IMDB Description: In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.
#65 on AFI Top 100
The African Queen does not break any new ground when it comes to story. It is the basic good girl / gruff guy story. But as often happens in films, the simplest things, when done properly, are usually the best.
The legendary John Houston takes a very basic script and works it with his normal delicate balance of wit and suspense. Humphrey Bogart, though not his best role in my opinion, still outshines most actors working today. And Katherine Hepburn is outstanding as the prim and proper lady forced totally out of her element. There is obvious onscreen chemistry between these two Hollywood legends, and that is one reason the movie works so well. When you have a limited script to work with, the actors must use facial and body expressions to portray their feelings. Don’t take the limited script to mean it is not a good script, because it is exactly what it needs to be.
The running time of the movie is just at an hour and half, which is exactly where it needs to be because any longer and the storyline would be stretched thin. For the time the film was shot, it is a visual feast. The African jungles and wetlands come to life under Houston’s expert eye.
The ending is a bit contrived, which does leave the viewer a bit disappointed, but overall, this is a film anyone who enjoys storytelling in its purest form can enjoy immensely.
A strong 4 out of 5 stars