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The 1951 Adventurous making of the Movie the African Queen in Uganda

Posted by on April 25, 2020

The making of the movie The African Queen in Uganda – The Reality

The making of the African Queen was nearly as adventurous as the Movie itself.

The 1951 Adventurous making of the Movie the African Queen in UgandaThe making of the Movie “The African Queen in Uganda”: The book’s title best describes the Reality that Katharine Hepburn wrote after the filming in Africa. “How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.”

They arrived filled with excitement and considerable expectations. Katharine Hepburn loved Africa when she first came. Like many visitors today, she was curious about everything that she saw that was new and, at times, strange to her.

 Humphrey Bogart never liked Africa but made his time here tolerable with excessive amounts of Scotch that he shared with director John Huston. 

The African Queen shoot turned out to be a genuinely Hemingwayesque African experience, something of a mixture of Hemingway’s “Green Hills of Africa” and “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”  

Katharine described her feelings about her time in Africa best when she wrote, “The Country is like a great sponge—it finally absorbs you. Eventually, you will get malaria, or you will get dysentery. Whatever you do, if you don’t keep doing it, the jungle will grow over you. Black or White, you’ve got to fight it every minute of the day.”

The making of the movie the African Queen in Uganda: 

Many have seen the 1951 film “The African Queen” with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, some of which were made nearThe 1951 Adventurous making of the Movie the African Queen in Uganda Murchison Falls Park, along with Lake Albert in the then port of Butiaba.  Most of the movie was made in the Belgian Congo, and it is there where they were mostly in the African Bush.

Portions of the movie “The African Queen” were filmed in Uganda. Simultaneously, the cast stayed in the historic Masindi Hotel-a battered-up African Queen Steamboat in Kenya (which had initially been found near Murchison Falls) and lovingly restored in Uganda.

The making of the movie was an adventure, pit latrine outhouses were used, and due to the cast drinking foul water, everyone but Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston came down with dysentery. They did not drink any water but copious quantities of Scotch.

There was a time when there was a long line in front of a pit latrine. A woman came screaming out of it after having encountered a poisonous Black Mamba, which somehow cured the rest of the cast and staff. Another reason that Katherine Hepburn almost lost her mind during the filming of the movie.

It was then raw Africa, no safari comforts except when they stayed in the oldest Hotel in Uganda built in 1923, the Masindi Hotel, and later in Entebbe in a more resort-like place. Entebbe in those days was the capital.

While the movie was being filmed in Uganda, things went reasonably well.  It was when they moved into a makeshift camp in the Belgian Congo – Life became tough.  You jumped into bed at night to avoid mosquitoes, and in the morning, you checked your shoes for centipedes.

It was not romantic Africa as the cast and crew might have imagined; this was the reality of daily life where one learns to thrive on chaos.

The 1951 Adventurous making of the Movie the African Queen in UgandaIronically one of the boats using in making the movie became the S.S. Murchison, which was manned by a Goan Pilot who rescued Ernest Hemingway after his plane crashed near Murchison Falls after clipping a telephone wire. There were stranded for a few days.

Hopefully, soon, the restored African Queen in Jinja along the Nile will take passengers on Nostalgic Cruises on the Nile. Visitors can experience Uganda in one of the original African Queen.

Such a cruise during the day or at sunset would be simply a fantastic experience and very different from the ones that Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn had a bit north in Murchison Falls Park and the Belgian Congo.

The making of the movie the African Queen in Uganda. The African Queen may have been made in 1951. In the 21st Century, there are still fans worldwide who love the movie and want to experience the boat first-hand. There would be no better place to do so than the historic River Nile itself. The sight of the crocodiles put a bit of fright into cast and crew, but they managed.

If the African Queen begins to operate again, we will let you know on this page…enjoy Uganda.