‘The African Queen’

This Thursday, Sept. 27, the Cinemark McCreless Market will continue its Cinemark Classic Series with a 1950’s classic: “The African Queen.” Adapted from a C.S. Forester novel of the same name, this film tells a tale of a strange and unexpected adventure during World War I.

The film is about a prudish British missionary, Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn), and a coarse boat captain, Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart). Charlie leads a courier boat named the African Queen through the rivers and swamps of the African wild.

When Rose’s village is raided by German soldiers, she has no choice but to join Charlie who intends to wait out the war on his vessel. Rose, however, turns out to be fierier than she lets on: she devises a plan to get Charlie and herself out of German territory.

Rose proposes that they attempt to escape to Allied territory by taking a notoriously impassable river-path towards a large lake downstream where they could find safety on the other side. Charlie explains that a large German gunboat, the Queen Louisa, is on patrol for British agents near the river-path, and that Charlie’s boat would surely be shot down. Rose, however, envisions a way to defeat the Germans: she asks Charlie if he could apply his technical skills to convert some empty oxygen tanks and some blasting jelly into a makeshift torpedo to be used to sink the Louisa; he reluctantly admits that it is possible. After much coercion, Charlie agrees to convert his own boat into a torpedo. Thus, the adventure begins.

Rose and Charlie’s adventure is unexpected and unusual.  The pair faces several daunting obstacles as they navigate the river, including brutal soldiers, shallow swamps and deadly rapids. The dynamic between Bogart and Hepburn is slightly awkward, which makes their conversations somewhat unsettling. Although Hepburn’s performance earned her a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 1951 Academy Awards, it is likely to fall flat on modern audiences. Rose’s quirkiness and passion is often lost in the wake of Hepburn’s awkward performance. However, whether intentionally or not, Rose and Charlie’s strained relationship happens to give momentum to the story, as does the musical score written by Alan Grey, which relies heavily on the use of discordant melodies to lend a sense of constant uneasiness to the film.

Although its obvious backdrops and its cut-and-paste wildlife montages have grown increasingly outdated, “The African Queen” is still regarded as a classic. The film’s staying power is likely due to the quality of the original story, which constantly refuses to meet audience’s expectations, and some tricky work from the cinematography team, which captured several novel action-shots at a time when camera equipment was far less mobile.

Despite the film’s quirks, it is both interesting and entertaining. Humphrey Bogart gives an exceptional performance as Charlie Allnut, bringing a true sailor’s mentality to the role.  His gruff-yet-loveable character provides tension and comic relief as the film moves towards its delightfully absurd finale.

“The African Queen” will be showing at the Cinemark McCreless Market on New Braunfels Ave on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For ticket prices and further information, go to  .