1 Year, 100 Movies: #65 The African Queen (1951)


For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

The African Queen- a movie that I’ve loved for years. Not because it’s well shot ( it’s a pretty dated movie) or even because of the awesome conclusion to the film. I love this film because Katherine Hepburn’s and Humphrey Bogart’s middle age characters are so incredibly spot on and believable that you can’t help but root for them. Rose and Charlie are in Africa in 1914 when German forces are moving across central Africa. The village in which Rose is a missionary with her brother is burnt to the ground. Charlie is a steamboat captain on his vessel, The African Queen, which he uses to distribute goods and mail. He rescues Rose who is left alone after her brother died from fever after the raid. This is where the fun begins. Charlie is perfectly comfortable with waiting out the Germans by hiding out on the river. Rose has more adventurous plans. It’s a real joy to watch these actors verbally sparing. Of course Rose wins in the end and they continue down the Ulanga River with the idea to blow up the German boat The Queen Louisa, even after Charlie points out they would have to pass a German outpost and dangerous rapids. The Louisa patrols the large fictional Lake Wittelsbach, effectively blocking any British counter attacks.

They navigate the Ulanga River fighting many obstacles. These include (but are not limited to): three different sets of rapids, each worse than the one before, the German fort, a damaged propeller shaft and missing blade, bugs, loosing the channel and having to tow the boat by physically pulling it by a rope, leeches, and a shortage of supplies and potable water. Through it all they start up a romance that gets them through the journey. Once they finally get the chance to sink The Louisa, a storm starts up and The African Queen is overturned. They are both taken aboard The Louisa and are sentenced to death for their plan. Charlie has one last request though- for the captain of the German ship to marry them.

“I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution.”

The couple’s overturned boat comes through- floating up to The Louisa upside-down, it hits the side of the boat- and the converted oxygen cylinders-turned torpedos rigged with detonators and nails as the firing pins explode, sinking the boat and saving our couple who swim to safety in Kenya.

As much as I love this film, I have a feeling it may not make the cut the next time AFI releases their top 100 list. Thankfully I have two other John Huston films to look forward to in the list- The Maltese Falcon, which I have seen, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which I have not.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:



One response to “1 Year, 100 Movies: #65 The African Queen (1951)

  1. Pingback: 1 Year, 100 Movies: #31 The Maltese Falcon (1941) | thegreentreeischirping

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