Home > Uncategorized > Sunday Screening #9: The African Queen

Sunday Screening #9: The African Queen

I’m not going to delete Paul’s post, just push it down, because clearly, my efforts are more important. Here is this weeks video intro.  Also, the glare is on purpose, I just forgot to use it the way I wanted to…

This weeks film is the John Huston classic The African Queen. The film stars Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. One of the Screeners has commented to me on Twitter that “African Queen = classic. Julie Adams in a swimsuit = more of a classic” so I am looking forward to it.

One thing about this film, apparently the DVD release is currently out of Print, so it is not available through Netflix. I am lucky enough to live in a town that has several amazing video stores that stock rental copies, so I will be going down that route for this Sunday. Nate has decided to watch the movie on the internet, I have found it on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHTNgcSsxF0 and will post a better link if one is found.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 13, 2010 at 12:29 AM
  2. January 19, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    So, I wasn’t really in a moving watching mood today after a hectic weekend of cross-country travel, but since I’m already a week behind on Weekend (showed up 8 hours after I left on Friday), I couldn’t justify putting this off. I say all that because I feel it affected my viewing experience.

    I liked The African Queen, but feel as though I should have liked it more. My biggest issue was my focus, which I attribute to the weekend stuff. I was in and out of the film. Because of this, I took pretty inadequate notes.

    One thing I wondered was if Werner Herzog was inspired by this film at all when he made Fitzcarraldo. There are some big differences, but they similar (moving through an allegedly impassible river), except Herzog also had to pull a boat over a mountain…

    Once Bogie and Hepburn are on the boat, I totally forgot that they were going to blow up a boat. The travel along the river is so episodic that the fact that there is a goal just slipped my mind.

    I’ve got mixed feelings about Hepburn. I don’t particularly like the way she talks and her persona frequently bugs me. Some may argue that I’m afraid of strong women in film, but I think I just really identify with the male leads (in this case, Bogie) because they are usually so calm and cool throughout. I do admire Hepburn for really de-glamming for the role and powering through when she was incredibly sick.

    When they pass the Shore base (I’m too lazy to look up spelling), it sounded like they pitched the German voices up a little to make them sound silly. Did anyone else think that?

    Finally, I was incredibly happy to see an appearance by Peter Bull, who you may all know as the Russian Ambassador in Dr. Strangelove. That guy is awesome.

    • January 27, 2010 at 10:22 AM

      I felt it hard to focus on African Queen a little bit as well, but I’m going to attribute that to a weak plot. I felt that the film didn’t really treat the threat as seriously in the early parts of the film as it does towards the end. I never once felt that there were lives on the line, maybe I missed something early on. It seemed like they wanted to get to the lake to spread the word of the Germans, but not that they HAD to.

  3. January 20, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    My DVD of Weekend is, pitiably, still in Netflix limbo, with my queue telling me it’s “at home” when I haven’t seen it yet, even though I’ve theoretically been allowed an extra DVD. Whatever.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed watching The African Queen. Although for some reason I felt extremely thirsty for a glass of Jim Beam or a similar alcoholic beverage, it was a fun experience namely because Hepburn and Bogart having at it is just cinematic gold. They are clearly perfect foils for each other in this movie. Even when they make up, their fundamental personalities are so different that it’s fun to watch their chemistry unfold against the many physical challenges the plot throws at them — and they certainly get into a lot of intense situations, which I felt were exciting and well-realized.

    However, a note about the plot: there were a couple of instances of contrivance which bugged me, which is always a pet peeve of mine: the sudden rainstorm floating the boat into the lake, and the unexpected explosion from the Queen toward the end just as they are about to be hanged. These are probably minor quibbles, but they smack of cliffhanger adventure serial stuff, which is fine by itself, but sort of stuck out for me. I agree of the goal of blowing up the German boat is more just there in the background for most of the movie, but I didn’t mind since I was fully strung along by the Hepburn-Bogie dynamic.

    In short, it’s an excellent film that effectively mixes character-driven scenes with high adventure, when most films jettison the former in favor of the latter. The film rests on the strength of the two lead performances, and more specifically how they interact, and I think that’s what makes the movie work so well and become so well-regarded.

    And Nate: I hadn’t had that reaction about the pitched-up German voices, but I see what you mean now that you mention it.

    • January 22, 2010 at 12:18 AM

      I just want you to know that your words on both this and Weekend aren’t going unnoticed, I just haven’t been in the right mind to tackle them. It will be done soon, though.

    • January 22, 2010 at 3:03 PM

      I felt the rainstorm was meant to be God helping them, what with the big prayer and the shining light in the sky after it’s over and they’re floating on the lake. Or inferring divine intervention, at least. And apparently, the ending was changed from both endings of the book (one in the American version and one in the British version), so the ending does feel a little weird, especially with how big the lake is.

      I’m always struck by older movies and the differences in values, like the bathing seen since neither of them was nude. How the times change…

      • January 27, 2010 at 1:40 PM

        I guess the divine intervention scene is thematically justified, but it sure makes things easier for the screenwriter when God steps in to resolve plot points. Still, it’s a minor complaint, considering how well-made the film is overall.

        • January 27, 2010 at 11:24 PM

          It’s weird. Situations like that confuse me because I think, “how nice of the writer to give himself that convenient escape,” but then I think, “maybe that’s just good planning during the writing.”

          • January 28, 2010 at 9:59 PM

            They teach Deus Ex Machina as poor screenwriting. I thought that the storm was a bit hokie, but that the African Queen blowing up the German ship was alright.

  4. January 28, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    Placeslost :

    They teach Deus Ex Machina as poor screenwriting. I thought that the storm was a bit hokie, but that the African Queen blowing up the German ship was alright.

    That’s what makes it difficult for me to decide if it works, because it has a perfectly rational explanation in the script. There are many who believe that God’s intervention is perfectly rational, including Hepburn’s character.

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