Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The African Queen (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The African Queen (1951)

In this classic John Huston adventure film set in German East Africa at the start of World War I:

  • the extraordinary characters and their unlikely pairing: gin-swilling river rat Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) and prim missionary's sister Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn): (" crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid")
  • Rose's draining of Charlie's drink bottles
  • Charlie's mimicking of the look and sounds of submerged hippos and scratching baboons on shore as they floated along and his words to his sweetheart: "Pinch me, Rosie. Here we are, going down the river like Anthony and Cleopatra on that barge!"
  • their roller-coaster, down-river encounters with Germans and the treacherous rapids
  • Charlie's mimicking of Rose's "What an absurd idea!" after he had rejected her idea to go down river and blow up a German warship
  • their struggle against swarms of mosquitos
  • the scene of Charlie pulling leeches off his body after pulling the boat through the tangle of reeds and muck, and his reluctant return to the water
  • the stunning crane shot that pulled up and away from their stuck boat and disclosed how close they were to the lake
  • their sighting of the German gunboat Louisa and their plotting to blow it up by attaching a torpedo to the African Queen and ramming the gunboat
  • and the finale in which both of them were about to be hanged on the deck, but the Louisa collided with their partly submerged Queen outfitted with their homemade torpedoes on its prow - after an explosion, the newly-married couple found themselves in the water as black smoke engulfed the Louisa; a piece of the wreckage floating in the water displayed the name African Queen


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