Trivia and Proof
The African Queen, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year, was one of the first big films to receive a completion guarantee from Film Finances. The progress reports of its shooting still survive in the company’s archives. They offer the evidence that makes it possible to distinguish between fact and fiction, which is why Film Finances’ archive of production papers relating to thousands of independently financed films is such an extraordinary treasure.
According to the top “trivia” item for the movie on ImDb, “Sources claimed that everyone in the cast and crew got sick except Humphrey Bogart and John Huston, who said they avoided illness by essentially living on imported Scotch whisky. Bogart later said, ‘All I ate was baked beans, canned asparagus and Scotch whisky. Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead.’”
The progress report for day 41 on location offers some good supporting evidence. I hope that it will soon be possible to see all the production papers for The African Queen, as well as many other famous movies. Film Finances is in negotiations with King’s College London to make its pre-1980 historical archive publicly available.