Classic Movie Reviews

The African Queen

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( May 1907 -- Jun 2003 )  

Katherine Houghton Hepburn, born in Hartford, Connecticut, was in real life very much like the strong, assertive, independent women she often portrayed on the screen, thanks in part, no doubt, to being the daughter of a pioneering feminist and a progressive physician father. She became very fond of movies as a child and, while at Bryn Mawr College, decided acting would be her career. After four years of stage work, favorable reviews of her performances caught the eye of Hollywood, where she enjoyed some early success, winning an Oscar for her third picture, Morning Glory, in 1933. But then her next few films flopped at the box office and by 1938 she was labelled "box office poison." Being the kind of woman she was, she undertook to resurrect her career on her own. She bought out her contract at RKO Radio Pictures and acquired the film rights to The Philadelphia Story. She sold the rights with the proviso that she would play the lead. In the 1940s she signed with Metro-Goldwin-Mayer and began a 25-year professional (and, secretly, romantic) relationship with Spencer Tracy. They appeared in nine movies together, including Tracy's last, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, for which she received an Oscar). In middle age, she challenged herself to play Shakespeare and other literary productions and settled into a movie niche playing middle-aged spinsters, as in The Arican Queen.   She also won Oscars for The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond. She made her last screen appearance at age 87, capping a 60-year career. Besides her acting credits, she left her mark as an outspoken, athletic (a talented golfer) female who wore pants many years before they became acceptable female attire. In 1993 the American Film Institute named her the top Female Hollywood Legend.


            "Human nature, Mr. Alnott,
      is what we were put here to rise above."  

From a C. S. Forester novel, the story of a boozer (Humphrey Bogart) who runs a small river steam launch hauling supplies for a mining company in Africa. When WWI begins, German troops arrive at a mission that also receives its mail and supplies via the river boat to round up the natives for forced labor. The missionary (Robert Morley) tries to interfere but his heart gives out and his spinster sister (Katherine Hepburn) is left alone at the abandoned mission. When Bogie returns, she has no choice but to flee with him down the river, although she finds him to be a reprobate. The odd-couple pair survives various adventures with river rapids and German outposts until, in the end, they find mutual affection. Beautifully filmed on location in the Belgian Congo (where the scenes with massive swarms of mosquitos did not have to be created by special effects). Bogart received the Best Actor Oscar.


1951, Directed by John Huston

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A Face in the Crowd     
The African Queen       All Quiet on the Western Front    The Apartment    Bambi    Ben Hur    
The Best Years of Our Lives 

Bugsy Malone    Cabaret    The Caine Mutiny    Casablanca    Chicago    The Defiant Ones     Doctor Strangelove 

Double Indemnity
    El Cid    Elmer Gantry    Fantasia    Fiddler on the Roof    For Whom the Bell Tolls  

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

From Here To Eternity
    Funny Girl    Glory    Go For Broke    The Grapes of Wrath    Hamlet    

The Iceman Cometh   Inherit the Wind    It’s a Wonderful Life    Jesus Christ Superstar    Judgment at Nuremburg    

Julius Caesar    Key Largo Lawrence of Arabia    The Learning Tree    The List of Adrian Messenger     Little Big Man

My Fair Lady
The Neverending Story    North by Northwest    The Owl and the Pussycat    Porgy and Bess    

Pride of the Yankees
   The Producers    Purlie    Quo Vadis    The Red Badge of Courage    Requiem for a Heavyweight    

Rhapsody in Blue
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The Sound of Music    South Pacific   Spartacus    The Spirit of St. Louis    Stalag 17    

Sunset Boulevard

To Kill a Mockingbird      The Treasure of the Sierra Madre       Twelve Angry Men       Twelve O’Clock High    

2001 A Space Odyssey    The Victors     Victor Victoria   Watership Down     West Side Story    

The Wizard of Oz
    Yankee Doodle Dandy  

The Yearling

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