In the jungles of German East Africa in 1914, German troops destroy a British Methodist settlement, resulting in the death of the missionary. His sister Rose taps Canadian boat captain Charlie Allnut to bring her back to civilisation. But along the way, the prim spinster boldly takes command of the rickety tub and persuades the rough-hewn, alcoholic skipper to help her do her bit for the war effort by sinking a German gunboat patrolling Lake Tanganyika … Portraying the water correctly presented a serious problem for this “outdoor screwball comedy”, shot on location in Uganda and what was then the Belgian Congo. Cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who had already proven with the war film Western Approaches (Pat Jackson, 1944) that the heavy Technicolor cameras could handle the high seas, said of The African Queen that “the river itself was incredibly black”. He managed to light the jungle scenes with just two lights, while the rapids vortices, with their quick-change reflections, took him by surprise. He also faced the challenge of coordinating the colours of those location shots with the scenes shot in a studio water tank.
United Kingdom / USA 1951, 105 min