Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bogart & Hepburn "The African Queen"

The African Queen is, perhaps, a flawless movie. Directed by John Huston, filmed on location in Africa, starring Katherine Hepburn as the naive missionary Rose Sayer and Humphrey Bogart, who won his only Oscar for his part, as steamboat captain Charlie Allnut, the 1951 film portrays their escapades escaping from German occupied Tanganyika during the First World War. (Bogart and Lauren Bacall were newly married. Bacall accompanied Bogart on the shoot and took home movies.) The African Queen entertains on several levels. It succeeds as adventure, drama, character study and love story.

Rose and her brother Samuel are lone Protestant missionaries in a remote native village visited monthly by captain Allnut, a scrappy "Canadian" (he has a New York accent) expatriate and alcoholic. Charlie warns them that war has broken out, and that the Germans are coming. Doing God's work, they choose to stay on. The Germans beat Samuel, and he dies from the shock. Rose relents, and after Charlie buries her brother the survivors set off down river for civilization. They face a series of adventures against man and nature. when all seems lost they emerge on lake Tanganyika only to face the Luisa, a German gunboat built on the lake and commanding its waters.

While much of the film consists of discreet episodes, such as the famous encounter with leeches, and Rose's learning what it is to be a woman as she climaxes riding the rapids, unity is provided by the interaction of this couple thrown together by adversity. She inspires him to overcome his vulgar vices, he inspires her to overcome her Christian virtues. We come to care deeply about the couple as they come to care about each other. Just as the Luisa runs a circuit on the lake, the movie comes full circle, and ends with the heros blown out of the frying pan, and into the water.

This movie should be a part of your video library. You can buy it or rent it or watch it here in full on YouTube:

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