The African Queen

1951 | Drama | 105 minutes | English


Samuel Sayer and his sister Rose are British Methodist missionaries in the village of Kungdu in German-controlled East Africa. Their mail and supplies are delivered by a broken-down steamer named “The African Queen” that’s manned by a gin-swilling Canadian Charlie Allnut. World War I breaks out and German troops burn down the village and kill the protesting Samuel Sayer. Charlie buries Samuel and convinces Rose to escape with him on the African Queen. Charlie mentions to Rose that the British cannot attack because of the presence of a German gunboat on the lake. Rose suggests they equip the African Queen with a torpedo  and sink the German gunboat. A drunken Charlie reluctantly agrees knowing that navigating the Ulanga River to reach the lake is hazardous as it’s filled with dangerous rapids and guarded by German outposts. The constantly bickering couple make it to the lake, but a storm capsizes the African Queen. Charlie and Rose are captured by the Germans and are to be hanged as spies. Before the hanging takes place, Charlie implores the captain, as a last request, to have him  marry them. He does, and Charlie and Rose are now a newly-married couple. Meanwhile, the torpedo that was attached to the African Queen has reached the German gunboat and, with a huge explosion, totally destroys it. Charlie and Rose survive. Mission accomplished!  

Humphrey Bogart (Charlie Allnut) / Katharine Hepburn (Rose Sayer) / 
Robert Morley (Samuel Sayer) / Peter Bull (Captain of the German Gunboat)
Why Stream This Film?
The fact that this film adventure was filmed on location in Uganda and the Congo in Africa,  especially for a Technicolor picture that required unwieldy cameras was absolutely courageous. Throw in a director like John Huston, superb performances by Bogart and Hepburn, a literate screenplay by James Agee,  and magnificent cinematography by Jack Cardiff, and you end up with a monumentally exciting film experience. That’s The African Queen.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 98%
  • Metacritic Score: 91
  • 75th Venice Film Festival, Winner, Golden Lion
  • Ten Academy Award Nominations. Winner: Best Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Best Cinematographer (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Festivals: Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York
  • Best Film of 2018: Time Magazine and The New York Film Critics Circle
This story of adventure and romance, experienced by a couple in Africa just as World War I got underway, is an engrossing motion picture. Just offbeat enough in story, locale, and star-teaming of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn to stimulate the imagination. It is a picture with an unassuming warmth and naturalness.
William Brogdon


John Huston’s THE AFRICAN QUEEN is a film that has everything—adventure, humor, spectacular photography and superb performances. THE AFRICAN QUEEN‘s marvelous screenplay was written as a straight drama by James Agee, but director John Huston and his stars give it a lyrical tongue-in-cheek treatment that fills the screen with hilarious humanity. Magnificently filmed on location in Africa by Jack Cardiff. THE AFRICAN QUEEN is Hollywood filmmaking of the highest order.

TV GUIDE staff

THE AFRICAN QUEEN is a ripping, gripping yarn, a surprisingly erotic love story. The courage and lip-quivering vulnerability of Hepburn are tremendous.
Peter Bradshaw

The Guardian

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