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Tag Archives: The African Queen

30 Before 30: Watch “The African Queen”

30 Dec

In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 30 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

This is the first Christmas I have ever spent in New York City. I don’t have family here, so I instead spent the day with a couple of friends. In the afternoon we went to the IFC center to see “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It felt like a very New York City Christmas-y thing to do, and I had only seen the movie once before, so watching it again felt new to me.

Overall, it was great. But I had one major hang-up that bothered me. The whole montage of what the world was like without George Bailey in it. Sad, horrible things. His brother is dead. His uncle is in an insane asylum. Some of his friends are homeless. But the climax of this scene is what happened to his wife, Mary, if he had never been born. She NEVER MARRIED. Tragically, she ended up a librarian instead. This is the worst fate. Worse than the dead, the insane, the destitute. God forbid a woman not marry.

I tried to enjoy the rest of the movie, but I sat stewing over Mary’s fate. Maybe she was happier not being married! She could have married Sam if she wanted to! Maybe she LOVES her library job! She’s only in her early 30’s, that does not an old maid make! These thoughts sat with me for the rest of the weekend. I understand the movie was made in a different time for women, but it wasn’t that long ago.

So Sunday night, I watched “The African Queen.” The story of a missionary (Katherine Hepburn) in Africa in the early 1900’s. The German army burns down the village where she is living whilst her preacher brother dies. She has no choice but to join up with a riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) to head down the river to another life. Obviously they fall in love, and what a romantic little boat ride they have. Leeches, mosquitoes, rainstorms. Somehow it is romantic though. And Hepburn’s character discovers the strength and the bravado inside herself. She comes up with a plan to navigate the boat through white water rapids, build homemade torpedoes, and ram them into a German ship in an effort to exact some revenge. She’s a fucking badass.

I loved the romance that evolves. I loved the odd couple that Hepburn and Bogart make. I loved that old-movie, quick-talking dialogue. But I kept thinking about poor old maid Mary from the “It’s a Wonderful Life” alternate universe. That Mary would have been in her mid-30s. The Hepburn character was in her mid-40s. It gave me comfort to know that old maid Mary wasn’t done for. She could still end up in Africa. She could still find love in Humphrey Bogart. And let’s face it. As much as we all love Jimmy Stewart, Bogart would be so much more fun to date and obviously be better in bed. I love Katherine Hepburn. I love how stubborn and strong and confident she played her characters. I love that during a dark time for women, she existed and she fought to play these kind of women. She was a fucking badass.

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