African Queen parents guide

African Queen Parent Guide

Overall B+

After the death of her brother Reverend Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley), who was serving in an obscure village, Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) finds herself alone in the jungle. With the onset of World War I and German troops invading Africa, the prim spinster's only hope of rescue is Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), the grumpy captain of a dilapidated boat that usually ferries supplies along the river.

Release date February 20, 1952

Violence C+
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A-
Substance Use C

Why is African Queen rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated African Queen Not Rated

Run Time: 105 minutes

Parent Movie Review

For nearly ten years, Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) has ministered beside her brother, the Reverend Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley). Deep in the African jungle, the Methodist missionaries’ only contact with the outside world is the sporadic mail delivered by Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), a displaced Canadian who uses his boat to ferry supplies up and down the river.

During a stopover, Charlie shares rumors about the start of World War I. Confident that their tiny village is safe from the onslaught of world events, the siblings are shocked when German troops tramp into the settlement, torch the straw huts and march the natives off under heavy guard. The trauma of the attack causes the Reverend to lose his mind and die, but not before his crazed ranting divulges some negative thoughts he’s harbored about his sister.

Alerted to the soldiers’ intentions, the gruff, unshaven Charlie returns to the village and finds Rose sitting alone among the smoldering shelters. After burying her brother’s body, he convinces the prim spinster to return to civilization with him. Outfitted in an oversized jacket, Rose boards the rickety, old, smoke-belching African Queen for a ride down river.

Two more unlikely traveling companions would be hard to find. But as the boat slowly steams down the current, Rose’s curiosity with Charlie’s freight sparks a patriotic fever that leaves her planning an attack on a German warship. Initially pooh-poohing her plucky proposal, it’s not long before Charlie realizes his part in the scheme of the “psalm-singing, skinny, old maid.” He also discovers the woman has an intriguing side that he didn’t know was there. Before long the two dissimilar boat mates begin to warm to each other and their tender love story unfolds while Rose breaks out of her staid existence and Charlie mends his undisciplined ways.

Audiences will find little in the way of content issues save the repeated scenes of smoking and drinking by the steamboat operator. As well as attacking the village, German soldiers fire shots at the pair of voyagers as they make their way downstream.

Placing the movie’s action into the hands of two capable actors, Director John Huston allows Bogart and Hepburn to carry the entire story for most of the film. It’s a risk that appears to have worked. Voted one of the American Film Institutes 100 greatest love stories, The African Queen was nominated for four Oscars in 1952. For Bogart, his nomination as Best Actor in a Leading Role led to the only Oscar win of his career.

Following Katharine Hepburn’s death in June 2003, families may find watching this film classic a great way to celebrate the life and accomplishments of America’s queen of the silver screen.

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn. Running time: 105 minutes. Theatrical release February 20, 1952. Updated

African Queen Parents' Guide

How does the portrayal of alcohol and cigarette use among the leading characters in this film compare with today’s films?

Could Charlie’s reference to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” be one of the earliest tellings of this favorite childhood joke? For new answers to this thought provoking question, check out the following sites: and

Home Video

The most recent home video release of African Queen movie is March 23, 2010. Here are some details…

Release Date: March 23, 2010
The African Queen is releasing on DVD and Blu-ray.
The African Queen is also available in Limited Edition Blu-ray: Commemorative Box Set. This package includes the movie presented in full frame, along with a book and CD.

Related home video titles:

Winning an Oscar in 1967 for her performance, Katharine Hepburn stars with her long time companion Spencer Tracey in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Known as an American classic, The African Queen has been referenced in recent films like George of the Jungle and The Majestic.