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The African Queen (1952)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 32,108

My Rating

Movie Info

After years of wooing director John Huston via good reviews, film critic James Agee was given a chance to write the screenplay for a Huston picture. Adapted from a novel by C.S. Forester, The African Queen stars Humphrey Bogart in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Charlie Allnut, the slovenly, gin-swilling captain of a tramp steamer called the African Queen, which ships supplies to small East African villages during World War I. Katharine Hepburn plays Rose Sayer, the maiden-lady sister of a prim

PG,

Drama, Action & Adventure, Romance, Classics

C.S. Forester, James Agee

Jul 9, 2004

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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All Critics (37) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (37) | Rotten (0) | DVD (13)

Five minutes in, and cowriter-director John Huston has already set the stage for something besides your typical '50s jungle-bwana boogie.

February 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is a picture with an unassuming warmth and naturalness...

June 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The direction is often questionable, but the screenplay (by James Agee, John Collier, Huston, and Peter Viertel from C.S. Forester's novel) is a model of tight construction.

June 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Impossible to deny this film's entertainment value...

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

And so Mr. Huston merits credit for putting this fantastic tale on a level of sly, polite kidding and generally keeping it there, while going about the happy business of engineering excitement and visual thrills.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A ripping, gripping yarn, a surprisingly erotic love story and, as it happens, a premonition of Herzog's Fitzcarraldo.

March 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

[A] grand, propulsive and plumly-restored slice of Technicolor derring-do.

March 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

What an inspired pairing! And to think the roles of Charlie Allnutt and Rose Sayer were nearly played by David Niven and Bette Davis.

March 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times | Comment (1)
Radio Times

It's probably cameraman Jack Cardiff who deserves kudos for turning this odd-couple romance into such a colourful escapade through east Africa.

February 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Huston understands the majestic savagery of his surroundings well enough to let it exert some dramatic pressure on what is primarily a buoyant romantic comedy.

February 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

The performances by Humphrey Bogart (who earned his lone Oscar for his troubles) and Katharine Hepburn, along with John Huston's astute direction has produced a high spirited and highly entertaining adventure movie.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

As a paradigm of why certain actors and filmmakers remain revered several decades after their death or greatest success, The African Queen is more than merely exemplary.

March 25, 2010 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

These are not "pretty" characters, but they are beautiful and their affair is a natural force outside of society and the church.

March 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Seanax.com
Seanax.com

A more unorthodox adventure story and a more unconventional romantic comedy you couldn't imagine.

March 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

...one of those films that have been so assimilated into the collective unconscious that they feel ubiquitous,to the point that even those who have never seen it probably feel as though they have.

March 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Bogart and Hepburn are truly amazing together.

April 26, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Huston's romantic adventure, one of the most admired movies in American history, contains iconic performances by Bogart, in his only Oscar-winning role, and Katharine Hepburn.

February 19, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

One of the very best, both for Bogart and Hepburn.

March 3, 2005
Flipside Movie Emporium

Grand adventure, but something more complicated, too.

July 8, 2004

A much ballyhooed film that has been overrated as a classic.

January 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Bogie and Hepburn, a dynamic duo! A love story, adventure story and comedy, all rolled into one rollicking and perilous river ride. You never get tired watching it.

September 11, 2003
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

Audience Reviews for The African Queen

The prim sister of a missionary who is killed when the German army come to their small corner of Africa convinces a pragmatic boat's captain to help her sink the German's nearby destroyer. The story is a simple one, but this film is all about the characters, who are wonderfully written and perfectly played by two of the very best actors who ever graced the silver screen. Hepburn and Bogart bring a tangible sense of warmth and affection as their feelings grow for each other, Bogie displaying his rarely seen but keen sense for comedy. The visual effects have obviously dated rather badly, but it has more depth and romance than a hundred Hugh Grant or Andie McDowell films. Another classic from John Huston.
April 9, 2014
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

I'm conflicted with this one. This shouldn't be the case. It's Huston, Bogart, and Hepburn...in a period piece romantic action comedy. This should be a stone could classic that I'm in love with.

Instead, I'm pleased by it, but also stunned at how not excellent this actually is. Set in German occupied Africa during World War I, the plot concerns a crusty, boozy river trader of a tramp steamer called The African Queen who agrees to take a zealous missionary back to civilization after German officers raid the village she and her brother were working in, burning it to the ground and leaving her as the sole survivor. Along the way, this odd couple have to contend with nature, the war, and one another, but eventually they do bond as you might expect...maybe.

The set up is great, but the execution is what left me underwhelmed and a little disappointed. The leads are likeable (as actors), but their characters and performances are kinda blah and overdone. Had their been more weight to the script, and the characters been more darker and edgier, then this could have really had some bite to it. Maybe this is a film that truly does deserve a contemporary update. Also, some more dealing with the historical context of the setting woiuld have been great too. At least is was shot on location, which was a rare thing in those days.

The setting and location shooting are great, the cinematography is decnt, but I kidna wishd this was in black and white...it would have added some needed grit to the proceedings.

I didn't hate this, but it really came off as silly, which is an adjective that doesn't need to be used ot describe a project involving the cast and crew here. It's decent, but not as exciting and awesome as it truly could have been.
April 30, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The circumstances around the making of this film are almost as good of a story as the movie itself, being one of the first independent films to truly succeed, and to feature "old" people, (Bogart and Hepburn, both seeking to reclaim their careers in the wake of the McCarthy era). The African Queen uses a deceptively simple plot about taking a decrepit old tub up the river and out of a war zone to tell its actual story: that of an unlikely romance between the grizzled Canadian ex-pat, Charlie, and the prim and proper missionary, Rose. Given that the action takes place at the beginning of the First World War, the potential for tragedy is high, but as explained in the DVD's special features, the ending was rewritten three times, the last one when Huston finally realized that despite the novel it's based on, the film he had made was a comedy. As Scorsese comments, "You can really only edit what you have," and what came through on the film was a genuine chemistry between two talented leads, which makes for a wonderful film. It's a bit talky by today's standards, and the technology's far from seamless in a lot of scenes, but it's an unassailable classic, and it should definitely be on your bucket list.
April 25, 2012
danperry17

Super Reviewer

A boat captain and a missionary must evade Nazis and nature on their way down an African river.
The highlight of this film is Humphrey Bogart's performance. In an industry in which actors too often get cast as and play themselves, Bogart's performance is a departure from his normal character. He laughs like a hyena, and imitates other animals; in a phrase, he's "not cool" - the definition of cool that he exemplified in Casablanca.
I've always found Katharine Hepburn annoying, and while her fans will find plenty to like about her work here, I continue to cringe every time I hear her voice. Her character is often a bitch, and she plays this part well.
Stuck on a boat, battling bugs and rapids, the film's characters must hold our attention, and by and large, they do so.
Overall, The African Queen is canonical for a reason, but for me that reason is solely Bogart, deservedly a screen legend.
April 8, 2012
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Charlie Allnut: Oh, I'm not worried miss. Gave myself up for dead back where we started.
    – Submitted by Rick W (14 months ago)
    1. Charlie Allnut: You can't do that!
    2. Rose Sayer: How do you know? You never tried it.
    3. Charlie Allnut: Well yeah, but I never tried shooting myself in the head neither.
    – Submitted by Andrew C (19 months ago)
    1. Charlie Allnut: Well I ain't sorry for you no more, ya crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old made!
    – Submitted by Andrew C (19 months ago)
    1. Charlie Allnut: Leeches ahhhh!
    – Submitted by Roger M (2 years ago)
    1. Rose Sayer: "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put into this world to rise above.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Charlie Allnut: A man takes a drop too much once in a while, it's only human nature.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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Foreign Titles

  • The African Queen (1951) (DE)
  • The African Queen (1951) (CA)
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