Thursday, 6 January 2011

The African Queen: A Tale Of Leeches and Waterfalls

It's been a pretty rough few days as I have been quite ill with a stomach virus that has made me stay off school for the rest of this week. The fact that I have been in bed the past few days has been a perfect opportunity to catch up with extra films from Christmas left over from the holiday. Yesterday I managed to get through three: The Petrified Forest, The Little Foxes (again, but this time on DVD. Hurray!) and The African Queen. I liked all of these, but I couldn't review The Little Foxes so soon after reviewing it earlier in 2010, and The Petrified Forest can be summarized in some bullet points here.
  • Leslie Howard - Very good acting. Perfect for the role of Alan Squier, Bette Davis' lover.
  • Bette Davis - Very blonde. I have seen better from her but she definitely portrayed Gabrielle well.
  • Humphrey Bogart - Great as usual, in typical gangster form.
  • General thoughts - The script came from a play,  and it seems that it hasn't been changed a great deal, leaving the pace of the film at a very slow speed. The sets were very plain and seemed to make no effort to hide their painted look, however this worked well for the film as it was very like a filmed play.
But out of all the films I watched, The African Queen stood out the most and has earned its place up there in my favourite adventure films with The Great Escape.

The African Queen
Directed by John Huston, son of Walter Huston, father of Anjelica Huston. All Hollywood stars.
Humphrey Bogart Humphrey Bogart ...
Katharine Hepburn Katharine Hepburn ...
Robert Morley Robert Morley ...
Rose Sayer and Rev. Samuel Sayer are a brother and sister pair working in Africa as missionaries, but when the Germans suddenly invade Africa at the start of WWI, their lives are changed forever. One day, sailor Charlie Allnut comes in to give them their mail and after he leaves the German troups come in and destroy the village they live in. Samuel catches what seems to be Malaria and dies whithin hours. Left all alone, Rose meets Charlie again and he offers to take her on his boat, "The  African Queen" and look for a safe place to hide during the war. She takes him up on his offer and they sail down the river quite peacefully until Rose has the idea to build torpedoes and ram them into the German steam ship, "The Louisa". Allnut initially refuses to take part in such a daring adventure, but is soon swayed by Rose's enthusiasm.
On the journey to the lake they encounter many trials, such as fast rapids and waterfalls. Charlie is convinced that after the first rapid Rose will be discouraged, but it just makes her more passionate about getting there.
Just a little bit wet.
He refuses to go any further but Sayer pursuades him telling him that he promised to take her all the way (after pouring all of his gin out of the boat).
She goes...
And he goes...
The pair soon fall in love and make most of their way there succesfully until "The African Queen" gets stuck in a swamp and Charlie has to pull the boat, subsequently getting covered in leeches.


They manage to get to "The Louisa" but their boat sinks before they can get to the ship. They are both sentanced to death, but just before their hanging they ask to be married by the Captain. As they are about to be hung, they run over "The African Queen" which still has the torpedoes attatched to it, and the ship blows up, fortunately leaving Rose and Charlie unharmed.

The Review:
This is a great film with some wonderful comedy moments, including Humphrey Bogart mimicking monkeys.
John Huston is a wonderful director and he does a good job directing a film that would be otherwise ridiculous. Hepburn and Bogart both do extremely well in what is essentially an action-packed double hander. Bogart won his first and only Oscar for his portrayal of Charlie Allnut. Well worth the time, and the new remastered version released in 2009 is amazing - the colour looks brand new.



Josie said...

The Petrified Forest isn't one of my favorite Bette Davis movies.. Now, Voayger was on television this morning, and I think it's safe to say that is my top pick. It's just so perfecttt. (:

Have you seen The Bride Came C.O.D.? It's a less-known one, starring Bette and Jimmy Cagney. It's.. different then both of their usual parts, but I like it a lot.

Madeleine said...

Yes Josie, Bette is very perfect in Now Voyager :). I have heard about The Bride Came C.O.D, it looks fun. Lots of falling on cactuses!


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