Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The African Queen...

Several years ago, back in my first year at University, we were shown The Maltese Falcon (on a restored print, fact fans) during the first semester's foundation unit, which covered the essentials of cinema. It was at this screening that I immediately became a Bogart fan, and therefore set about gathering up as many Bogart films as I could find - indeed, you might say I was Bogarting the Bogart, to coin the popular phrase that derives from his name.

Back when Virgin Megastore was still around (it's now Zavvi, after a take-over of the franchise), there was a 4 DVDs for £30 offer on, and one of the discs I picked up was The African Queen, Bogart's 1951 double-act with Katherine Hepburn, which one the former a long-awaited Oscar.

For some reason, however, I never got around to watching it. So for years (count five and a bit) the DVD has sat on my shelf, watched only once - by two of my uni mates when they'd ran out of stuff to watch in bed. But as previously blogged about, I'm in a major "gotta watch a bunch of films I've got but haven't seen yet" mindset, so I nabbed The African Queen off the shelf and shoved it into my computer and barged through it like a knife through butter.

I've no idea why it's taken me so long - partial laziness, partial waiting for the right mood to kick in, partial too busy to do so mentality - but spiffing it certainly is. It might not be Bogart's best performance, but it's strong and engaging nonetheless and rides completely over the somewhat oddball plot (take the boat down river through rapids and leech infested reed beds in order to ram into a German boat to blow it up ... with hand-made torpedoes).

Indeed, it's easy to chuckle at the story at times, but that's all forgettable as the two central performances are so engaging that it's just all about Charlie and Rosie's journey through Africa. A definite must-see for Bogart followers.

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