Эссе: Critical Essay by James R. Fultz

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... Both were enthusiastic about bringing to the screen C. S. Forester's 1935 novel about a proper English lady missionary and an alcoholic Cockney river-boat captain who, early in World War I, sail down an African river with the idea of sinking with home-made torpedoes a German gunboat, on patrol in a lower lake. In the fall of 1950, after a summer of working on the script, Agee joined Huston in California. There, he continued to doctor the script while his host finished filming The Red Badge of Courage. Agee worked on the set during the days, wrote far into the nights, and played tennis with Huston early in the mornings. The strain of overwork and physical abuse led to three heart attacks in as many days in January 1951. It was one of the great disappointments of his life that he was not able to accompany Huston and his crew to Africa for the filming of The African Queen a month later; by that time, the script was all but finished.2 It is difficult to say exactly what in the published version of the script is Agee's, since he collaborated with Huston and several others, as it turned out. Peter Viertel went to Africa to polish the dialogue and work on the ending, and John Collier also had a hand in it,3 but neither Viertel nor Collier received screen credit. Agee once indicated, in a letter to David Bradley, that, of the 160-page first draft, the first 100 pages were his "and brought it through almost exactly half the story. The last 60, except a few scenes and interpolations, were Huston's; but the playing-time worked out that his 60 and my 100 amounted to about the same."4 Agee's contribution to the second half of the script is suggested by a 110-page fragmentary rough draft in his cramped handwriting. This draft shows that he rewrote certain scenes and snatches of scenes a number of times, but it is not clear that the credit belongs wholly to him, or that the scenes form his entire contribution to the second half. In the most detailed scene, the African Queen, trapped by mud and weeds, is set afloat by torrential rains.5 This scene appears in the published script,6 but is truncated and changed in the film. Along with the other scenes, it will be discussed in a later section on additions, deletions, and modifications from novel to script to film. Certainly the first half of the published script is much more detailed than the second half in its description of character, setting, light, sound, and movement. Two parallel scenes, one occurring in the first half, the other in the second, suggest the difference in the working methods of Agee and Huston. ...