The African Queen

Screening on Film
Directed by John Huston.
With Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley.
US, 1952, 35mm, color, 106 min.
Print source: Paramount Pictures & Criterion

Set in the Belgian Congo, The African Queen serves as a reminder that the war’s impact was truly global. Adapted from the novel by C.S. Forester, the wonderful screenplay by James Agee and John Huston imagines a British spinster uprooted from her Congolese ministry by the arrival of German troops that she escapes with the help of the grimy captain of the title vessel, a tramp steamboat. The film makes the most out of the plot’s central irony: by uprooting the lives of two lonely people and tossing them together, the war’s destructive tempest brings them to life. The war is mostly offscreen, although Forester’s novel found its origin in the battle for Lake Tanganyika between German naval forces and outgunned Belgian and British ships. 

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Grand Illusions
The Cinema of World War I

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