Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley
Director: John Huston
Running Time: 105 mins
The African Queen is an American film about a Canadian tugboat captain who takes on a British woman working as a missionary in German East Africa at the beginning of World War One, and she persuades him to use his own boat to attack a German ship blocking their exit from a long, winding river through the jungle.
This is an amazing film! It’s one of the most simplistically entertaining films I’ve seen in a long while, full of action, drama, comedy and romance that all fit perfectly into this wonderful story. What’s more, there’s some incredible on-screen chemistry and two stunning performances from legends Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, and their characters’ changing relationship is what makes this film so entertaining.
The film starts off relatively heavily in setting up the context of the German military presence in Africa during WWI, and although it may be a bit of a brutal start, it’s hugely attention-grabbing, and it sets a perfect backdrop to this adventure/romance to make it all the more exciting to watch.
Once Bogart and Hepburn are on the boat, though, the way this film’s story develops is second to none. From this point, three very different, but massively entertaining, plots come about, and the main one of them is the blossoming romance between the two main characters.
Firstly, those two characters are so well brought across in this film, because they’re hugely likeable, only annoying when they have to be, and have got two great actors behind them to make it all the more convincing. Their relationship starts off rocky, which is probably the funniest part of the film, because you get to see the two constantly at each other’s throats, however they then fall (very believably) in love, and although it seems a little cheesy at first, Bogart and Hepburn’s chemistry makes it so real and enjoyable to watch unfold.
However, this film isn’t all about the romance, there’s a great adventure to be had too! About half the film was shot on location in Africa, and it’s set against some stunning backdrops, which are as dazzling to see as the brilliant performances. The adventure story is fast-paced as it is beautiful, and it genuinely transports you to this far away land, which, although not magical or hugely pleasant in any way, still seems to be full of excitement.
Finally, there’s the most exciting aspect to the story, the battle against the Germans. Of course, these two don’t do full hand-to-hand combat with the Germans, but the two sides get pretty close at some points, and to see this small tugboat and its two passengers taking on an imperial army is just so exciting to watch.
Overall, this gets an 8.9, because it’s a funny, romantic, dramatic, exciting, captivating, well-acted and overall massively entertaining film.