"The African Queen" Blu-ray Movie Review

3/17/2010 Posted by Admin

"The African Queen" Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by John Huston, Written by Huston and James Agee, 105 Minutes, Not Rated

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"The African Queen" has long been considered an absolute Hollywood classic. Filmed on location in Africa before such a thing was common, "The African Queen" earned Humphrey Bogart his first and only Academy Award and also earned director John Huston an Oscar nomination. So, it's an easily recognized classic--but it isn't really a particularly outstanding film.

The story begins in a small African village circa-World War I. Samuel and Rose Sayer (Robert Morley and Katharine Hepburn) are siblings that run a Christian missionary that is destroyed when German soldiers come through, kidnap the villagers and burn their homes to the ground. Samuel dies in the process and Rose is left alone. It's not long before their mail deliverer, Canadian boat captain Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), comes past the village on his boat the African Queen and offers to take Rose with him. Charlie tells Rose about a German Navy vessel stationed in a lake down river and Rose comes up with an idea to brave the rough waters and take the German ship down themselves, fashioning makeshift torpedoes along the way.

It's a simple story told fairly well, but it doesn't make for particularly great entertainment. Bogart, stepping away a bit from his typical detective persona for this role, gives a decent performance for the most part, but on occasion, he can be pretty obnoxious. That's not saying anything about Hepburn, who squeals her way through most of the film. Together, they make an unbelievably unlikable pair, and when these are pretty much the only two characters we see through the whole film, it can get pretty tiresome.

Another rather aggravating aspect of the film is its misguided attempts at comic relief. Not that the film isn't occasionally amusing, but the balance of tone isn't maintained well at all--one minute the characters will be goofing around while the next, they'll be navigating crocodile-infested waters and screaming at each other. One scene where Bogart attempts to imitate a hippo was particularly painful. None of this is helped by the insanely overbearing score.

I don't want to sound overly harsh. "The African Queen" is a good film. Bogart has a great deal of charm in his best scenes--it's not a powerful performance by any means, and the film doesn't require it to be--but he's enjoyable, if not necessarily Oscar-worthy compared to some of his other performances. The film is entertaining most of the time--it just has some problems here and there.

The best part of the film is probably how genuine it feels--because it was filmed in Africa, we get a complete sense of the elements the characters have to endure, and as they become overwhelmed by the power of nature, so do we. The film definitely works more as a straightforward adventure than a drama or romance, and when it realizes this, it's at its best. Huston and Bogart have definitely had better collaborations, but "The African Queen" is fun fluff nonetheless.

Grade: C+

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes