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The African Queen

Region 2 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan only)

stirring adventure

A Brilliant version of a brilliant film

Bogart at his best

The African Queen - directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn

Charlie makes his living carrying supplies to local villages in East Africa, on a wornout riverboat and is happy with his life. Rose is a prim Englishwoman who is staying in Africa with her preacher brother. When the preacher is murdered by German troops Charlie and Rose are thrown together...

Review

The African Queen, John Huston's 1951 classic set in Africa during World War I, garnered Humphrey Bogart an Oscar for his role as a hard-drinking riverboat captain who provides passage for a Christian missionary spinster (Katharine Hepburn). Taking an instant, mutual dislike to one another, the two endure rough waters, the presence of German soldiers, and their own bickering to fall finally into one another's arms. Based on CS Forester's novel, this is classic Huston material--part adventure, part quest--but this time with a pair of characters who'd all but given up on happiness. Bogart (a long-time collaborator with Huston on such classics as The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo) and Hepburn have never been better, and support from frequent Huston crony Robert Morley adds some extra dimension and colour.

On the DVD: A trailer, a gallery of contemporary posters and stills, plus some text biographies of the principals, simply whet the appetite for the main extra feature here: an audio commentary by veteran cinematographer Jack Cardiff. The man responsible for the lush, albeit studio-bound jungle textures of Black Narcissus faced innumerable challenges lighting real Borneo jungle in the heart of the Congo for Huston's ambitious project, and here he relates all the behind-the-scenes anecdotes of disease, infestation and disaster that plagued the production. It's a real treat to hear one of the last survivors of the Golden Age filmmaking happily reminiscing about one of cinema's classic pictures, talking companionably of Huston, Bogie and Katie Hepburn and what everyone--cast and crew alike--endured to finish the picture, from lepers carrying their gear to the location, Huston fishing while directing, hornets stinging the crew, to terrible sickness brought on by drinking unfiltered lake water (except Bogie and Huston, who stuck religiously to the whisky!). The movie itself, in its original 1.33:1 ratio, looks just fine, and the sound is an unfussy digitally remastered mono.

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