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Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle

Posted January 07, 2011 to photo album "Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle"

Esca, the Celtic Slave, and Aquila, the Roman master, may appear an unlikely team in The Eagle, but the plot of enemies turned friends is a classic cinematic trope.

Slide 1: Roman/Celt
Slide 2: Apolitical/Collaborator | Casablanca (1942)
Slide 3: The Heiress/the Reporter | It Happened One Night (1934)
Slide 4: Sober/Drunk | The African Queen (1951)
Slide 5: Black/White | The Defiant Ones (1958)
Slide 6: Old/Young | True Grit (1969)
Slide 7: Cop/Crook | 48 Hours (1982)
Slide 8: Prisoner/Keeper | Midnight Run (1988)
Slide 9: Hippie/Straight Dude | Flashback (1990)
Slide 10: Finn/Russian | The Cuckoo (2002)
Slide 11: Old Man/Korean Kid | Gran Torino (2008)
Slide 4: Sober/Drunk | The African Queen (1951)

Slide 4: Sober/Drunk | The African Queen (1951)

Following Casablanca, here's another wartime movie set in Africa during a global conflict (this time World War I) and starring Humphrey Bogart, yet The African Queen is a radically different movie. Based on the novel by English author C.S. Forester (most famous for his Horatio Hornblower books), The African Queen stars Bogart as the gruff, alcoholic boat captain Charlie Allnut, a Canadian expat in German East Africa, while his foil is the prim, middle-aged English missionary Rose Sayer, played by Catherine Hepburn. Adversity, however, helps them not only overcome the chasm in class, nationality and manners, after they decide to take on the improbable task of navigating a series of treacherous rapids in the Allnut's aging boat, the African Queen, and then blowing up a pivotal German gunboat. Bogart as the grouchy bachelor unused to the company of women, and Hepburn, playing a missionary who is prim and proper but just as gutsy and capable as any man, give superb performances (Bogart won the Best Actor Oscar), and make us believe that these odd souls make sense as a team, and then as a romantic couple. Writing about the John Huston-directed movie in The New Yorker, Pauline Kael said that Bogart and Hepburn play together “with an ease and humor that makes their love affair – the mating of a forbidding, ironclad spinster and a tough, gin-soaked riverboat captain – seem not only inevitable, but perfect.”