Movie Review: The African Queen

I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen this movie and it never disappoints. This 1951 adventure film has it all: a great cast, excellent writing, romance, adventure, and humor. For those of you who have been living under a rock, here’s the blurb from IMDb

In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

Let’s talk about Bogart and Hepburn. Seriously folks can you picture any other actors in these roles? Talk about nailing it. To my knowledge they’ve never remade this film and I sincerely hope that they never do. Bogart won an Academy Award for his performance and it was the only Oscar he ever received during his career—that’s kinda shocking to me. Hepburn was nominated, but didn’t win. Vivien Leigh won Best Actress that year for A Streetcar Named Desire, a movie I haven’t seen. I must now, considering Leigh beat Hepburn.

I would love to learn more about the filming of The African Queen. The DVD that I watched had a brief documentary on it and from what I saw it wasn’t easy filming this flick since they shot a lot of the scenes in Africa.

What I love most about this film is that it reminds me of my grandparents. Growing up, I didn’t live near them. But we visited every summer. During our visits we’d usually watch old films and this one was a favorite. Each time I watch it, it makes me think of them and I have this odd feeling that they are closer to me. Or maybe I just want to believe that. Either way, it’s a good feeling.

Now The Better Half was away on business when I watched this film. However, Miles and Att watched it with me. Poor Miles was so tired the night I popped it in. He tried so hard to stay awake.

Att was inspired by this film and the next day he tried to bust out of the back garden.

Just in case you’re wondering, Atticus wasn’t successful breaking out. Thank goodness.

The next movie on the list is Network—uh, I haven’t heard of it. Have you?

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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99 Responses to Movie Review: The African Queen

  1. Ok, I can hear your gasp of shock, but I have never seen that movie. I know – shame on me!

  2. Network: Faye Dunaway – Peter Finch: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

  3. It predicted our present quite well in some ways. Will you enjoy? H’mmmm. It is a love it or hate it movie.

  4. LOVE the pet pictures! What a cutie Miles is. And so glad Att didn’t break out. I haven’t seen the African Queen since I was a kid watching it with my father. It was one of his favorites.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • TBM says:

      Miles has me wrapped around his little paw. And Att, really wants out of the garden, but with his health issues, we worry. It’s a classic. How’s the memoir coming along?

  5. explosiveniche says:

    I like your dog pictures

  6. niasunset says:

    Oh dear TBM, I am glad Att wasn’t successful, they are both so adorable and so love, Blessing and happiness for you all. Do you know, I haven’t watched this film, but I know one this, I should watch alone 🙂 not with my Princess. Thank you, love, nia

  7. Beth Ann says:

    I watched that movie a couple of times with my dad but not since then so maybe it would be different as an adult? Miles looked so dapper in his little sweater! All fit for a movie viewing. Good thing you have that fence so Atticus did not escape. My cats would not know what to do outside. I had the door open to the deck to take a pic of the snow and Buddy was at the threshold sneezing at the snow. 🙂

  8. vinnieh says:

    Great post, it really is an amazing classic adventure movie.

  9. Letizia says:

    This is a movie we owned on video when I was a child so I’ve seen it a million times too. Some great scenes, I can see why Atticus would be inspired! If memory serves me right, Hepburn wrote a book about her account filming it (On filming The African Queen – or something like that).

    • TBM says:

      I’ve heard of the book. Now I need to get my hands on a copy. I enjoyed her memoir, but don’t remember if she talked about this movie.

  10. Hated Network and will have to climb out from under the rock Cindy is under and watch Out of Africa–you have made it compelling and I love Hepburn

  11. bulldog says:

    Saw that movie a million years ago… cant remember it … Network sound familiar… all about a TV network can’t say I remember it well but do remember seeing it…

  12. wonderful movies…you are watching!…makes me want to see them again!…
    a CLASSIC is always a CLASSIC!
    Love the antics of your Miles and Atticus!

  13. Melissa says:

    African Queen is a wonderful movie, you’re right what a cast! I am a big Hepburn fan and I have slowly come around to Bogart over the last few years (African Queen helped). I watched a making of on it too, it might be the same one. They mentioned how hard it was to film and that everyone but Houston and Bogart had dysentery (they were safe because they only drank alcohol). I remember more being said about the movie on Hepburn’s A&E Biography.
    I like Network, but it is a difficult film. I watched it a few years back right before the occupy movement began. I’m curious to find out what you think of it.
    P.S. Loving Miles’ ensemble-very dapper. 😉

    • TBM says:

      I remember that bit about they dysentery and alcohol–mental note, only drink booze when there. Dysentery doesn’t sound fun. Not one bit.

      Thanks. Miles hates that sweater, but he freezes without it. It’s not my fault he doesn’t have any hair. You should see the look he gives me when I pull it out. He rather stand there and shiver.

  14. african queen is a treasure! streetcar named desire is hard to watch for me. these 2 movies are opposite in tone, imo. i look forward to you reflections on streetcar.

    pets have a way of making sure their worlds revolve around them, as they should 🙂

  15. zannyro says:

    Network freaked me out….way back when, it was really disturbing to think such a thing could happen…now…

  16. Let’s hope no one ever tries to remake it. Having said that I always thought that ‘Rooster Cogburn’ got quite close and Hepburn did seem to reprise the character of Rose to play alongside John Wayne.

  17. Caroline says:

    Those photos of Miles are so funny.
    When I watched and reviewed this on my blog someone told me that Katherine Hepburn had written a book about the movie and I ordered it right away. Now I should maybe also read it. I’ve only seen it once but really loved it. I think it’s one of my favourites with her.

    • TBM says:

      Miles keeps me smiling. And he really is the sweetest dog.

      It’s hard to pick my favorite Hepburn movie. I may be able to narrow it down to five or six. This would be on my short list for sure. Let me know if you read her book.

  18. I love your reviews because they inspire to rewatch films I haven’t seen for years (like this one) and to see ones that are new to me 🙂

    • TBM says:

      Thanks for the kind compliment. Enjoy this one. It’s wonderful. I’ll send Miles over to watch it with you. He’s a great snuggler.

  19. I can’t believe I have yet to sit down and watch this! AAARRRGGGG

  20. “We can’t do that!” “How do you know? You never tried it.” “Well, yeah, but I never tried shooting myself in the head neither.” Bogart and Hepburn had great chemistry in this movie. If you want to stay on the classic movies set in Africa theme, there’s also “Out of Africa.” Have you seen it?

    • TBM says:

      I haven’t seen “Out of Africa.” Shame on me. And I think the book is on my 1001 list so I’m hoping I read it and then watch the movie. Probably should get on that soon.

      I love the chemistry between Bogie and Hepburn–they nailed their roles.

  21. “The African Queen” is a John Huston classic. The screenplay was adapted from a novel by C.S. Lewis that Huston co-wrote with James Agee and two guys that were uncredited onscreen. Do you have any books by Agee or Lewis on your reading list?

    I have not seen “Network” since its initial released in 1976 when I was a senior in high school. I saw it on a date with a girl I was seeing that bore a more than passing resemblance to Mr. Ed. I recall that we were shouting our head’s off like the Howard Beale character for days on end (see Robert S. Johnson’s quote in his comment). That rant certainly summed up how I felt about high school. Paddy Chayefsky won the Academy Award for the screenplay. It was a very thought provoking film; one it might behoove me to see again. I think there’s probably a lot about it that remains relevant.

    • TBM says:

      I’m not sure if Lewis or Agee are on my reading list. Will have to take a peek.

      Interesting choice for a date movie 😉 And Mr. Ed–it’s been a long time since I’ve seen an episode of that show. Oh I hated high school. And to make matters worse I had to move to a different state when I was in high school. That was not fun. I’ll let you know soon about Network: will I like it or not?

      • Time will tell what you think of Network. Milton thinks it’s worth seeing again. He doesn’t dole out bum advice. I would like to see it again because often, films that I loved in my youth do not rock my world in middle age.

        One I first saw at a far too young age, primarily for the sex and nudity, was Last Tango in Paris. When I saw it again after age 40, did it resonate! Is that one on your list? Did you already see On the Waterfront? If not, is that on your list? If it is, see that one first and then see Last Tango. Marlon Brando’s Paul in Last Tango could be Terry Malloy twenty years later. Those two films also showcase his brilliance as an actor.

        A film I loved both in my youth and to this day is Gilda, a film noir that’s a study in chemistry and fierce sexual frustration starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. Also, there is quite a gay subtext with the Ballin character. Is Gilda on your list?

      • TBM says:

        Not sure about Last Tango, but I’m pretty sure ON the Waterfront is on the list. I think it’s in the top 20 so I have some time before I see it. But I’ll add Last Tango to my rental list. I’m not sure I’ve heard of it.

        Dude, I haven’t seen Gilda! Adding that one for sure! It’s not on the list though.

        Let me know what you think of Network if you watch it again.

  22. IsobelandCat says:

    Oh my, it’s years since I saw this film. Maybe I should rejoin the BFI.
    I think you’ll enjoy Network.
    Sounds like Att is settling well in his new home.

    • TBM says:

      Att really likes having his own garden. Yesterday he was unhappy about all the rain. It’ll be nice this summer when all of us can spend more time out there.

  23. StillWalks says:

    Och now, you’re picking all the best stuff 😉 Great film!

  24. StillWalks says:

    PS love the photos too 🙂

  25. Carol says:

    I always thought I had seen The Africa Queen, but now, after reading what you had to say, I’m not sure. I may have to just watch it again.

  26. Pogue says:

    I loved the movie African Queen, but I have to tell you the book is 900 times better. It is the same story, in the movie for time they had to edit out for time.

    • TBM says:

      I haven’t read the book yet, but more often than not, I prefer the book. It will be hard to beat my sentimental ties to the film though.

  27. HOW do you manage to keep a cat contained in your back garden? How?!

  28. The Guat says:

    Love those dog pics! And you know I don’t know what to tell you … I might lose some points with you if I do, but I have never seen The African Queen. I know, I know, but I have seen A Street Car Named Desire. It was pretty awesome, although I read the play too so I was in deep. But after your review I may just have to rent it and get out under from this rock 🙂

    • TBM says:

      How big is this rock 😉 You could never lose points since I don’t work that way. But I may keep encouraging you to see the movie. And now I feel like I must watch Streetcar.

  29. Watched this years ago and thought it was wonderful. Very surprised Bogart only won one Oscar. Kate deserved one too, but Vivien Leigh is amaaaazing in Streetcar Named Desire. Not a happy movie, that one. Have a stiff drink before you start the film.
    Network was groundbreaking at the time. I think Peter Finch won Best Actor?

    • TBM says:

      So a gin and tonic, heavy on the gin for Streetcar. Got it and will do. That’s why I’ve always avoided it since I knew it would be intense.

      Seriously, only one Oscar for Bogie. I know Hepburn won four or was she just nominated for four. Now I can’t remember. I forget more than I remember these days.

  30. Rose Puddy says:

    Every Christmas Day after lunch, I watch “The African Queen”. In our family it has become “Mums tradition”.

    It is my all time favourite movie. There were a few years where the family insisted its place had to be taken by “Shrek”. Nothing wrong with Shrek, it is entertaining and funny, but for me Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this classic.

    Hepburn and Bogart are in almost every scene, perfect. I can get carried away in my enthusiasm for this movie.

    • TBM says:

      To me that sounds like a great tradition. Like you,I think Shrek is entertaining. But it just can’t compete with The African Queen. I’m on your side completely.

  31. Rorybore says:

    Fantastic movie. Just…. gah! I could go on all night. Hepburn proves why she should STILL be considered the Best Ever. Just love these two in these roles. Now I have to check Netflix because it has been years since I watched it.

    Network?? Hmmm, I think that’s the movie with the famous “I’m mad as hell….!!” speech in it. If it has Faye Dunaway — then it is the one I am thinking of. I watched it way back in university, so I don’t remember much else.

    • TBM says:

      It was hard writing this review since I just wanted to gush the entire time and I’m not sure I’ve met someone who hates the film. And yep, Dunaway is in the film Network so you’re thinking of the right one.

  32. samokan says:

    Shame on me , a Hepburn movie that I did not know. I have to watch it, I would like to say NOW but am still at work 🙂

  33. Pingback: Weekly Travel Photo Collection | 50 Year Project

  34. Definitely a classic, and one of my faves. Thank you!
    Now I’ve got to see it again!

  35. Novroz says:

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, not much of a classic movie watcher…but I love how you connect it to Att and Miles.
    Att has wonderful fur…fortunately he didn’t break away.

  36. Miles is so handsome in his sweater, I thought he was giving his Blue Steel look for the camera, but then you weren’t watching Zoolander, were you? 🙂

    Glad Att wasn’t able to break out of the backyard. He certainly did seem intent on getting out of there. Maybe he wasn’t impressed with The African Queen. I do love that film, though it’s been years since I’ve seen it so I don’t remember too much about it. Time for a refresher!

  37. Vishy says:

    Nice review, TBM! It was nice to read about how the movie made you think of your grandparents. I loved ‘The African Queen’ when I watched it the first time. I think, surprisingly, it was my first Katharine Hepburn movie. I think it was also the first time I have watched Humphrey Bogart in a colour movie. Now, after reading your review, I want to watch it again 🙂

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