But who is going to be interested in a story about two old men going down a river in Africa?” It was the year 1950 and there was still no custom of filming outdoors. The big studios continued to film jungles and deserts within Hollywood Best Adventure Movies. But Huston was an adventurer in and out of the movies and was convinced that shooting on real locations, sailing hundreds of miles of river, was the only way to make his story believable. Furthermore, Huston thought that if the actors suffered as much as their characters, no one would question the authenticity of the story.

Legend has it that Huston was really just looking for an excuse to go to Africa and hunt an elephant, as Clint Eastwood told in his film White Hunter, Black Heart . A whim that ultimately served to set up one of the most original adventure films in the history of the genre; a clever combination of humor, romance, and action that makes it absolutely irresistible.

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The film brought together for the first time on the screen two sacred celluloid monsters like Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, giving rise to one of the most inspired acting duels in the history of cinema. She is a rather uptight British missionary and he is a drunken boatman. The First World War has broken out and the Germans are spreading across Africa. Fleeing from them, these two very different characters start a trip aboard a barge in which they must descend a river full of dangers.

Books have been written and movies made about the filming of The African Queen . A shoot as full of adventures as the film itself. Never before had such a strange flotilla sailed the African rivers. It consisted of three rafts. The first was a kind of set with cameras, the other two carried the material. John Huston and a team of 40 people went into the Belgian Congo. The expedition was also joined by Lauren Bacall who wanted to accompany her husband, Humphrey Bogart , throughout the filming. The team worked seven days a week facing all kinds of dangers.

The heat and humidity were unbearable. Torrential rains stopped filming for days and Huston took advantage of the situation to disappear into the jungle with a shotgun slung over his shoulder. Then there were the animals. Crocodiles or poisonous snakes that slipped into the cabins. Producer Sam Spiegel was bitten by a tarantula and miraculously saved by the massive doses of penicillin that Lauren Bacall carried in her luggage. BogartFor his part, he was attacked by a wild boar and, as in cartoons, he had to climb a tree to escape. On another occasion an army of fire ants invaded the camp. But the worst was the swarm of mosquitoes that visited them every afternoon. The rapids of the river also wreaked havoc. The barge that served as the set hit the rocks and sank. It took several days to repair it.

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It was well known that Bogart and Huston were two serious drunks. The Hepburn couldn’t stand it. He continually complained about his partner’s breath. One night he dumped the couple’s entire supply of whiskey into the river, exactly as in a sequence they had shot a few days earlier. In the end Bogart and Huston had their revenge. The entire team ended up falling ill with dysentery and malaria. Only the two of them, who didn’t taste the water and even brushed their teeth with gin, escaped going through the infirmary.

Katharine Hepburn , on the other hand, had to shoot many of her scenes hiding the tremors caused by her fever. Despite all these hardships no one complained. We could even say that there was an atmosphere of joy among the team. The actress always said that The African Queen had been one of the most exciting shoots of her career. She was so fascinated by the African adventure that she put up with all the inconveniences.

Despite the good atmosphere and the patience of the actors, John Huston decided to transfer the filming of the scenes in which there were splashes to a London studio. Shooting in the river would have been very dangerous, not only because of the crocodiles but because the water had turned into a mush of rotting vegetation. But not for that reason the director ceased in his realistic desire. In the famous leeches scene, Huston insisted that the bloodsucking bugs that cover Bogart’s body be real.

In July 1951 filming ended. Contrary to other classics that have been vindicated over time , The Queen of Africa was favored by critics and the public from the outset. Humphrey Bogart won the Oscar for best actor for her, the only one in his career, and Katherine Hepburn signed one of the most memorable roles of her long career.

Film African Queen

The filming of The African Queen is remembered today as a true odyssey. It quickly became a legend that Huston himselfwas in charge of promoting. In his memoirs, for example, he recounted: “It was in the first days of filming. We had hired a native to act as cook. One day the chief of the neighboring village shows up to inform me that several men in his tribe had mysteriously disappeared. Apparently when our cook couldn’t find meat to cook, he found it by other means. This man was executed by his tribe days later and I decided to keep the story to myself until we were far from Africa. The truth is that during those days nobody complained about the food. On the contrary, there were only congratulations for the cook”.

They say that sometimes the toughest conditions bring the best results. This film is proof of this, one of those essential titles in the history of cinema: The African Queen , the quintessence of the romantic adventure.

The best movies of the fantasy genre on Netflix

The real world is already complicated enough, and fantasy films give us the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in our imagination and discover worlds and ideas far beyond the tangible. But while comedies and dramas abound on the major streaming companies, fans of this genre may have a hard time finding something worth their time. For them, Netflix has a solid collection of movies, and best of all, the company is at full steam producing and adding this type of content.


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