The African Queen (1951)
The African Queen is considered a classic by many film forums. Forums like The American Film Institute and Four Star Movies: 101 Greatest Films of All Time has this film listed as one of the greatest. Where the film really draws the attention is the acting by Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, two unlikely actors to come together with enough chemistry to form a sweet love story. The film was the first color film for both actors and the film was Hepburn's official transition into much more mature roles. With the film's two main characters, Charlie and Rose, having the quintessential love hate relationship in a complicated world, The African Queen creates the classic Hollywood theme of a love story. With the story written during and for a time of war it includes the realistic tone that every film should have. The African Queen is considered a classic, but some of its elements may suggest that it may be given too much credit.
I have always liked Humphrey Bogart in every film he's done. From The Maltese Falcon to my absolute favorite of Casablanca, I was excited to discover another Bogart film that I predicted would be another great movie of his I could love. I was also excited to see Katherine Hepburn, who I've grown to really like and admire, in another film after watching Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and On Golden Pond. But this film disappointed me. Maybe I had overestimated it and expected too much, or this film may be given too much credit. The script's dialogue is fun and at times inspiring to hear, but sometimes a little too juvenile and predictable. My favorite dialogue of the film had to be Katherine Hepburn's line, "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put into this world to rise above," which can still be considered an inspiring and thoughtful concept today in a peaceful world and a world of war. My least favorite line is when Rose asks Mr. Allnut what his first name is and after he tells her, she repeats it like a schoolgirl with the name of her crush, "Charlie. Charlie. Charlie." It was a tad juvenile of a scene for Hepburn to me. The development of Hepburn's character is a little forced and too quickly morphed. With a woman of her age, she would be set in her ways and morals. She acts like a girl of 12 after her first kiss with Charlie and wavers quickly on her standards with him while on the river which makers her metamorphosis a little unbelievable. The conflict between the two characters, which would be their own personalities butting heads, was left early in the film and the rest of the time we are left watching two people just take a ride down the river and later on bomb a boat, which by the way seems a tad unbelievable at the end. But in the case of the characters, Hepburn's character seems more unbelievable than Bogart's character Charlie. Bogart does a good job portraying Charlie and does a believable job in falling for Rose. But Rose seems to fall too quickly and wavers fast on her long-standing choice of life as a missionary.
Bogart's acting was well done and well deserved of an Oscar nomination, but the win could be debatable. With Marlon Brando's A Streetcar Named Desire, this viewer just has to say that the Oscar that year should have gone to Brando. But I understand that the character was different than what Bogart is usually seen doing and that was probably the reasoning for the win. Hepburn's acting was mesmerizing, but at times she seemed to be somewhat unbelievable and especially prissy in the beginning. She was starting to become admiring and likable when she "let her hair down" so to speak and really got dirty traveling down the river. Putting these two actors together was hard to imagine, but they did pull off their chemistry nicely and slipped easily into the characters.
The cinematography for the film was especially tasteful considering its time frame and its transition to color. Though the green screen was noticeable during Charlie and Rose's trip...
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