Thursday, 12 January 2012

Review - The African Queen (1951 - Dir. John Huston)

The African Queen is very similar to Ice Cold in Alex in that it has a very linear story. Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) and Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) are traveling down a river in Africa, so it would have struggled to be anything but linear. Set at the start of World War I, Rose's missionary brother (little Robert Morley) comes a bit of a cropper at the hands of the Germans at the beginning of the film, so the piano-playing, hymn-singing, high-necked dress wearing Rose is hell-bent on revenge. The plan is to tool up Charlie's boat, The African Queen, with whacking great torpedoes and ram an enemy warship. Kaboom!

Between them and the German's death boat are a variety of river-related problems: rapids, German gun emplacements, leeches and a major lack of gin. This all makes it sound like an action packed rip-roaring adventure. It's not really. It's all quite gentle. There is some mild peril at the end but you are never really worried about the two main characters.

The acting from Bogart and Hepburn is great, as you'd expect, and it would have to be, seeing as though they are carrying the whole film. Bogart plays a rough and ready character who likes a bit of a drink (and does some premium quality hippo impersonations) and Hepburn, a prim and proper lady who discovers she is an adrenaline junkie. They are the quintessential odd couple.

You know that there are going to be some romantic entanglements, but it all seems to happen a tad too fast for my liking. One minute they hate each other and then it's all kisses and cuddles and wriggling about. Possibly not the wriggling. It feels like there should have been more of a transition period in the middle of the film. Maybe he could have given her some Milk Tray, or winked and clicked at her.

Given that, I still enjoyed The African Queen. I've never really been bothered about watching a Humphrey Bogart film (Casablanca never appeals) but I quite liked him and would probably watch another. 


If you like this you could also try:
Ice Cold in Alex, The Philadelphia Story, Apocalypse Now (only joking)

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