THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)

Dir. John Huston

In 1951, John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and a film crew sailed down the Ruiki River and into history with one of the first and still most popular location-shot films in Hollywood history. C.S. Forester's novel about an aging, grizzled riverboat skipper and an unmarried lady missionary taking on the Germans in World War I had been kicking around Hollywood since 1938. It was first considered as a vehicle for Charles Laughton and wife Elsa Lanchester and touted for Bette Davis and John Mills. It took Huston to finally get it made. Shepherding his stars through the African locations (and some London interiors and studio tank scenes), he helped them craft legendary performances that perfectly capture the way the journey transforms both participants. When Hepburn started out playing her role too seriously, he suggested she mimic Eleanor Roosevelt's "society smile," and the performance took off. Despite the difficult conditions on location, Bogart turned in a career-capping performance that finally brought him the Best Actor Oscar.

In attendance: Theodore Bikel.

THE AFRICAN QUEEN
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