and when the shock kills him, his sister is left alone - but not for long, because Mr Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), a river trader, comes to the rescue, buries Rev Sayer and takes Rosie down the river where he means to keep her out of harm's way. His reckoning is way off target however, because he doesn't know the woman he's dealing with - yet. She's a wilful and demanding customer, who soon formulates what seems to Charlie (that's Mr Allnut) a suicidal plan to ride the rapids and defeat the Germans in their best boat on (what they regard as) their own lake. After the initial jolt of having all his precious gin glugged overboard by the straight-laced maiden lady, he begins to appreciate what a right-thinking and fearless warrior Rosie is and, furthermore, Rosie begins to perceive the good-hearted, skilled and courageous captain hidden beneath the rough and drunken exterior of Charlie Allnut. No mere harsh natural environment or German Army - or Navy for that matter, is going to stop them. Two lonely people find each other, find love and hatch a hair-brained scheme. What could possibly go wrong when everything else is so right? Absolutely nothing. It's a fine film and even 55 years on, still has all the makings of a favourite film for any film connoisseur.

Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2013
An all time great, stunningly restored and presented in Blu Ray. I have seen this film on TV many times before, but not in this quality with vivid colours and great clarity. The sound is dual mono, so dont expect 21st century sound quality. However, it is more than adequate. Great performances. A 62 year old classic not to be missed.
Excellent!
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