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THE AFRICAN QUEEN

Director: JOHN HUSTON

U.K.| 1951. COLOUR. 105 MIN. NEW 35MM PRINT.


The African Queen is a rickety steamer that aims to sink a German gunboat during wartime. Its crew consists of a pious spinster (Katharine Hepburn) and a gin-sodden sailor (an Oscarwinning performance from Humphrey Bogart), who, after initial sparring, strike up an unlikely romance. In the water, the tale is a nautical variation of David and Goliath; on deck, a naughty variation of Beauty and the Beast, as the reprobate hero rubs against the reverential heroine and unexpectedly strikes sparks. The journey is a voyage of psychological revelation and discovery, full of risk and danger but undertaken with no regrets (‘I’m not a bit sorry I came’)—in other words, like life itself. Revelling in the absurdity and fairy-tale enchantment, Huston breaks new ground here: his first colour film, his first comedy, and, because of the chemistry between the principals, arguably his one and only love story.—Neil Sinyard.

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