Retro Movie Review: The African Queen (TCM’s Big Screen Classics – Fathom Events)
By Dr. Zaius
Monday, July 19th, 2021 at 10:24 am
As long as I could remember, my mother would put on her hilarious mock-British accent and call everyone “Mr. Allnut” whenever she wanted us to do anything around the house. I got a chance to take my mom to see Mr. Allnut on the big screen for the first time, as The African Queen was in theaters this weekend for its 70th Anniversary as part of TCM’s Big Screen Classics series through Fathom Events.
The 1951 classic stars Humphrey Bogart in his lone Oscar-winning role as steamboat captain Charlie Allnut in German East Africa helping missionary Rose Sayer, the 12-time Oscar nominee/4-time winner Katharine Hepburn down the Ulanga River. Directed by the great John Huston, the film is a part of the National Film Registry.
Check out my video review of the film here below.
Bogart was always my favorite of the golden era leading men and he and Hepburn are the main attractions here as their playful banter upon the titular vessel leads to confrontation, still hilarious comedy, and genuinely heartwarming romance. The two are essentially alone on the Queen for the bulk of the film and they revel in James Agee’s and John Huston’s Oscar-nominated screenplay. Also a true standout is cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who makes the most of the African wildlife and setting in this memorably beautiful film.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary, the film was introduced by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, who spoke about the troubles on set, shooting in the hot African climate, and how only Bogart and wife Lauren Bacall avoided sickness by drinking copious amounts of scotch, whereas poor Hepburn drank water and contracted dysentery. After the film, Mankiewicz returned to offer a few more trivia nuggets citing Hepburn’s memoir about the film, The Making of the African Queen.
Through Fathom Events, TCM is returning to theaters each month for the rest of year with more classic films. They typically run Wednesday and Sundays during the afternoons. On August 15th/18th, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory celebrates its 50th anniversary. September 19th/22nd sees the 80th anniversary of what many call the greatest film ever made, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. In October, we get scary with the 30th anniversary of Oscar winner The Silence of the Lambs on October 17th/20th. A pair of musicals hit theaters in November with High Society and West Side Story before Katharine Hepburn is back for the 40th anniversary of her final Oscar-winning performance, On Golden Pond, in mid December.
Go to Fathom Events to see the whole lineup and to purchase tickets in advance.