Set in German East Africa at the beginning of World War I this magnificent comedy tells the tale of an unlikely romance between Rose Sayer, a prim and priggish missionary (Hepburn) and Charlie Allnut, a booze-soaked mailboat skipper (Bogart) who ferries supplies in his old steamer, the African Queen.
The adventure-filled movie has the pair bringing the rusty old mail boat down the Congo river in German East Africa – a river infested with leeches, reeds and rapids – to pursue a German gunboat.
Opposites attract when the starch-skirt British missionary and coarse, gin-guzzling Canadian river-trader are thrown together on the boat.
Bogie picked up the Best Actor Academy Award (his only Oscar) for his portrayal of skipper Charlie Allnut, beating Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.
The picture brought Hepburn a fifth Oscar nomination for her role – even though she contracted dysentery during filming, which held up her scenes.
Nominations also went to director John Huston and screenwriter James Agee who adapted the novel by CS Forester.
Huston insisted the film be shot on location – a style of shooting that was by no means as common then as it is now – on the Ruiki river in the then Belgian Congo, maintaining that this was the only way to invest authenticity and believability into the couple’s tribulations and growing romance.
It had originally been planned for David Niven to play the role of Charlie Allnut.