100 Movies to See Before You Die- “The African Queen”

“The African Queen” is a 1951 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. I had not seen this before and really knew nothing of the story so I went into it with very few expectations except to see why this movie has stood the test of time. It was not a huge award winner. Bogie won a best actor trophy and it was nominated for Director, Screenplay, and Actress, but didn’t win in any of those categories. The film also did a lot of shooting on location. This was still pretty rare at the time due to the large size of the Technicolor cameras that were used to film movies.

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Should this film be considered a classic? This is one of those movies that has aged very well. The acting is polished and top notch. The characters, despite having very little exposition, are easy to follow and instantly attractive. The story is as simple as they come and allows the viewer to focus on the fine job Bogie and Hepburn do on the screen. Yes, this is definitely a classic. This movie had to be completely carried by the two main actors because so much of the screen time is completely devoted to them. The bulk of the movie takes place on a 30 foot boat with only two people on it and lesser actors would have failed miserably at keeping an audience engaged since so much of the movie is simply the back and forth banter between the two stars. I really can’t say enough about their performances. They play the scoundrel and straight laced good girl to perfection!

The movie is also a lot of fun. It does a great job balancing comedic elements, tension, whimsy, and romance. Sometimes it feels like an action movie, others a romance, and others a drama. Still, it never feels confusing or like it is trying to do too much.

Would I own this film? Yes, I would. It’s one of those films that is a joy to watch. Even though the conditions were often terrible that the crew was filming in, the cast pulled everything off in such a way that the viewer can’t help but be whisked away on their adventure. That is the mark of a truly good movie for me. When the movie is done so well that I get caught up in the adventure the characters are having on screen and with “The African Queen” you can’t help but to get caught up in it.

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