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"The African Queen" 1951 Movie

still color photo of Kate Hepburn & Humphrey Bogart from "The African Queen" [1951]           

synopsis & history

book & author

other principals

the movie



           Surly river boat captain Charlie Allnut warns a British brother-sister missionary team in German East Africa that England & Germany are at war. He continues upriver; while he is gone, the local Germans burn down the village, take away the native villagers, and beat the brother, who becomes delirious with fever and dies. Charlie returns and helps Rose bury her brother, then they continue downstream. Rose wants revenge, and when Charlie mentions the gunboat Luisa patrolling Lake Tanganyika, she persuades Charlie to help use his steam-powered African Queen to attack the Germans. Charlie figures that Rose will give up once confronted with the dangers ahead, but she is steadfast while they pass a German fort at night and then risk three rapids. Celebrating their survival of the second rapids, they are surprised when they embrace; they back off but soon allow themselves a romantic relationship.
           Shooting the third rapids damages the boat's propeller and shaft; Charlie manages to repair the boat, and they continue downriver. They get lost in the marsh at the river's mouth and then stuck; they have no supplies left and little potable water; and Charlie gets a fever. Before turning in, Rose prays; during the night a heavy rain raises the river and the boat drifts out into the lake, almost in view of the German gunboat. (The route downriver in the book is along the Ulanga River to the Bora River to Limbasi, then Shona, and finally Lake Wittersbach.)
           Charlie and Rose build torpedoes from oxygen tanks and explosives and nails and rifle cartridges, then attach them to the bow of the boat. A rainstorm that night provides concealment, and they steer the African Queen toward the gunboat; but the torpedoes arrangement leaks, the boat takes on water and tips over, and Charlie and Rose swim for their lives. The Germans capture Charlie, who is sentenced to death as a spy; they then also capture Rose, who proudly admits their attempt at revenge on the Germans. The German captain agrees to marry Charlie and Rose before executing them; after a brief ceremony, the Germans prepare to hang them, but an explosion rips the gunboat, which begins to sink – the German gunboat ran into the half-sunken African Queen, and the torpedoes worked quite well. Charlie and Rose are thrown into the water and swim together toward safety on the Belgian Congo shoreline.

History of The Film
           About half of "The African Queen" was shot on location in Uganda and The Congo; the scenes in the marsh were filmed in Dalyan, Turkey; the second half was filmed at Isleworth Studios, Middlesex, England. Many of the crew and cast suffered various jungle sicknesses in Africa; Bogie liked to say that he suffered no illness because he drank no water there, having brought along a large supply of whiskey. Lauren Bacall accompanied her husband to Africa, and became lifelong friends with Hepburn.
           The actual boat that portrayed the African Queen was built in 1912, capsized twice during filming, and continued in service in Africa until 1968; it survives today on display at Key Largo in Florida.
           The movie opened on 23 December 1951 in Los Angeles {per Oscar rules} and on 20 February 1952 at the Capitol Theatre in New York City. The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Script, and Best Actress; Bogie won the Oscar for Best Actor. Distribution rights eventually landed back at Paramount in 1997; the film was restored – at a cost of $650,000 – in 2009 and issued on DVD & Blu-ray for Region 1 in March 2010 and for Region 2 in July 2010.

Book & Author

The African Queen novel by C.S. Forester  "The African Queen: A Tale of High Adventure"
[1935 novel] by C.S. Forester

Back Bay Books 7¾x5 pb [6/84] for $10.19
Queens House 8¾x5¾ hardcover [6/77] for $26.95
book entry at Wikipedia
author C.S. Forester [1899-1966] entry at Wikipedia

Other Principals

producer Sam Spiegel [1901-85]

director John Huston [1906-87]

writer-critic James Agee [1909-55]

screenwriter Peter Viertel [1920-2007]: Wikipediaofficial website

actor Humphrey Bogart [1899-1957]
Humphrey Bogart won the Oscar for Best Actor

actress Katharine Hepburn [1907-2003]

won Oscar for Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart)
"The  African  Queen"
[United Artists Dec 1951]

Directed by John Huston; adapted by James Agee, John Huston, John Collier & Peter Viertel from the 1935
C.S. Forester novel; Technicolor cinematography by Jack Cardiff; starring Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn,
Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Walter Gotell, Richard Marner & Theodore Bikel; Best Actor Oscar for Humphrey Bogart,
Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Actress, Best Adapted Script; listed on the National Film Registry (1994)

film credits at Internet Movie Database
film entry at Wikipedia
search for 'The African Queen' posters & photos at

watch the American trailer [2:31 min] at YouTube
watch the British trailer [2:25 min] at YouTube

Paramount remastered color Blu-ray Commemorative Box Set [3/2010] 2 disks for $39.99
extras on 2-disk Blu-ray: "Embracing Chaos " docufilm & December 1952 Lux Radio Theater broadcast
Paramount remastered color Blu-ray [3/2010] for $17.99
Paramount remastered color DVD [3/2010] for $15.99
extras on DVD: trailers, 1-hour docufilm "Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen"
C.B.S./Fox Video color VHS [8/97] for $5.99

"Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen" [2010]
1-hour docufilm included on DVD & Blu-ray above; credits at IMDb

Making of The African Queen book by Katharine Hepburn  "The Making of The African Queen: Or How I Went
To Africa With Bogart, Bacall & Huston and Almost
Lost My Mind" [1987] by Katharine Hepburn

Plume 7x5 pb [10/88] out of print/many used
Knopf 9x7 hardcover [8/87] out of print/many, many used
Screen Adaptation for The African Queen by James Agee & John Huston  "Screen Adaptation for The African Queen" [1960]
by James Agee & John Huston

Horizon Enterprises pb [1993] out of print/scarce
Horizon Enterprises pb [1960] out of print/scarce
online early version of "The African Queen" script

"The African Queen Radio Script" [1952] by C.S. Forester
Kindle Edition from Shamrock Eden Publng [3/2009] for $3.00

·            ·

"White Hunter, Black Heart"
[Malpaso/Warner Bros. May & Sept 1990]
White Hunter Black Heart  A world-famous movie director on location in Africa neglects the production of his movie for an obsession with hunting and killing one particular elephant. The main character is modeled after John Huston, the movie being filmed is "The African Queen" [1951], the movie stars are Humphrey Bogart & Kate Hepburn.Co-produced & directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; co-written by Peter Viertel, based on his novel; co-written by James Bridges & Burt Kennedy; also starring Jeff Fahey, Charlotte Cornwell, Norman Lumsden, George Dzundza, Marisa Berenson, Richard Vanstone, Jamie Koss & Mel Martin
Warner Home Video widescreen color DVD [6/2010] for $11.49
Warner Home Video widescreen color DVD [9/2003] out of prodn/used
Warner Home Video color VHS [6/99] for $16.35
27"x40" poster from Amazon for $19.99
full credits from IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia
White Hunter, Black Heart novel by Peter Viertel  
"White Hunter, Black Heart" novel [Doubleday 1953] by Peter Viertel
Penguin mass pb [8/90] out of print/used
Laurel mass pb [8/87] out of print/used

'The African Queen' Links
film credits at Internet Movie Database
film entry at Wikipedia
'The African Queen' article at FilmSite

See also Magic Lantern Video & Book Store's
"A Christmas Story" 1983 Movie Page
"A Star Is Born" Movies Page
"The African Queen" 1951 Movie Page  «« you are here
"All The President's Men" 1976 Movie Page
"Apocalypse Now" 1979 Movie Page
"The Birth of A Nation" 1915 Silent Movie Page
"Blade Runner" 1982 Movie Page
"Casablanca" 1942 Movie Page
"Citizen Kane" 1941 Movie Page
"Doctor Who" TV Series Page
"Easy Rider" 1969 Movie Page
"Walt Disney's Fantasia" 1940 & 2000 Movies Page
"Fellini's 8½" 1963 Movie Page
"The General" 1926 Movie Page
"Ghostbusters" Movies & TV Page
'The Godfather Saga' Page
"Gone With The Wind" 1939 Movie Page
"The Grapes of Wrath" 1940 Movie Page
von Stroheim's "Greed" 1924 Silent Movie Page
'Harry Potter' Movies Page
'Lord of The Rings' & 'The Hobbit' Movies Page
"Metropolis" 1927 Silent Movie Page
"Pandora's Box" 1929 Silent Movie Page
'Pirates of The Caribbean' Movie Series Page
Godfrey Reggio's 'Qatsi' Trilogy Page
'Rocky' Movies Page
"Salt of The Earth" 1954 Movie Page
"Seven Samurai" & "Magnificent Seven" Movies Page
"Sunset Blvd." 1950 Movie Page
"Treasure Island" Movies [1912-2010] Page
Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" Movie Page
"The Wizard of Oz" 1939 Movie Page
and also BlackHat Mystery Bookstore's 'The Thin Man' Movies Page
and BlackHat Mystery Bookstore's "The Maltese Falcon" 1941 Movie Page
and Spirit of America Bookstore's "Alice In Wonderland" Books, Stageplays & Movies Page
and Spirit of America Bookstore's "Ben-Hur" Novel & Movies Page
and Spirit of America Bookstore's 'Tarzan' Movies Page

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