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THE AFRICAN QUEEN

Director: JOHN HOUSTON

105 minutes| U.K.| 1951| Colour| D-Cinema


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Digitally restored to its former Technicolor glory for this 60th anniversary reissue, The African Queen – adapted from C. S. Forester’s novel with a sharply perceptive script by James Agee, John Collier and director John Huston – is basically an amiable romantic fairytale in which Beauty (Katharine Hepburn’s primly puritanical missionary lady) is awakened by the Beast (an unshaven, uncouth Humphrey Bogart). After a slow start, it settles down beautifully as the ill-suited couple sets off in a rattletrap boat for a long, crazy cruise down a perilous African river, to end in love and a spectacular contribution to the war effort against the Germans.

Beautifully shot by cameraman Jack Cardiff, mostly on authentic locations, the hazards of the voyage are depicted with hallucinatory authenticity. Partly because of this, and partly thanks to Hepburn and Bogart, the well-worn plot device of a love born of shared peril is lent a depth of conviction that takes it right out of the rut.(Notes by Peter Walsh).

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