With Bogart On The African Queen

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by Leonard Maltin
May 9, 2013 3:17 AM
7 Comments
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Last week I got to sail on the actual African Queen with Bogart—Stephen Bogart, that is. The occasion was the first annual Humphrey Bogart Film Festival, held in Key Largo, Florida, the setting of the 1948 Bogart-Bacall picture Key Largo. My sailing companion was Stephen Humphrey Bogart, the famous couple’s son, who hosted the festival. Much like the TCM Classic Film Festival one week earlier, this event drew movie buffs from all over the country—along with two avid fans from Sydney, Australia—to watch vintage films on a big screen, even outdoors at night, and to meet Stephen, as well as Jack Huston, the grandson of Bogie’s friend and collaborator John Huston.

Here is the 16mm camera that shot the Bogart home movies we’ve seen in recent years; the case bears his initials H.D.B. (Humphrey DeForest Bogart).

Stephen has worked in television news most of his career and now hosts a movie review show called Bogart on Movies on WXEL, the public broadcasting station in Palm Beach, Florida, near his home. He was eight when his famous father died, but he has vivid memories of sailing with him on his dad’s famous yacht, Santana, and interesting observations about show business, having grown up in London and New York with Bacall and her second husband, Jason Robards, Jr.

Fans were especially taken with some of the personal memorabilia Stephen brought along, including Bogie’s home-movie camera in its monogrammed leather case, a pair of sailboat cufflinks, a money clip from the 21 Club, and even a letter from President Harry Truman.

The African Queen is moored at Key Largo and takes tourists sailing on a daily basis. It was purchased and moved from Africa to Florida some years ago, where it sat rotting until concerned people became involved and had it lovingly restored. Now, skipper Lance Holmquist presides over the modest-sized boat, which looks just as it did onscreen, with a steam whistle, a bell in the back, and a replica case of Gordon’s Gin up front. If you love the movie it’s impossible to be blasé about setting out on the water on this famous vessel. You can see a very brief video of our sail HERE.


Stephen Bogart, his daughter Brooke, and Jack Huston at the Casablanca Ball.

On closing night we attended the Casablanca Ball, where my wife and I had the pleasure of sitting with Jack Huston. This handsome and charming actor has made a splash on Boardwalk Empire and is currently filming a new feature for David O. Russell. He was raised in England and was only five when his famous grandfather died, but he is devoted to his family heritage and history. That’s what brought him to Florida, where he made a gracious speech and explained that he learned about his grandfather from watching his movies.

We also got to meet Stephen Bogart’s daughter Brooke, who bears a striking resemblance to her grandmother, Lauren Bacall. There’s no getting around genetics, is there?

For a first-time effort, I think the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival ran quite well, with very few glitches. Much of the credit goes to Suzanne Holmquist, who kept her cool while tracking multiple events every day in a variety of locations. Robbert De Klerk and Russell Yagel, who manage the Bogart estate, should be proud of what they and their partners, including Michael Crain, pulled off here. I heard many people say they were already looking forward to a return visit next year. You can learn more at: humphreybogart.com

Original artwork for a Time magazine cover of Bogart from the 1950s

Skipper Lance Holmquist aboard the African Queen; his wife Suzanne presided over the festival

 

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7 Comments

  • Roy Atkinson | June 5, 2013 3:56 PMReply

    The picture of the artwork from Time magazine's 1950s cover story on Bogart, reminds me that the story's writer, Ezra Goodman,used his experiences with Bogart in a fascinating--still worth reading--1961 book, "The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood". Goodman leaves the impression that Bogart could be both a character and an interesting observer of Hollywood.

  • Judy | May 19, 2013 8:42 PMReply

    I HATE that I had to miss this because I adore Bogart and would have loved to have been among others who do, too. When I was in high school in NYC - this goes back to 1969 or 1970 - the Queen was brought to the annual boat show at the Coliseum (long gone from the scene in Columbus Circle) and I went to the show specifically to see it. As I approached the area where it was on display, I got an actual lump in my throat and my heart raced - just as if I'd had a shot of Charlie's gin. So I can I totally relate to Mr. Maltin's comment about how impossible it was for him to be blase as he set out on the water in the old Queen. It is a movie for the ages with two - make that three - magnificent stars (Bogart, Hepburn, and The African Queen!

  • Jeremy Arnold | May 12, 2013 3:54 PMReply

    Nice piece, Leonard! Thanks for sharing. Looks like a great time.

  • Cindee Sirgany | May 10, 2013 8:48 AMReply

    It truly was a Great weekend. And I really enjoyed the discussion with you and Stephen. In addition to the information and memories, you two were very entertaining. It was almost like Abbot and Castillo! Or, at least, you were Stephen's 'straight man'. It was great.
    A job well done. I will definitely be back next year!
    And Thank You for the book signing.

  • William Dobbs | May 9, 2013 5:49 PMReply

    Dear Leonard,
    I wanted to add that I greatly enjoy reading your film reviews, and have purchased all of your movie guides over the decades! You are a gifted movie critic, and have always been
    my favorite authority on motion pictures. Keep up the GREAT work!!!

  • William Dobbs | May 9, 2013 5:37 PMReply

    Leonard,
    That was truly the experience of a lifetime! Humphrey Bogart is my favorite male star. We lost him too early. Like Stephen Bogart, I too lost a parent to cancer when I was young. I miss my mom very much. I would love to attend the next Bogart Film Festival. I am disabled, but will attempt to do anything to get there! My mom raised me with the
    introduction of Bogart & Bacall films when I was young. I NEVER ger tired of watching them. I have a dedicated theater room with a 16 foot wide screen. Bogie always looks great on the big screen!

  • Kristine | May 9, 2013 4:55 PMReply

    "The African Queen" is one of my favorite movies. Leonard, I enjoyed reading the story.

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