by Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn had misgivings about filming The African Queen because she thought the script (by revered writer James Agee) was terrible. But she took the job because she had always wanted to go to Africa, and we, of course, are glad she did. The subtitle of this happy reminiscence is Howl Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind. That's a joke. Hepburn had a splendid time. Looking back nearly 40 years, the indomitable actress, at 77, is both perceptive and candid. "I have a reputation for being highly intellectual—something about my manner and the shape of my face.... Actually I am quick, but not much memory and not really well-informed." Bacall and Bogart, Hepburn found, "seemed to have the most enormous opinion of each other's charms, and when they fought, it was with the utter confidence of two cats locked deliciously in the same cage." After some initial problems with the eccentric, heavy-drinking John Huston, Hepburn admits that after the first day's shooting, he quietly gave her the best advice she ever got from a director: to think of the former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as she played the role of a missionary's sister. This book, which includes 45 superb photographs by Eliot Elisofon, is full of Hepburn's energy and her pleasure in recalling one of the great experiences of her life. The prose is so breathless and gushing that it reads as if the woman herself actually wrote it. Her publisher says she did. (Knopf, $15.95)

  • Contributors:
  • Eric Levin,
  • Campbell Geeslin,
  • Harriet Shapiro.