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Netflix Daily Pick: Love and Danger on ‘The African Queen’ (1951)

Today's pick is a classic adventure on the waters of Africa.

The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film about a gin-swilling riverboat captain in Africa who is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

Today’s Netflix pick is a classic old school adventure film from one of cinema’s greatest directors, an Academy Award-winning story that is considered one of the best movies ever made. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, it’s big budget, technicolor epic with terrific locations, classic romance, lots of action, and great dialogue. It’s The African Queen and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

THE STORY: Directed by John Huston, it follows Rose (Hepburn), a British missionary who works in German-occupied East Africa as World War I breaks out. Circumstances have her aboard a mail carrier steamer launch named African Queen, captained by a Canadian named Charlie Allnut (Bogart). Angered by the loss of her brother at the hands of German soldiers, Rose makes a plan to gerry-rig homemade torpedoes to sink a big German gunboat downriver. Now all they have to do is survive the rapids, the German forts, and each other, cuz you know, hearts being hearts and all.

The African Queen
The African Queen, 1951 © Romulus Films

WHY YOU NEED WATCH: Made at a spectacular time in filmmaking, the lush colors and beautiful, authentic locations (much of the movie was shot in Uganda and the Congo) make this a wonder to watch. That said, the dynamic between Bogart and Hepburn is truly the thing here with great humor, lively romance, and plenty of drama. The script is smart and sharp pitting the uptight church-going gal against the boozing, brash boater, and naturally, well, some sparks sparkle. Bogart won an Oscar (Hepburn was nominated), and there’s just nothing like the style of these classic 50s films, a little over-the-top but wonderfully so in the right hands. Filled with great effects and and a terrific score by Allan Gray, The African Queen is a unique story that is exciting and inspiring. It’s streaming on Netflix right now.

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