The waters of a Central African river becomes a visual metaphor for the romance between world-weary seaman Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart in his Oscar-winning performance) and prim preacher’s sister Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) in this 1951 classic.
Just as the mosquito-infested region mirrored the characters’ early irritation with one another and the life-threatening rapids mimicked their growing sexual tension, so the river’s eventual marriage to the sea seemed to paint a poignant cinematic portrait of two souls who, though lost alone, discover that together they are invincible.
One of the silver screen’s most beloved love stories, The African Queen— which ranks at #14 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions– docks at the half-way point in Lovetripper’s look at the top 10 most romantic travel movies of all time.
As equally stellar on the big screen as Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart is the majestic scenery. Unlike other movies of its time, The African Queen was filming partially on location, with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ruiki River and Ponthierville Falls and Uganda’s Kabalega Fall National Park and Port Butiaba playing prominent roles.
Charlie Alnutt’s beloved boat may have chugged to her doom in the final reel of the movie classic, but in real life The African Queen is moored in the Florida Keys, bringing a touch of Tinseltown magic to the tourists booking a stay at the Holiday Inn Key Largo, situated adjacent to the canal which is now the tugboat’s home.
Everyone who has ever boarded the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland has The African Queen to thank for the experience, as the attraction took inspiration from the 1951 classic.
Lovetripper Reader Recommendations
This was what love is all about, it is easy to believe and they had very hard and trying times, they did not give up on each other. When they looked like they were to die, they wanted to be married and die that way. What a excellent story.– Edna
Although not in a beach paradise with instant sexual attraction, Bogart and Hepburn showed that real romance comes from character and respect.– Flora
Bogart and Hepburn at odds in the brutal African interior battling each others wants/needs and the formidable environment made the movie one of the most thought provoking films ever. It made both sexes realize that their differences can be overcome with the proper understanding and compassion for the other.– David
It’s a movie I can watch over and over and enjoy again and again.– Mary
You can’t get any better than the pairing of Bogart and Hepburn, and under the direction of a powerhouse like John Huston this movie was destined for greatness.– Roger
The African Queen should definitely be on the list of the top 10 most romantic travel movies of all time as it was one of the first movies with scenes shot on location. It’s a common occurrence now, but I remember seeing the movie in theaters and the African landscape made quite an impression on me.– Michael
Katharine Hepburn’s Rosie is one of the most inspiring women ever in the movies.– Sarah
Aside from the leeches, bugs and torrential rain, watching The African Queen makes me want to take a chance and explore the world. There’s not many movies today that inspires that sort of feeling, unfortunately.– Nelson
Photos courtesy Amazon, Picapp