“I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating!”1951 - Dir: John Huston
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 29th November, 2008
The African Queen is the uncomplicated tale of two companions with mismatched, "opposites attract" personalities who develop an implausible love affair as they travel together downriver in Africa around the start of World War I. This quixotic film by director John Huston, based on the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester, is one of the classics of Hollywood adventure filmmaking, with comedy and romance besides. It was the first colour film for the two leads and for director Huston.
The acting of the two principal actors - Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn - is some of the strongest ever registered on film, although this was their first and only pairing together. This was 44 year-old Hepburn's first screen appearance as a spinster, and marked her transition to more mature roles for the rest of her career. At 52 years of age, Bogart was also past his prime as a handsome, hard-boiled detective. John Mills, David Niven, and Bette Davis were, at one time, considered for the lead roles. Romulus Films took the almost unheard of risk of filming on location in central Africa
· Contemporary articles detail the various perils of shooting on location in Africa, including dysentery, malaria, bacteria-filled drinking water and several close brushes with wild animals and poisonous snakes. Most of the cast and crew were sick for much of the filming.
· To show her disgust with the amount of alcohol that Huston and Bogart consumed during the shoot, Hepburn drank only water - and suffered a severe bout of dysentery as a result. Bogart later said, "All I ate was baked beans, canned asparagus and Scotch whiskey. Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead."
· Scenes in the water were filmed in a tank at Isleworth Studios for “health reasons”.
· John Huston’s next project was “Moulin Rouge” starring Jose Ferrer and Zsa-Zsa Gabor - a very different film to that shown here last month!