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 Uganda: “The African Queen” is a famous adventure film released in 1951, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. The movie was based on the 1935 novel of the same name by C.S. Forester and tells the story of two people who fall in love while navigating a dangerous African river during World War I.
The movie was primarily filmed on location in Uganda and the Congo, and the production was known for its challenging and adventurous shoot. Here are some interesting facts about the making of the movie in Uganda:
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 Hepburn wrote q book that reflected her sentiments after the filming in Africa. “How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.”
The 1951 Adventurous making of the Movie the African Queen in Uganda: The film and cast arrived filled with excitement and considerable expectations. Katharine Hepburn loved Africa when she first came. Like many visitors today, she was curious about everything she saw that was new and, at times, strange.
Humphrey Bogart never liked Africa but made his time here tolerable with excessive amounts of Scotch that he shared with director John Huston.
The making of the Movie “The African Queen in Uganda”: The book’s title best describes the reality on the ground in Africa 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 movie, however, won Humphrey Bogart his only Oscar.
The 1951 Adventurous making of the Movie the African Queen in Uganda
Many have seen the 1951 film “The African Queen” with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
“The African Queen” was primarily filmed in the Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Congo, they often stayed in the bush and jungle.
In Uganda, scenes were filmed near Murchison Falls Park and Lake Albert in the then port of Butiaba. Butiaba was then used by passenger sea-planes from Cairo to Capetown as a midway refueling station. Passengers would stay overnight at the now historic Masindi Hotel, the first hotel built in Uganda.
The “African Queen” cast stayed at the Masindi Hotel located in Masindi, near the Butiaba port and Murchison Falls Park, one of the most popular parks in East Africa and advertised by TWA airlines as a travel destination.
Other notables that have stayed at the Masindi Hotel include Ernest Hemingway after he crashed twice near Murchison Falls and in Butiaba. British Royalty has visited as well the famous travel writer Michael Palin.
The making of the Movie was a true adventure. The filming of the African Queen should have been made into a movie, and it would have been a hit with its drama, African surprises like snakes, scorpions, and more.
On the set, pit latrine outhouses were used. The cast had been drinking foul water, and everyone but Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston came down with a violent case of dysentery. Humphrey Bogart and John Huston drank Scotch and not foul water.
During the dysentery episode, the cast formed long lines in front of the pit latrines. During one incident, a woman came running and screaming out of a pit latrine after encountering a poisonous Mamba snake curled up in the rafters of the outhouse. The rest of the staff seemed to be miraculously cured of their bouts with dysentery.
Such incidents were why Katherine Hepburn almost lost her mind during the Movie’s filming.
The director, John Huston, had chosen the wilds of Africa for the making of the “African Queen.” All that without the safari comforts available to tourists even back then.
In Uganda, the film crew stayed in relative comfort in Entebbe at a resort-like Hotel and the Masindi Hotel, four hours’ drive north of Entebbe.
How Katherine Hepburn felt about her Time in Africa
Life became tough when they moved into a makeshift camp in the Belgian Congo. You jumped into bed at night to avoid mosquitoes, and in the morning, you checked your shoes for centipedes.
Katharine Hepburn described her feelings about her time in Africa best when she wrote in her book “The making of the African Queen – Or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.”
“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.”
Unlike Katherine Hepburn, most visitors and tourists do not experience Africa as she did. For most a visit to Africa is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.
The Boat -The African Queen
Today two boats claim to be the African Queen. One in Key Largo, Florida, the other in Jinja on the Nile, and Lake Victoria in Uganda.
There are claims that two boats were used to make the “African Queen.” We know that one of them became the S.S. Murchison transporting tourists to the Falls. Ironically, Ernest Hemingway, after his plane crashed, was rescued by the Goan pilot of the former African Queen.
The S.S. Murchison was taken out of service and abandoned. An engineer discovered it in poor condition and bought it for $1.
He restored and used it but eventually moved it to his Nairobi, Kenya, residence. It sat there for years and again deteriorated until Cam McLeay, the owner of a lodge on the Nile, bought it and restored it.
For several years it plowed the waters of the Nile, but then once again, it disappeared. Hopefully, Tourists will be able to take sunset cruises on the African Queen soon. Glasses, not filled with Scotch, but Uganda Waragi. The gin that Ugandans love.