The Consensus 100 Greatest War Movies

May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#41
65. Pork Chop Hill

SYNOPSIS: "Pork Chop Hill" is a movie about the most famous battle in the Korean War. It takes place at the end of the war as the peace talks are winding down and both sides are fighting over real estate. One of those prime lots is an otherwise worthless hill. An American company is sent to keep and hold it. Gregory Peck plays the commander. In some ways it is an update of the Alamo.

BACK-STORY: “Pork Chop Hill” is arguably the most famous and best movie about the Korean War. It was directed by Lewis Milestone of “All Quiet…” fame. He also directed another “Forgotten War” film entitled “Steel Helmet”. PCH was his last war movie. It was released in 1959. Gregory Peck’s character, Joe Clemons, acted as technical adviser on the film. Clemons was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for the battle. The movie is populated by many familiar actors from the 1960s and includes a small role by Barry McGuire of future “Eve of Destruction” one hit wonder fame.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb, TCM, Guts and Glory

1. It is based on a book by military historian S.L.A. Marshall.Marshall later put forward the controversial theory that a large percentage of American soldiers never fired their weapons at an enemy.

2. Director Lewis Milestone claimed that the movie was cut by 20 minutes because Gregory Peck’s wife was upset that he was not arriving on screen soon enough.

3. Peck’s character Clemons does not fire a weapon in the movie because Peck was a committed pacifist and proponent of gun control.Peck had also been against American involvement in the war.

4. Producer Sy Bartlett intended for the movie to be very anti-war.The Pentagon approved the script in spite of this because the movie shows men obeying orders and the movie refutes the image of American soldiers bugging out.

Belle and Blade = 3.0
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 3.8
War Movies = 5.0
Military History = #39
Channel 4 = no
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no
Rotten Tomatoes = no


OPINION: “Pork Chop Hill” has been described as the best Korean War B-Movie. It is very good for what it is. The acting is solid. Not surprising considering the cast. Peck is Peck. Did he ever make a bad movie? Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, George Peppard, Robert Blake, the great Woody Strode. ‘Nuf said. The cinematography is a crisp black and white. The dialogue is refreshingly cynical in its commentary on war. It is gritty and authentic in its depiction of the randomness of death in combat. PCH is one of the best company level movies ever made. It is not a small unit dynamics movie ala “Platoon”. There is little dysfunctionality other than with Franklin (who is a fictional character). The biggest strength of the film is its historical accuracy. It is one of the best movies covering a battle. It reminds one of “Hamburger Hill” in its battles-can-be-futile theme. It also has a similar take on how command decisions based on political factors can result in unnecessary squandering of lives.

“Pork Chop Hill” is underrated at #66. It belongs in the top 50. It is one of the most realistic battle films and one of the best small unit movies. Considering when it was made and the budget, it is clearly a classic. It also deserves credit for representing the “Forgotten War” well.
 

Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
#42
Today many modern Brits regard Mrs Miniver' as cringe making. Dame May Whitty encapsulates the patrlonising upper middle class snobbery in the film that made the milions of soldiers returing to vote for a left wing Labour govt in the Generaql Elextion of 1945 when Atlee swept home in a Labour Party landslide win that left Churchill-who expected to cake walk into office-bewitched,, bothered and bewildered by the electorate's rejection of him as a peacetime Prime Minister.
My quarrel with the Bridges of'Toko Ri 'was that Holden reacted like shot down American pilots in Vietnam did not -by pulling a pistol and trying to shoot it out with surrounding Communist troops armed with automatic weapons.-crazy!. there was no point in his resisitance.
Mind you Ronnie Reagan plagiarised -in a subsequent speech,-Frederic March's closing words in the Bridges of Toko Ri ''Where do we find such men?'
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
#43
72. Colonel Redl (1985)

SYNOPSIS: Col. Redl (Klaus Maria Brandauer) is a closet Jew and homosexual who rises through the Austrian army pre-WWI by ratting out any comrades who are less than enthusiastic with the monarchy and the army. He is appointed head of military intelligence where his ambitious ferreting can flower. Ironically, he gets ensnared in his own game.

BACK-STORY: “Colonel Redl” is a Hungarian film directed by Istvan Szabo. It was the second in a trilogy and came after the acclaimed “Mephisto”. It is based on a British play by John Osborne entitled “A Patriot For Me”. The movie won the Jury Prize at Cannes, was chosen Best Foreign Film at the BAFTAs, and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. The movie was hardly shown in America and made just $2,357 in one week at one theater.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = N/A
War Movies = N/A
Military History = #50
Channel 4 = not on list
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no

OPINION: “Colonel Redl” is overrated at #72. It is interesting, but not special. It is an interesting movie, but predictable. The themes that power corrupts and ambition is bad have been explored ad infinitum. There is little that is outstanding about the film. The strength of the movie is the acting. Brandauer is excellent as Redl. His portrayal of a tormented man is mesmerizing. His performance is the main reason to watch the movie.
It should not be on this list , since it sounds like it doesn't involve a war, only the military. If "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" should not be on this list, neither should this one, since She Wore A Yellow Ribbon also involved the military and it was a great film. At least it had some fighting in it, but the war was avoided, not fought.
 
May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#44
65. Pork Chop Hill

SYNOPSIS: "Pork Chop Hill" is a movie about the most famous battle in the Korean War. It takes place at the end of the war as the peace talks are winding down and both sides are fighting over real estate. One of those prime lots is an otherwise worthless hill. An American company is sent to keep and hold it. Gregory Peck plays the commander. In some ways it is an update of the Alamo.

BACK-STORY: "Pork Chop Hill" is arguably the most famous and best movie about the Korean War. It was directed by Lewis Milestone of "All Quiet" fame. He also directed another "Forgotten War" film entitled "Steel Helmet". PCH was his last war movie. It was released in 1959. Gregory Peck's character, Joe Clemons, acted as technical adviser on the film. Clemons was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for the battle. The movie is populated by many familiar actors from the 1960s and includes a small role by Barry McGuire of future "Eve of Destruction" one hit wonder fame.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb, TCM, Guts and Glory

1. It is based on a book by military historian S.L.A. Marshall.Marshall later put forward the controversial theory that a large percentage of American soldiers never fired their weapons at an enemy.

2. Director Lewis Milestone claimed that the movie was cut by 20 minutes because Gregory Peck's wife was upset that he was not arriving on screen soon enough.

3. Peck's character Clemons does not fire a weapon in the movie because Peck was a committed pacifist and proponent of gun control.Peck had also been against American involvement in the war.

4. Producer Sy Bartlett intended for the movie to be very anti-war.The Pentagon approved the script in spite of this because the movie shows men obeying orders and the movie refutes the image of American soldiers bugging out.

Belle and Blade = 3.0
Brassey's = 4.0
Video Hound = 3.8
War Movies = 5.0
Military History = #39
Channel 4 = no
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no
Rotten Tomatoes = no


OPINION: "Pork Chop Hill' has been described as the best Korean War B-Movie. It is very good for what it is. The acting is solid. Not surprising considering the cast. Peck is Peck. Did he ever make a bad movie? Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, George Peppard, Robert Blake, the great Woody Strode. 'Nuf said. The cinematography is a crisp black and white. The dialogue is refreshingly cynical in its commentary on war. It is gritty and authentic in its depiction of the randomness of death in combat. PCH is one of the best company level movies ever made. It is not a small unit dynamics movie ala "Platoon". There is little dysfunctionality other than with Franklin (who is a fictional character). The biggest strength of the film is its historical accuracy. It is one of the best movies covering a battle. It reminds one of "Hamburger Hill" in its battles-can-be-futile theme. It also has a similar take on how command decisions based on political factors can result in unnecessary squandering of lives.

"Pork Chop Hill" is underrated at #66. It belongs in the top 50. It is one of the most realistic battle films and one of the best small unit movies. Considering when it was made and the budget, it is clearly a classic. It also deserves credit for representing the "Forgotten War" well.
 
May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#45
64. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

SYNOPSIS: In 1965, Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) arrives in Saigon to start a gig as a DJ on Armed Services Radio. He immediately rocks the boat with his rock and roll playlist and his ad-libs which poke fun at the military. He has a romance with a local girl and befriends her brother, who turns out to be in the Viet Cong. Cronauer becomes very popular with his soldier audience, but greatly infuriates his boss who is determined to make him toe the line.

BACK-STORY: "Good Morning, Vietnam" was released in 1987 and was a huge hit. It was the fourth highest grossing film that year. The film had its genesis from Adrian Cronauer shopping a script for a TV series or made for TV movie. He was unsuccessful until Robin Williams got wind of the story and decided he wanted to play a manic disc jockey in Vietnam. Barry Levinson directed from a script by Mitch Markowitz. Very little of Cronauer's script was used. The movie was shot in Bangkok, Thailand. Williams was nominated for Best Actor and won the Golden Globe for his role. The film is #100 on AFI's list of best comedies.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb, TCM, History.net

1. The movie is based on the experiences of Adrian Cronauer.Cronauer was in the Army and was a disc jockey for Armed Forces Radio Service in Vietnam in 1965.He did a morning show and opened with "Goooooood Morning, Vietnam" (his "gooood" was twice as long as Robin Williams).He wrote a screen treatment that he hoped to sell as a TV series and then as a TV movie.Although "MASH" was hot at the time, the studios were not interested in a Vietnam comedy.

2. Williams was made aware of the treatment and pushed for making the movie.The script in the movie, by screenwriter Mitch Markowitz (who had written for "MASH", used very little of Cronauer's script.Cronauer liked the movie but admitted that "Robin Williams played Robin Williams".

3. The movie was filmed in Thailand.They had trouble getting Asian extras because the movie "Off Limits" was in production at the same time.

4. As far as accuracy, Cronauer was a disc jockey for AFRS and he did teach an English class.That's about it.

5. Director Barry Levinson forbade Williams from meeting Cronauer because he was afraid Williams would imitate Cronauer in the movie.Levinson heard tapes of Cronauer and did not think he was funny.

6. The movie finished #5 at the box office in 1987.

7. After the success of the film, Cronauer went to law school and became an attorney specializing in media law.

8. Cu Ba Nguyen (Jimmy Wah) had been a military prisoner and had escaped from Cambodia.

Belle and Blade = 4.5
Brassey's = 2.0
Video Hound = 4.4
War Movies = N/A
Military History = not on list
Channel 4 = #31
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes
Rotten Tomatoes = #64

OPINION: GMV is highly acclaimed and highly overrated. It totally relies for its fame on Williams' improvs on the air. This makes Williams' Oscar nod a bit perplexing since he was essentially playing himself. The rest of the movie, while being admirably sincere, does not warrant the praise it got. It is curiously tame in its criticism of the war. Cronauer is anti-army, anti-censorship, anti-authority and anti-polka, but not really anti-war. What is depressing is 18987 saw three significant Vietnam War movies. GMV made $124 million, Full Metal Jacket made $46 million, and Hamburger Hill made $13 million. Americans preferred a movie about a standup comedian dropped into the war. Gag.
 
May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#46
63. Gettysburg (1993)

SYNOPSIS: "Gettysburg" is based on the novel "Killer Angels". It tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg mainly from the command perspective. The movie covers all three days of the battle and concentrates on the fight for Little Round Top and Pickett’s Charge. Although the main unit covered is Joshua Chamberlain’s (Jeff Daniels) 20th Maine, the movie is mostly from the Southern perspective.

BACK-STORY: “Gettysburg” is a war movie that began as a TV miniseries produced by Ted Turner. The finished product pleased the millionaire so much that he decided to release it to movie theaters. It may be the longest American movie (254 minutes) ever to appear in theaters. It appeared in a limited number of cinemas and did not recoup its cost, but the publicity was golden and when it was first shown on Turner Broadcasting Network, it was the most viewed basic cable program up to that time. The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The title was changed to the battle name after it was discovered that potential viewers thought the original title indicated a motorcycle gang movie. The National Park Service allowed filming on site, although much of the action was lensed at a nearby farm. The film made use of over 5,000 reenactors. There are also cameos by Ted Turner and Ken Burns. Turner is killed during Pickett’s Charge (rumor has it by Jane Fonda masquerading as a Union soldier). Burns plays an aide to Hancock.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb

1. The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel “Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara.It was going to be entitled eponymously, but test audiences thought it was a biker movie.

2. The project was pitched to ABC as a miniseries, but after “Son of the Morning Star” flopped, ABC passed.Ted Turner picked it up.

3. Turner has a cameo as Confederate Colonel Waller Patton (“Old Blood and Guts” great uncle).The real Patton was actually hit in the face by shrapnel during Pickett’s Charge.

4. Ken Burns, the famed documentarian, appears as an aide to Gen. Hancock.Historian Brian Pohanka is the Union officer who gathers all the swords after Pickett’s Charge.

5. It was the first time the National Parks Service allowed filming at Gettysburg.The scenes at Devil’s Den and Little Round Top were filmed on site.The rest of the film was done at a nearby farm.

6. In postproduction, Turner decided the movie was good enough to be released in theaters.At 271 minutes, it was the longest American film to ever appear in theaters.It appeared in 248 theaters.The TV premiere drew a record audience.

7. Over 13,000 reenactors took part in the film.They were in Gettysburg for the 125th Anniversary of the battle.

8. Sam Elliott wasthe only star who treated his uniform so it looked old and worn.He did the treatment in his hotel room.

9. The movie cut a Chamberlain brother.John, a doctor, was with the 20th Maine on Little Round Top.

10. The ASPCA commended the film for its treatment of horses.The explosions were low-noise to avoid scaring the horses.

11. Stephen Lang was actually thrown from his horse during Pickett’s Charge.

12. Longstreet was Tom Berenger’s favorite role.

Belle and Blade = 4.5
Brassey’s = 5.0
Video Hound = 4.4
War Movies = N/A
Military History = #46
Channel 4 = no
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no
Rotten Tomatoes = no

OPINION: “Gettysburg” has been harshly judged by critics who are not familiar with the Civil War, "The Killer Angels", or the way people talked and groomed in the 1860s. If you criticize the screenplay, you are essentially criticizing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The movie follows the book very closely. The dialogue is almost word for word from the book, which is a good thing. It could be argued that the movie improves on the book. There is little reason to read the novel if you see the movie. Thanks to the magnificent reenactors, we get two of the great battle scenes – the defense of Little Round Top and Pickett’s Charge. It is the second best Civil War movie, behind “Glory”. It belongs much higher on this list.
 
May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#47
62. Battleship Potemkin

SYNOPSIS: "Battleship Potempkin" is a Russian silent film about the crew of a battleship during the Revolution of 1905. The sailors revolt due to mistreatment while in the port of Odessa. The citizens of Odessa back the men, but the government forces are prepared to quell the rebellion.

BACK-STORY: “Battleship Potemkin” is a combination war movie / propaganda piece. It was meant to be one part of an eight part series on the Revolution of 1905. It turned out to be the only one in the series that ended up being made. It did not have the intended inspirational effect as it was not warmly embraced by the Russian people. It actually lost the box office to “Robin Hood” the opening week. It was a big hit outside Russia, however. The movie is justifiably famous and is considered Sergei Einstein’s masterpiece. It has been oft-copied by other directors. The film is divided into five parts: (1) “Men and Maggots” (2) “Drama on Deck” (3) “A Dead Man Calls for Justice” (4) “The Odessa Staircase” (5) “The Rendezvous with a Squadron”. Interestingly, the staircase scene was not planned as part of the movie and was added during production.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb

1. The movie was rushed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Revolution of 1905.

2. Eisenstein used lots of non-professional actors.He was more interested in “types” of persons.

3. The original script called for several episodes, but due to time pressure, Eisenstein pared it down to basically the uprising on the battleship.

4. The movie was banned in the United Kingdom longer than any other film in British history.It was not screened until 1954.

5. There was no massacre on the Odessa Steps, but troops did shoot into crowds in Odessa.

6. It was Charlie Chaplin’s favorite movie.

7. Brian DePalma reenacted the Odessa Steps Massacre scene in his movie “The Untouchables”.

8. Eisenstein used a battleship that had been beached to mark a sand bank.This is why you do not see the movie ship from a distance.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 5.0
Video Hound = 4.4
War Movies = N/A
Military History = #47
Channel 4 = no
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no
Rotten Tomatoes = no

OPINION: Once again we have a movie that is obviously one of the “greatest” war movies, but not necessarily one of the “best”. It is interesting and does a good job covering an important historical event. It is very influential and is still studied. This influence has been basically on films in general, not particularly on war movies, however. It is a classic that holds up well. You do not have to be a film historian to recognize the brilliance of Einstein’s direction. His innovations of montages and cross-cutting are apparent in their importance to the evolution of movie-making. The staircase scene alone is worth the price of admission. Since this is a list of the “greatest” war movies, I would say it is appropriately ranked at #62.
 
May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#48
61. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

SYNOPSIS: “Tora! Tora! Tora!” is the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor told from both points of view. It is mainly the command perspective, but it does culminate in an exciting reenactment of the attack with real aircraft. The movie covers the months leading up to the attack, so you get both the military and political machinations. It has a docudrama feel to it with an ensemble cast that portrays mostly historical characters. Spoiler alert: the Japanese win.

BACK-STORY: It had three directors: Robert Fleischer (“The Vikings”), Toshia Masuda, and Kinji Fukasaku (“Under the Flag of the Rising Sun”). It was based on books by Ladislas Farago and Gordon Prange (At Dawn We Slept). Five B-17s, two P-40 Warhawks and a PBY Catalina were available for the production. The Japanese Zeros, Kates, and Vals were played by modified A-6 Texans and BT-13 Valiants. Full scale mock-ups of the battleship Nagato and the aircraft carrier Akagi were built on the shore with ninety feet extending over the water. The movie won the Oscar for Best Special Effects and was nominated for Art Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing, and Sound. The movie was a flop at the box office in America, but a big hit in Japan.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb, TCM

1. The Japanese word “tora” means either “surprise achieved”, “attack”, or “tiger”.

2. Darryl F. Zanuck wanted to recreate the success of his “The Longest Day”.He also wanted to offer a revisionist view of the attack.Specifically, he was interested in refuting the belief that Admiral Kimmel and Gen. Short were to blame for the debacle.

3. The movie was a joint Japanese-American production.Akiro Kurosawa was the original Japanese director, but his style did not fit an American blockbuster and he chaffed at the suits looking over his shoulder.The suits chaffed at his slow and costly production methods.Some think he was so miserable with the situation that he purposely aggravated the studio into firing him.After working on the film for two years, he was fired two weeks into filming.Only about one minute of his work made it into the film.

4. The casting director was told to eschew big stars so the story would be the focus.

5. A B-17 was forced to make a crash landing because of a jammed landing gear.With a heads up on the situation, cameras were set up and it made it onto the screen.

6. At one point over 30 aircraft were in the air.

7. The main technical adviser was historian Gordon Prange who wrote “At Dawn We Slept” (entitled “Tora, Tora, Tora” in Japan).He had a lot of say on the script.

8. The U.S. Navy allowed a lot of personnel to participate off-duty.This caused some complaints from some Americans who still held a grudge over the attack.

9. The film credited 224 actors – 137 Americans + 87 Japanese.

Belle and Blade = 4.0
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 3.8
War Movies = N/A
Military History = no
Channel 4 = #39
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes
Rotten Tomatoes = no

OPINION: I do not understand the lack of love this movie got from critics. Yes, it is not splashy entertainment, but it is as accurate as you could expect and it is not a stale documentary. Along with “The Longest Day”, it is the best battle movie when it comes to giving fair treatment to both sides. It has some of the best air combat footage and this without CGI. The fact that it was a box office flop and “Pearl Harbor” wasn’t tells you a lot about what the American public wants when it comes to historical movies. As you can see above, it is not included in three of the five expert lists. That is a head-scratcher. Thankfully, it is fairly treated on this consensus list.
 
May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#49
60. Kagemusha (1980)

SYNOPSIS: “Kagemusha” means “shadow warrior” and refers to the practice of some Japanese daimyo of having doubles for security. The movie is set in the same Sengoku (Warring States) period that “The Seven Samurai” was set in. A shogun wannabe has a double who is a petty thief. When the daimyo (Tatsuya Nakadai, who also plays the thief) is assassinated, the kagemusha takes his place and has to deal with two lords who are at war with him. The movie climaxes in an epic battle.

BACK-STORY: Many feel that “Kagemusha” is Akira Kurosawa’s greatest masterpiece. He certainly meant for it to be. He got the idea for a samurai epic years before but career setbacks (like being fired from “Tora! Tora! Tora!”) and funding issues set things back and the film almost did not get made. It ended up being the biggest budget Japanese movie up until then. It was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (losing to “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears”). Kurosawa won the BAFTA for Direction. It won the Palme D’Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb

1. It is an example of a genre called “jidaigeki”.These are period films set in the Edo Period (1603-1868).These types of movies usually concentrated on the lives of samurai, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants.A subgenre is called “chambara” which means “sword fight”.Movies like “Kagemusha” have similar make-up, language, catch phrases (e.g., “Fires and brawls are the flower of Edo”) and plotlines.
Technically, “Kagemusha” is pre-Edo, but it certainly fits the genre.

2. George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola were credited as executive producers because when Toho Studios could not finish the funding for the film, they convinced 20th Century Fox to put up the rest of the money. Lucas and Coppola were big Kurosawa fans and were blown away by his personally painted story-boards for the film. 20th Century Fox got the international distribution rights, which was the first time an American studio distributed a Japanese film.

3. Part of the expense for the movie was Kurosawa bringing in two hundred specially trained horses from America. Many of the horses were ridden by expert female riders.

4. Originally Shintaro Katsu was to play the main role, but he was fired when he showed up on set with a camera crew to film Kurosawa’s methods for a film class he taught. Kurosawa brought in Nakadai because he had worked with him many times. Nakadai took the role without even reading the script.

5. Kurosawa used 5,000 extras in the final battle.

6. Much of the costumes and armor were borrowed from museums.

7. The final battle is the Battle of Nagashino (1575).

8. No female appears in the movie until the 73rd minute.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = N/A
War Movies = N/A
Military History = #34
Channel 4 = no
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes
Rotten Tomatoes = no

CONCLUSION: Not being an American director or professional movie critic, I feel I can impartially rule that “Kagemusha” is overrated. I can see why the above fawn over it, but as an average viewer it is too long and boring. There is way too much talking (and yelling) and not enough action. There are big buildups to the battles and then little pay-off. Even the final battle is brief. It does not belong on this list and is inferior to “Seven Samurai” (which did not make the list).
 
May 2011
363
New Iberia, La.
#50
59. The African Queen (1951)

SYNOPSIS: During WWI in Africa, a feisty missionary (Katharine Hepburn) and a crusty riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) team up to try to sink a German warship. Romance and adventures ensue as they encounter rapids and an uncooperative Mother Nature on their trek down the river.

BACK-STORY: “The African Queen” had one of the most famous productions in cinema history. Director John Huston insisted on filming half the movie on location in Uganda and the Congo. The Katharine Hepburn later wrote of enjoying the experience, but had to overcome dysentery, drunken pranks from Bogart and Huston, and Huston’s unique directing style. (Clint Eastwood later made a film about the production entitled “White Hunter Black Heart”.) The movie was a big hit with audiences and critics. It turned out the suits that thought an action / romance about an older couple would be icky were wrong. Bogart won the Best Actor Oscar and the film was nominated for Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Actress. In the most recent AFI ranking of the best movies it placed #65.

TRIVIA:Wikipedia, imdb, making of documentary

1. It is based on a novel by C.S. Forester.

2. It has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

3. Allnut was supposed to have a cockney accent, but Bogart could not pull it off so the character was made a Canadian.

4. The boat is now a tourist attraction in Key Largo, Florida.

5. Bogart won his only Best Actor Oscar.(Bogart was so sure he would not win he did not prepare remarks.)

6. The cast and crew were often sick in Africa (usually from dysentery from the water), but not Bogart and Huston because the only water they drank was with their copious amounts of scotch.Teetotaler Hepburn had to make runs to puke in a waiting bucket during the church scene.

7. Lauren Bacall accompanied her husband Bogart of Africa and served as movie mom for the cast and crew.She nursed and cooked.

8. For the rapids scene, an eight foot model was used.

9. Huston was concerned about the overly serious tone of Hepburn’s performance so he counseled her to channel Eleanor Roosevelt, specifically her “society smile”.Hepburn later said it was the best advice she ever got from a director.

10. Bogart hated Africa, Hepburn loved it.

11. Originally when the book was mentioned as a potential movie, Bette Davis and David Niven were considered for the leads.Later, it was going to be Davis and James Mason.

12. Huston was going to go on location in Kenya until he learned that big game hunting was illegal there.He switched to the Congo.Huston spent a lot of time hunting during the shoot.

13. Bogart and Huston played numerous pranks on the prim Hepburn.They would write dirty words on her mirror with soap.

14. All of the scenes with the actors in the water were shot in Great Britain because the water in Africa was dangerous.

15. Distributors hated their first look.They complained about Bogart’s unshaven look and thought Hepburn looked old.

16. The novel White Hunter, Black Heart by Peter Viertel was a thinly veiled story about the making of “The African Queen”.Viertel was one of the screenwriters on the film.Later, Clint Eastwood directed the movie version and played the Huston character.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = N/A
War Movies = 5.0
Military History = #32
Channel 4 = no
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no
Rotten Tomatoes = no

OPINION: “The African Queen” is one of the classic movies of any genre. While not definitively a war movie (as you can see above), it seems well-placed at #59. I personally would not have it in my top 100. It is old fashioned entertainment. It’s an almost perfect blend of adventure and romance. There is suspense in each of travails they go through and it builds to a surprising and satisfying ending (which is much better than in the novel). Although a little stodgy, the plot holds up better than some other supposed classics. The acting by the two leads could not be better. This is probably Bogart’s best performance and Hepburn matches him.
 

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