Monday, June 20, 2011

Enjoyable voyage on "The African Queen"

Cover of "The African Queen (Commemorativ...Cover via AmazonThe African Queen -- John Huston's take on the "river journey" film, still holds up today, as both an adventure and a romance.

I found myself comparing this, unfairly of course, to Casablanca because of Bogart and his battle with the Germans (different war, I know). His character is much different, though. Rick Blaine would have tossed Rosie (Katharine Hepburn's character) over the side of the boat within 10 minutes. Charlie submits to Rosie's will early and often and she dominates the pair for most of the film.


The scene where they "consummate" their relationship shows how much things have changed in Hollywood since the 50's. They kiss passionately (no tongue, of course) and the scene dissolves. Fade in to the morning with Charlie sleeping and Rose smiling down on him preparing to serve him breakfast in bed. I'm sure feminists would have a field day with that. If the film was remade today, we would have seen the boat rockin' on the river and perhaps some startled wildlife. Clothing would have been strewn all over the Queen.


The ending was a bit contrived for my taste, but that was the way of it during that time period. Shakespeare would have been proud of the extreme coincidence of the final scene. All's well that ends well, I suppose.


The African Queen is ranked number 65 by the AFI, and I think it's appropriate. It influenced many films which followed (Romancing the Stone for one). If you watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, you can see the relationship between Indy and Marion has Charlie and Rosie's fingerprints all over it.


My next film will be The Apartment (1960) -- #80 on the list.


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