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Wick's Review

Created May 11, 2008 11:10PM PST • Edited Dec 29, 2019 07:55PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Grownup romances don’t get better than this, with Bogie and the Great Kate as middle-aged fogies surmounting countless obstacles on their way to love and glory. Long celebrated as one of the all-time greats, The African Queen is less well known than Casablanca, a pity because this unique movie focuses not on the young but on a seemingly over-the-hill couple who bond over the course of incredible adventure.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Bogie received his only Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Charlie Allnut, the evocatively named jack-of-all-trades and African Queen proprietor. While a bit stagy by modern standards, his performance is tremendous: playful, charming, touching, vulnerable, honorable and brave.

    Katherine Hepburn was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as Rose Sayer, the spinster who is supremely faithful and intelligently willful in equal measures. Stuck in a small boat for nearly the entire movie, this greatest of movie queens delivers a performance for the ages in concert with Bogie’s “Mr. Allnut,” together creating a movie acting duet par excellence.

    It is all the more affecting because of how old they were at the time: Bogie in his early 50s, Hepburn in her 40s. In his case, there were only five years left before throat cancer would take this lifelong smoker’s life. He had only one great role after this (The Caine Mutiny). She had many more, but The African Queen marked the first time she played a middle-aged spinster. In short, this wasn’t two kids frolicking, it was two adults seizing the day.

  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Great 4.0

    The dated production values don’t diminish the power of the story, the craftiness of the dialogue, and the graceful direction.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0

    John Huston, a titan amongst mid-century Hollywood directors, received an Oscar nomination for his direction (and screenplay) of The African Queen. No wonder, as he ably sets up both conflicts and resolutions, then later brings them home with effortless grace. The result is a surprisingly engaging film that spends most of its running time focused on two middle-aged people in a put-put riverboat.

  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    An understated magnificence suffuses the entire script, complete with moments of wry humor and real emotion.

    As to the former, consider what the German officer says after marrying the noose-wearing couple: “By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution.”

    As to the latter, consider how Hepburn reacts when she finally learns the first name of the man she’s come to love: “Dear, what is your first name?” “Charlie” “Charlie. That’s a nice name, Charlie. Charlie!” This reads flat and silly, but it positively radiates emotion when played by the great Bogart and Hepburn.

  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Good 3.0

    The action in the boat is more than a bit phony by modern standards, clearly having been shot on a soundstage. Oh well, it still plays great.

  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.1
  15. Sex Innocent 1.0

    Positively chaste by modern standards. The lovebirds spend days in the boat, but all we see them do is kiss.

  16. Violence Gentle 1.4
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.0
  18. Glib 1.5
  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.8

    They were so formal with each other, yet there would be little opportunity for privacy in such a small boat, if you catch my drift…

  20. Biological Glib 1.7

    Amazing that people back then never wore sunscreen…

  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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