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The Making of The African Queen, or: How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,857 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
Filled with laughter and personal insight into the making of the movie, many photographs.
Hardcover, 129 pages
Published August 12th 1987 by Knopf (first published January 1st 1987)
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La Petite Américaine
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-bios-etc
This book left me unexpectedly irritated.

Why? Because this isn't a book about the making of "The African Queen."

It's a book about whatever relationship Katharine Hepburn had with the film's director, John Huston.

I suppose I should back up a bit.

Katharine Hepburn is one of those celebrities I don't think I'll ever be able to figure out. She pings my gaydar like no other: she was an outspoken feminist who spent her life dressing like a boy, she never remarried after her divorce, she never had ch
Megan Reichelt
This is Katherine Hepburn's first book, and she doesn't give a fuck. She writes how she wants to write and does not care about any rules or style but her own. She writes how you expect her to speak, very stoccato, with trails of sentence fragments, often separated by dashes. She will describe a room by listing nouns: "Heat-- hotel-- French-speaking Belgians-- no panes of glass in windows-- porches-- high ceilings-- blinds-- mosquito nets over the beds-- painted cement floors-- dark, spare bathro ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an interesting life. Such an interesting person. I love reading her books, it's like you are having a conversation with her and you are her best friend. So warm, so dear.
Bogart: Katie, what's happened to you? You're a decent human being.
Hepburn: Not anymore I'm not. If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

The Making of the African Queen OR How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind (1987) by Katharine Hepburn is the actress's recollections of her great African adventure some thirty years after the fact. She tells us straight off that she never kept a diary, but later in life she often wished she had because "when you've l
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Ever since I learned that Kate Hepburn wrote about her experiences in Africa filming The African Queen, I’ve wanted to read it. It’s one of my favorite films and I love Forester’s novel.

Well, Kate’s book is certainly an experience. Her distinct voice is readily apparent in her writing. I think if you’ve ever seen her interview Katharine Hepburn: All About Me, you’d know what I mean—the way she tells a story… short brief sentences that are to the point, and the way she meanders from one thought t
Richard Nicholson
I'm into film, particularly the earlier years of the big studios,the influential eras such as French New Wave and American Independent of the 60/70's, the film making process and so on. As a result I find it hard not to pick up books that cover these genres and enjoy them. However I made a typical mistake in that I trusted an actor with the responsibility of writing the story. They may well be good story tellers on stage, but alas few are good on paper.

In this case Hepburn does a barely passable
Jill Hutchinson
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
How could you go wrong with Bogie, Katherine Hepburn, John Houston, and one of the classic films of all time gathered together in these pages. Hepburn, who writes as charmingly and as eccentrically as she acts, kept a diary of the making of The African Queen and it is delightful. Eccentric, funny, and full of pictures that I have never seen before, it puts you in the middle of the heat, the insects, and the free-flowing liquor of the location shooting. A great trip for the movie buff.
Richard Kramer
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book popped out of nowhere years ago, when KH was (obviously) still among us. The book is surprisingly charming,
contains no flinty Yankee wisdom or prescribed cold swims in the winter Atlantic, or swoons about Spence, Spence.
And every time I watch that movie, which is maybe once every five years, I like it even more.
Tim Ackerly
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's like going to visit your favorite aunt - who just happens to sound exactly like Katharine Hepburn - and you sit on the back patio with a glass of fresh lemonade and she tells you about a marvelous adventure she had back in the old days.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I have always been a fan of the movie "The African Queen" In 1987 Katharine Hepburn wrote a memoir of the making of The African Queen. This is a fun and interesting book to read. She describes what it is like filming this movie in 1950 with Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston. The heat, getting ill, living in a small hut. deep in the jungle. The Boat sank a couple times and they had to halt filming to bring it back up.I found this book great to read and learn more about what went on filming ...more
Aug 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I had to track this down in the farthest reaches of my library's new loan relationships. Thank you, Berkeley Public Library, wherever you are (probably in a place called Berkeley, IL). This book was such a . The publishers obviously and wisely didn't try one bit to reign in Hepburn's dash-heavy, diary-like style. It's so her, both la-di-dah and searingly insightful.

A typical passage:

"What’s the matter Bogie--you scared of a leech? Try one,” I said.

“You try it first, kid.”

Well, ugh. I just couldn
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it
The African Queen has long been a favorite film in our house, and this summer I read C.F. Forrester's novel of the same name. The natural extension read was Katharine Hepburn's memoir of making the film. This short book is conversational in tone, and Hepburn's distinctive voice rings in the readers' ears, writing in short spurts, sentence fragments, and asides. She shares comments (not always flattering) and anecdotes (often embarrassing) about director John Huston, co-star Humphrey Bogart (who ...more
Sara E.
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
As titled, this book gives some background to the making of The African Queen. The writing is fresh and blunt. I expect nothing less of our dear Ms. Hepburn. With the heat, rain, overwhelming sickness, prop malfunctions, and John Huston being... well... Huston, it's a wonder this film was ever finished!

The part I enjoyed most was where Katharine agrees with my opinion about the movie's ending. I had always thought it a bit terse and underdone, considering how painstakingly we struggle with those
I have a weakness for celebrity biographies. Since I spend so much of my time watching movies, actors hold a special fascination for me. This was a delightful little read by, in my opinion, one of the most charming and amazing women ever to grace Hollywood. I read her full autobiography last year and fell in love. She was charming and vivacious and didn't seem to ever take any crap from anyone. I cried at her entry that mourned the death of John Wayne and I laughed more times then I could count. ...more
Greg Z
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
If you really want to get to know Katharine Hepburn, but were not satisfied with her autobiography, "Me", then I highly recommend this story. Here, she tells a specific story in which she was a participant (as opposed to here-and-there thoughts within "Me") and for me she reveals much more of herself. And imagine, without the special effects in movies today, the entire crew actually traveled to Africa! They had a pretty rough time with eating and sleeping and illness and finding "bathrooms" and ...more
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
It was marvelous in that it truly expressed who she was. It was conversational and non-linear and I could almost hear her voice saying the words as I read them. It was fascinating to hear her insights about the other people she worked with and her experiences in Africa (some of which sound terrifying). She has a true gift for being able to describe and characterize a person with short sentences - she can just sum up the essence of a person.
Sep 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Katharine Hepburn's writing style is like Hemmingway on steroids. Lots of short, spiky sentences and thoughts all over the place.

But once you get used to that, the story was really nice. I liked the photos especially and marveled that the film ever actually got made, what with all of the setbacks, egos, and tropical diseases!
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Really fun to read. Reads like dictation, but in the best way. For example: "Oh, how Bogie hated that swimming--he froze. I swim all winter in Long Island Sound: ten degrees above zero and with a north wind blowing is my best record. One of my more irritating qualities. Why do I do it? I think to be irritating. Don't you? Why else?"
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: film, memoir, nonfiction, own
Katharine Hepburn was an interesting narrator. I must admit, it was very interesting looking through her eyes. At some points, she was very funny. I also found out that she was a daughter and sister of urologists. I guess her father's profession really intrigued her brother. I'm guessing it didn't particularly intrigue her, but it does affect her perception of some events.

Another thing.... at some points of the story, I really liked Katharine and at other points, I really disliked her.

The pictur
Michelle Ule
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a fun book by the opinionated, feisty actress who starred in the film just because she wanted to go to Africa!

Written 30 years ago and 30 years after the events, Hepburn defies writing rules and tells a personal tale of her whys, concerns, worries and ways of coping with the ridiculous situations director John Huston continually placed her and the picture in during the planning and filming.

I loved her references to her father (a urologist) worrying about his daughter, sending her to spe
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not sure I would really call this a book, more a collection of incredibly random notes Hepburn wrote down thirty years after filming The African Queen. The lack of structure and stream of consciousness throughout made it a bit hard to follow at times. All that being said, I found the stories quite interesting. It was fascinating getting to learn about Hepburn's experiences with Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and John Huston, among others, and to hear her recollections of the challenges they faced wh ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book gets 1 star solely for some amazing behind the scenes photos and a few funny anecdotes. I have never read a book that is completely stream of consciousness from beginning to end. There are no chapters or section breaks. You don't really get a feel for the filming of the movie because every anecdote seems so random. Where was the editor? Her style of writing was very hard to follow as well. At some points, there were no sentences, just a staccato series of adjectives. I think I learned ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short, in Ms. Hepburn's distinctive voice. Very funny and revealing of what goes on in the creation of what you see on screen. The subtitle is a trifle over-dramatic. She never seems close to losing her mind. Frustrated with Mr. Huston, the director, at first, but leaves one with the impression she really enjoyed the whole process and obviously became good friends with the director over the course of making the picture.
Enjoyable, with lots of wonderful pictures.
Regina Wisman
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Hepburn is not an accomplished author by any means, and at times the narrative is all over. Still a fascinating look into Hollywood in the 50s and a great behind the scenes on this movie. Amazing photos are definitely snapshots in time.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: movies, 2017
Slight, but interesting. Hepburn's personality comes through. There seem to be as many anecdotes involving finding a bathroom as there are about making The African Queen. Surprisingly that isn't a complaint.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. It has quite a few photos in it. I got a little bit tired of the choppy sentences that were just the way she talked in person. I enjoyed learning about filming the movie.
Leanne Storey
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Nov 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
I became interested in this book after watching "The African Queen" recently with my husband. This is a movie I have seen several times over the years and it is always good- I believe Bogart got an Academy Award for his performance.

We watched the making of the movie included in the special features and it was enough to make me want to know a bit more. In this book, it appeared that someone asked Hepburn questions and used a recording microphone to catch her answers and then transcribed them wor
Tyler Litton
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to better acquaint myself with one of my favorite childhood movies as well as one of my favorite directors. I'm a big fan of Hepburn and after reading the book found myself viewing her as a tragic hero, having fun adventures in Africa with Bogie and John, but coming home to an empty house, save for all the souvenirs. The book is sloppy and lacks focus, but I couldn't help but view her subjects and choice of words as evidently lonely, and I think she realized it. The book begins ...more
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very interesting, short read with fabulous accompanying photos. I really enjoyed Ms. Hepburn's account of her three months in Africa - she is clever, tough and has a terrific sense of humor. She describes in great detail the difficult conditions they worked under and recalls with great fondness her travel/acting companions. I especially love the way she describes Betty Bogart -

"I kept looking at her and looking at her. In the first place, she is young and she has lovely tawny skin and she has t
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Katharine Houghton Hepburn was an American actress of film, stage, and television. Known for her headstrong independence and spirited personality, Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned more than 60 years. She cultivated a screen persona that matched this public image, and regularly played strong-willed, sophisticated women. Her work came in a range of genres, from screwball comedy t ...more
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