Bogart won his only Oscar for his performance as Charlie Allnut, the rum-guzzling skipper of the less-than-regal skiff that gives John Huston’s adventure classic its title. (The character was a Cockney in the original script, but was changed to Canadian to accommodate Bogart.) Running supplies and mail upriver in German East Africa at the beginning of WWI, the crewless captain finds himself reluctantly recruited for the war effort when prim but patriotic British missionary Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) discovers that the German gunboat Queen Luise is guarding a strategic lake nearby, and hatches a plan to destroy it with homemade torpedoes. En route to the showdown of Queen vs. Queen, the unlikely team of teetotalling spinster and coarse Canuck is tested every step of the dangerous way by churning rapids, swarming mosquitoes, and violent storms. Shot largely on location using cumbersome cameras, The African Queen had a famously troubled production, but you would never know it from the film’s final perfection; Jack Cardiff’s luxuriant Technicolor cinematography, beautifully restored in this 4K presentation, is especially fine.
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