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Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of "The African Queen," 1951.
Not published in LIFE. Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of The African Queen, 1951.Eliot Elisofon—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of "The African Queen," 1951.
Katharine Hepburn, 1951
Humphrey Bogart's wife Lauren Bacall kept him company during production; here, the couple enjoys a smoke with an unidentified woman.
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of "The African Queen," 1951.
Director John Huston and Humphrey Bogart during filming of The African Queen, 1951.
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of "The African Queen," 1951.
"Off to work goes Hepburn, leaving the private bungalow which she decorated charmingly with native spears and flowers."
Director John Huston examines one of his rifles during filming of The African Queen, 1951.
Katharine Hepburn gives her hair its nightly wash on the set of The African Queen, with the help of Sonduco, a production employee.
A deeply amused Humphrey Bogart on location in Africa for the filming of The African Queen.
Katharine Hepburn allows LIFE's Eliot Elisofon inside her private bungalow during filming of The African Queen.
Humphrey Bogart's beard gets a touch-up during filming of The African Queen.
"Katharine Hepburn adjusts her costume before a full-length mirror which was soon broken. Other vexations: mildew on skirts, ants in her petticoats."
Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston joined on the set by Lauren Bacall and crew members during filming of The African Queen.
Swimming in the river during filming of The African Queen.
A view of the rig necessary to allow filming of Charlie Allnut's boat on the river in The African Queen.
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of "The African Queen," 1951.
Chief cameraman Jack Cardiff and producer Sam Spiegel discuss technical specifications during filming of The African Queen. Spiegel went on to produce 1962's Lawrence of Arabia, which won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of "The African Queen," 1951.
Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of The African Queen, 1951.
A man beats a hollow log with sticks -- the daily 6 a.m. wakeup call for cast and crew of The African Queen.
Katharine Hepburn enjoys a moment away from the filming of The African Queen.
A local resident tends to the wardrobe for Katharine Hepburn on location for The African Queen.
Lauren Bacall makes sandwiches while surrounded by her husband and the crew during a lunch break on location for The African Queen.
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of "The African Queen," 1951.
"At siesta time after lunch everybody took it easy. Director Huston (right) fished doggedly with technician Kevin McClory, never caught a thing."
"Bogart snoozes in a hammock under makeshift shelter on an equipment raft. He never had to study lines, learned them after two or three readings."
Katharine Hepburn, her face concealed by her massive hat, puts up her feet. "After siesta," LIFE reported, "everybody worked in broiling sun until 6:30."
Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of The African Queen, 1951.
Not published in LIFE. Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on location in Africa for the filming of The African Queen,
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Eliot Elisofon—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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LIFE With Hepburn and Bogart: Rare Photos From the Filming of 'The African Queen'

May 28, 2013

In 1951, two of the world's most beloved — and highest paid — movie stars, Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, followed director John Huston to a most un-Hollywood location: the sweltering jungle around the Ruki River, in the Belgian Congo (today known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo). There, they spent seven weeks filming a WWI-era romantic-comedy-adventure film about a hard-drinking riverboat captain, Charlie Allnut (Bogart), and his burgeoning love affair with a prim Christian missionary, Rose Sayer (Hepburn).

Photographer Eliot Elisofon was there, too, capturing the stars and crew between takes on the arduous shoot. Here, on the 10th anniversary of Hepburn's June 29, 2003, death at the age of 96, LIFE.com pays tribute to the four-time Best Actress Oscar winner with a series of photos — many of which never ran in LIFE magazine — offering a glimpse inside the making of The African Queen.

[MORE: See the LIFE feature, "In Praise of Sitting in the Dark With Strangers."]

The shoot was often a grueling experience for the crew, particularly Hepburn, who suffered from dysentery caused by contaminated water. (She refused to let it affect her work and never missed a day of filming, despite the punishing schedule of what LIFE magazine called "dawn-to-dusk labor.")

For his part, Bogart — like his character, Captain Allnut — liked to drink, and he tossed 'em back throughout the production. (Hepburn later affectionately referred to Bogie and hard-partying director John Huston as "two drunks.") Unlike Hepburn and much of the crew, both Bogart and Huston remained healthy throughout the shoot — probably because they drank far more booze than water.

In the end, the movie proved to be one of Bogart's and Huston's most enduring and fruitful collaborations — which is saying something, considering they worked together on other undisputed classics like Key Largo, The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Hepburn received a Best Actress Oscar nomination — her fifth — while Bogart's utterly engaging performance as the cynical drunkard with a heart of gold earned him the only Academy Award of his storied career.

[MORE: See the gallery, "Marilyn Monroe in ’49: Early Photos of a Superstar in Training."]

[MORE: See the gallery, "Alfred Hitchcock ‘Directs’ a LIFE Picture Story, 1942."]

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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