Customer Reviews: The African Queen [Blu-ray]
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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. Films might go to a famous locale and shoot a couple of scenes for realistic flavoring, as with a couple of scenes in ON THE TOWN or AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Many Westerns had been shot on location, but that was no great challenge given the close proximity of Hollywood to Western locales. John Huston had previously filmed THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE in Mexico, but going to the Congo and Uganda for extensive filming had rarely been attempted (sorry, all those Tarzan movies were filmed in California). It was a spectacular undertaking (which Katherine Hepburn recorded in a book she wrote about making THE AFRICAN QUEEN).
There is a war plot that provides the setting for the film, but to be honest it really isn't very important. What is crucial is the remarkable dynamics between Bogart and Hepburn, as they go from loathing one another, to liking, and then to loving. It has to be the most unlikely love story in the history of film, and yet somehow these two great actors not only manage to sell it, but make it quietly majestic. There is not much in the way of cast to speak of, apart from the two leads. Robert Morley manages a small but memorable part near the beginning of the film, but Bogart and Hepburn utterly dominate the film's onscreen time. Luckily, they have no trouble pulling it off.
As odd as this film was, there had been attempts to make it into a film for quite some time. If one is familiar with Bette Davis's career, there had been a couple of attempts to film it with her in the lead with various leading men (including James Mason). But surely Katherine Hepburn is the perfect Rose Sayer. Like in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, she can communicate self-righteousness better than anyone. Davis would only have managed egotistical haughtiness. But I'm sure everyone would agree that the casting ended up being for the best.
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on November 5, 2000
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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on May 15, 2001
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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on January 31, 2008
Purchased DVD not expecting much in the way of quality.

To say I was pleasantly surprised would be a grave Understatement.

*Picture Quality is Incredible! ~FLAWLESS~
*Sound Quality is Excellent! ~Crystal Clear~

If it were not for the Asian text on the case (and removable subtitles) one wouldn't know this is an Asian Import Release DVD.

I wouldn't hesitate, for a moment, to give this as a Gift to anyone.

This release is a ~WINNER~ all around!

Thank you, South Korea, for giving us an import worth much more than it's price!!! :)

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on February 22, 2008
This review pertains to the Korean release DVD itself. We already know that this movie is a flawless classic. No need for a review.

Until the U.S. release this title domesticly, this officially licensed Korean release is the one to get. The cover is white with red and blue artwork.

The picture is sharp. The sound is clear. And the best part is it plays in the U.S. DVD machines. Yes, there is Korean subtitle. But all I had to do is turn it off. No problem.

Don't hold your breath on the U.S. release. It may be years before someone wakes up and smells the coffee. I bought a copy of this release, and I'm happy I did. I've watched it twice now.
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on May 13, 2000
...but I love this movie! Well-acted, spectacular scenery and a few unexpected surprises -- this movie holds up very well after nearly 50 years.
Okay, to the plot -- Charlie Olnutt (Humphrey Bogart) is the carefree, Canadian gin-swilling skipper of the "African Queen", a beat-up mail steamer that plies the rivers of East Africa at the beginning of World War I. Rose (Katherine Hepburn) is a prim British missionary, who hitches a ride with Olnutt when her missionary brother dies after an encounter with German soldiers. However, the two have very different ideas on how to proceed. Olnutt is content to wait out the war in a remote spot along the river. Rose believes the two should somehow contribute to the war effort. Eventually, the pair agree to rig the African Queen with two homemade torpedoes in order to destroy a large German steamship which is prowling Lake Victoria. But getting to the lake just as dangerous. Charlie and Rose find themselves battling deadly rapids, crocodiles, leeches, a German fort and each other on their journey.
My favorite scene is when Charlie calls Rose a "skinny old maid". Rose's chin quivers, but then she collects herself -- and makes Charlie pay.
A very memorable movie that is well worth the money.
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on April 10, 2005
It amazes me to no end that some of the cheeesiest movies ever made are released on DVD months or even weeks after they appear in theaters. But a classic like "AFRICAN QUEEN" can sit in company archives and if released on disc would surely mean a nice piece of change in many pockets.

I wouldn't mind if it showed up on cable and I was able to record it with my DVD Recorder,but it hasn't even been broadcast in months.

How can this happen?
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on March 23, 2010
FINALLY one of the Greatest Movies of ALL TIME with the BEST Actors Humphrey Bogart (Oscar Winning Performance) and Katherine Hepburn (only time these two co-starred together) are magical and wonderful!!! Directed by John Huston on location in East Africa (Belgian Congo). This was unique for it was 1951 and TECHNICOLOR Camera Equipment was huge, cumbersome and a very expensive process. But with this NEW BLU-RAY DVD remastered release proves the test of time with unbelievable color detail and beautiful photography.

Watching this Blu-ray presentation in a home theater environment allows us to experience this film better than in the Movie houses of 1951!!!! Although Standard 4:3 Aspect Ratio (before Widescreen introduced in 1953) the beauty and magnificent screen play is acted out by our stars flawlessly. The picture color/clarity and Dolby Digital Sound is sooooo vivid you can feel the jungle humidty and heat and hear clearly the sounds of the jungle/river as if you were there. Bogie & Hepburns chemistry and presence dominates this beautiful Love Story wonderfully.

This is a must have for your HD 1080P Home Theater and a family classic you will enjoy many times over. The SPECIAL FEATURE includes a newly made 2010 59 minute HD film; EMBRACING CHAOS: Making "The African Queen". ENJOY!!!!
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THE AFRICAN QUEEN is probably one of the most widely available films in the world, on sale in the electronics department of virtually every major retail chain, a commonplace at every rental counter, frequently seen on television. It is hard to imagine any one in the western world, especially in the United States, who has not seen the film at least once--and probably more than once. And so we take it for granted.
That is a mistake. Based on the famous C.S. Forester novel, which it follows quite closely, THE AFRICAN QUEEN is the simple story of pragmatic river-rat Charlie Allnut (Bogart) and high-minded Methodist missionary spinster Rose Sayer (Hepburn) who are thrown together by chance when German troups sweep through Africa during World War I. Once safely aboard his beat-up riverboat "The African Queen," Allnut desires nothing more than to dodge the Germans until war's end; Rose, however, determines to strike a blow against the Germans by sailing the boat downriver to attack a German battleship.
There are so many fine things about this movie that they are hard to innumerate. Filmed on location in the Congo, the cinematography is remarkably fine without being obtrusive; the script, which is at once subtle and very purposeful, has a remarkably natural tone; the two stars--who play the vast majority of the film alone together--give justly famous performances; and Huston's direction is so fine that we never feel even the slightest hint of directorial manipulation. As an adventure, it has a sense of realism that most adventure stories lack; as a character study it is remarkably detailed and finely wrought; as a love story, it is quite touching without engaging in common sentimentality. And it can be enjoyed by many people of diverse backgrounds and ages without the faintest qualm.
If you haven't seen THE AFRICAN QUEEN in a while (or heaven forbid never seen it at all) don't take it for granted thinking you'll catch it sooner or later. Sit down with the film and watch it with fresh eyes. You'll be amazed.
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on January 9, 2012
There is no point in reviewing the film itself. Taking place in 1914, even after 60 years it holds up well. It is not widescreen, but there were no widescreen productions in 1951. What it has, however, is three-strip Technicolor photography, which was not only unusual for a film in 1951 (most were still black and white), but nearly unheard of for on location shooting, particularly in the (literally) wilds of Africa. To understand the difficulty that was encountered in using this process on location, I highly recommend the accompanying hour-long documentary, "Embracing Chaos." There is no commentary track, but this fast paced documentary will tell you more about the film than most screen-specific commentaries out there. I also think that it could be argued that the restoration team has made the film better than it looked even in its original showings. This is particularly evident in the minimization of the many process shots. As pointed out in "Embracing Chaos," when originally shot, it was simply impossible to remove the greenish halos around the actors when placed in front of a previously shot scene. Indeed, I was surprised to learn that as much as 50% of the film was shot in England. The integration is amazing. Although there are a couple of obvious miniatures, the Blu-ray definition does not overly magnify them. I cannot imagine the film ever looking better than it does here and the plus of the documentary, added to the fact that you can get it for 15 bucks makes it a no-brainer purchase.
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