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The African Queen (1952)

Katharine Hepburn , Humphrey Bogart , John Huston  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (662 customer reviews)

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The African Queen The African Queen 4.6 out of 5 stars (662)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Theodore Bikel
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Writers: John Huston, James Agee, C.S. Forester
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Restored, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 23, 2010
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (662 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002TOL4QO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,790 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The African Queen" on IMDb

Special Features

Embracing chaos: Making The African Queen

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

John Huston made better, more powerful films than The African Queen, but none so universally beloved, on first appearance and over the decades since. In this adaptation of the C.S. Forester novel, Humphrey Bogart (who would win the best-actor Oscar®) and Katharine Hepburn costar as an unlikely pair thrown together in German East Africa during the First World War. He's the gin-soaked skipper of what we might call the title character, a none-too-reliable steam launch chugging along the backwaters of the "Dark Continent." Hepburn's a straitlaced Methodist missionary who, following the demise of her bachelor brother (Robert Morley) and the burning of their village by Kaiser Wilhelm's troops, determines that the Queen should be used to attack the Königin Luise, a large German gunboat patrolling a lake downriver. It's an absurd proposition. Then again, John Huston and the absurd were always on familiar terms.

It wasn't until he got to the Congo that the director realized what a funny picture The African Queen was going to be, thanks to the odd coupling of Bogie and Kate: "One brought out a vein of humor in the other, and this comic sense, which had been missing from the book and screenplay, grew out of our day-to-day shooting." Within the gunwales of a not-very-large boat, Huston managed to devise myriad ways to keep his two leading characters on separate visual planes even as circumstance and tender emotional urgency conspired to push them together. This was Huston's first feature film in Technicolor, and the peerless Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes) was there to shoot it. Unfortunately, neither of them could do anything about the process-screen technology needed for, and glaringly inadequate to, the sequence of Bogart and Hepburn shooting the rapids--just about the only lapse in an enchanting fairy tale for adults. The script is credited to Huston and James Agee; the uncredited Peter Viertel, summoned to the African locations to write some additional material, would later fictionalize the experience as White Hunter, Black Heart, a savage roman à clef. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

At the start of World War 1, German imperial troops burn down Reverend Samuel Sayer’s mission in Africa. He is overtaken with disappointment and passes away. Shortly after his well-educated, snooty sister Rose Sayer (Hepburn) buries her brother, she must leave on the only available transport, a tired river steamboat The African Queen manned by the ill-mannered bachelor, Charlie Allnut (Bogart). Together they embark on a long difficult journey, without any comfort. Rose grows determined to assist in the British war effort and presses Charlie until he finally agrees and together they steam up the Ulana encountering an enemy fort, raging rapids, bloodthirsty parasites and endlessly branching stream which always seem to lead them to what appear to be impenetrable swamps. Despite opposing personalities, the two grow closer to each other and ultimately carry out their plan to take out a German warship.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
383 of 445 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars some helpful info about this release February 1, 2007
I'll spare the review of the movie itself. If you're reading this, you probably already know this movie is an absolute classic.

There's been some confusion about this release, so let me clear things up.

Because of some of the things I read, I waited for a long time before finally ordering one of these for myself. Now I see there was no reason to hesitate.

This is a "just fine" print of the movie. There's nothing "wrong" with the picture or sound--aside from simply being a dated production that has not been "remastered" in any way.

It's basically the same thing you would get if you carefully dubbed a very good copy of the VHS tape to DVD (which may actually be what they did!).

The picture and sound are basically as good as what you would have seen on your TV set back when this was first broadcast on network television. In other words, there are no "flaws" that would in any way distract from the enjoyment of the drama.

Contrary to what another reviewer reported: Yes, the Chinese subtitles are on by default--BUT THEY CAN BE TURNED OFF. It's easy to do.

Someone was wishing that this release was "wide screen." Sorry, but this would be IMPOSSIBLE. The movie was ORIGINALLY FILMED IN 4:3 RATIO. ("Wide screen" ratios did not exist until a few years after this movie was made.)

I'd gladly give this title SIX STARS! But since I'm reviewing the technical merits of THIS SPECIFIC DVD RELEASE (rather than the artistic merits of the movie itself) I gave it four.

Is this version a Chinese bootleg? I suppose it's possible. These are put out by a small company in Hong Kong. But I took a chance, because unfortunately, it's the only REGION-1 version of this movie on DVD right now.
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175 of 203 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most unique classics in Hollywood history February 8, 2004
Format:DVD
Familiarity can sometimes numb us to how very odd a movie is, and that is certainly the case with THE AFRICAN QUEEN. Most polls that have been done in recent years typically denote Humphrey Bogart as the greatest movie star of all time, and frequently Katherine Hepburn gets the number two slot (and always gets the number one slot for women). Yet, these roles are almost antithetical to everything else they ever did. Bogart, the great man of action of CASABLANCA and THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP, is reduced to a dirty, disheveled, lewd, drunken captain of a remarkably inconsequential boat with the profoundly self-mocking name of "The African Queen." Hepburn, who has made her career playing unbridled, liberated, and self-assertive modern women, here is a prudish (though only for a while), repressed, tightly wound spinster. But despite this highly unusual pairing, the film was one of the finest that either was ever in, netting Bogart his only Oscar (and unbelievably, only one of three nominations) and Hepburn what was something like her 200th Oscar nomination. It seems perverse that the only other two nominations were for Best Director (Huston) and screenplay (the great James Agee and Huston). I'm not sure how a film can get nominations for four of the top five awards and not get nominated for Best Picture, but it did (the five films nominated that year were the deserving AN AMERICAN IN PARIS [the winner], the somewhat censored A STREET CAR NAMED DESIRE, A PLACE IN THE SUN [which has not aged well], and the considerably less deserving QUO VADIS and DECISION BEFORE DAWN).
Today we take filming on location for granted, but in the 1940s and 1950s, few producers and directors opted for filming on the spot upon which the film was supposed to take place.
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92 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Very Best May 15, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Bogart and Hepburn play two diametrically opposed personalities in this classic film set during World War I. She is a prim and proper, middle-aged English missionary. He is a gin-soaked river rat living by trading up and down the Congo River from a ramshackle old steamboat named The African Queen. They are thrown together by a German offensive that leaves them isolated and in danger of being captured and held as prisoners of war (or worse, they could be shot as spies). To escape, they must travel down the river past the Germans. What follows is part comedy, part tense drama, and part high adventure. The river and its wildlife pose as much of an obstacle as the Germans, and Bogart and Hepburn must not only learn to get along, but to trust in, and rely on, each other to survive.
This is a wonderful movie. The acting is superb (Bogie got an Oscar for "Best Actor"), the story is excellent, and the scenery is beautiful (it was shot on location). They just don't make make them any better than this, and I can't imagine any reason why anyone would NOT want this in their collection. Very highly recommended.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
The African Queen is one of my all time favorite movies period.I was very young when I first saw this movie and marvelled later when my youngest son sat glued to the tv, in wonderment at this ragged steamboat and the adventures it sailed its two passengers into, for the steamboat is a third character in this movie, very broadly based on C. S. Forester's novel, set in WWII Africa and director John Huston directs with a sure hand with I imagine injecting humor that is not in the book. The great writer James Agee conributed to the scipt (an suffered a heart attack playing tennis with Huston but lived to finish the script) and the meeting and mating of the gin-soaked steamboat captain (Bogart) and Christian missonary (Hepburn) clash at first but slowly but wonderfully touching and funny find each other and need each other for survival, love and even high spirits. Filmed in Africa with beautiful cinematography. Of interst are the book wrote by Hepburn about her adventures making the African Queen and the novel "White Hunter, Black Heart" by Peter Viertel, then husband of the actress Deborah Kerr, whose barely fictionized portrait of John Huston was filmed by Clint Eastwood. But those are only stories to sidetrack you. The movie itself is a precious, funny, adventure, well-acted and directed and a true classic that can entrall the whole family. A great film.
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When will this great movie be available in DVD Region 1?
The strange thing is that you can't get a direct answer to this question. This is SUCH a classic. An absolute MUST for any ones film library or viewing. I can't for the life of me, understand what corporate or legal decision is keeping this from a good studio quality DVD copy. All I read are... Read More
Mar 24, 2008 by Larry M |  See all 11 posts
The African Queen
I'm wondering the same thing...is this movie, not counting low-quality imports and bootlegs, FINALLY for sale on an authorized DVD release? Amazon lists the studio as Paramount, so I'm hoping. I'm going to search and post here what I find.
Nov 8, 2009 by Devin Melancon |  See all 8 posts
Black & White or Color
Yes it has. I got to see it on the old AMC before the changed their stripes, taped it and have since copied that tape to disc. Update am re-recording off TCM as I type this and putting in on disc :-)
Aug 2, 2008 by Eric Pregosin |  See all 2 posts
Movies
It means a VHS-Videocasette compatible with the North American television standard NTSC("National Television System Committee".) If your VHS-player only allowed PAL- or SECAM-playback you would not be able to watch this video.
Aug 9, 2006 by Gerald Lenz |  See all 2 posts
DVD
I agree - Having it released to the rest of the world in Region 2 encoding dosesn't help one bit for us here in the USA. This is the only collaboration of two GREAT stars - Hepburn and Bogart. And arguably one of the movies by either one of them.
Jul 14, 2006 by Amazon Customer |  See all 3 posts
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