The African Queen (1951)
Genre: Adventure Drama War Romance (USA, UK)
Starring: Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca; The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre), Katherine Hepburn (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; The Philadelphia Story)
Directed By: John Huston (The Maltese Falcon; Annie)
Overview: Early during the Second World War, the captain of a small steam ship in Africa is convinced by a British Missionary to attack a German military steamer ship with homemade torpedoes.
Acting: It's Humphrey Bogart. He's a hard-core tough guy... in all the other movies he's in. In this one he plays a man in love with a "skinny old maid". Hepburn is passable in her role of stuck-up Christian. Was there chemistry? Not really. Were the roles played in any way impressive? Nope, sorry.
Cinematography: There's some crocodiles. There's superimposed characters overlaid across stock footage of monkeys and hippos. There's gen-you-wine Afrikins! Yeeehaw! Oh and there's Germans. I still don't know what's more offensive than watching British missionaries convert a bunch of natives by singing about Jesus. Most of this is watching two people talk on a dirty old boat. Oh there's rapids twice, wheee!
Script:There's really nothing special in how these people interact. Once or twice there's a deep moment of truth or a telling touch of character but the words and/or the delivery can border on the ridiculous. There's nothing stupid or lame about how these two fall for each other, but it's nothing special either. Been there, done that... minus blowing up an enemy ship for my baby.
Plot: There's about 10 minutes of plot, and the rest is adventure. What I found to me to be the most awkward scene is right as they start falling for each other. It was rather abrupt how they went from the 'in-the-moment' surprise first kiss the "Come here and give me a kiss!" instant relationship. I guess they had to edit those moments from the novel, you know CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. At least the ending wasn't completely predictable... Ugh this story is thin.
Mood: Africa with its heat, its wild animals, its majestic beauty, a character all its own. Was that element captured? Not really, and Humphrey Bogart isn't funny when he does those overdubbed hippo and monkey impressions. For Hepburn to find it so funny proves that she's either a reclusive purist Christian with no sense of humour, or she's touched like a 'tard.
Overall Rating: 60% (The African Queen of Mediocrity)
Aftertaste:"You have to put yourself in 1951! What are you a critic?" a co-worker told me. I almost laughed. Instead I said, "I still don't see how such an old woman got a romantic role. It really doesn't do it for me." Either way, this is considered a classic. I saw it. I see what people might like about it, but if you ask me it's just "Because I remember him and I remember her being in good movies, I'll see this too. That means it's going to be good."