African Queen, The: John Huston’s Classic Restored

Filled with adventure, drama, humor and romance, the enduring cinematic classic THE AFRICAN QUEEN will finally make its way home when it debuts on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time ever on March 23, 2010 from Paramount Home Entertainment. 
Restored using state-of-the-art 4K digital technology, THE AFRICAN QUEEN will be available for a new generation to appreciate and for long-time fans to see again.  Director John Huston’s treasured romantic adventure stars the incomparable Humphrey Bogart as hard-drinking boat captain Charlie Allnut—a role that won him his only Oscar Award (Best Actor, 1951)and Katharine Hepburn as missionary Rose Sayer in a tale of two disparate people thrown together by fate and drawn together by love.
A six-year journey filled with challenges nearly as difficult as those faced by Rose and Charlie, the restoration process began at the source: Romulus Films—one of the film’s original production companies—provided access to the original three-strip negative at a London facility where the film was carefully scanned and digitized.  The separate elements were then transferred to Los Angeles and painstakingly recombined and inspected frame by frame to ensure that every detail aligned and that any dirt and scratches were removed.

To ensure that the restored picture matched the filmmakers’ original vision, Paramount arranged a screening of an MPAA archive print for the film’s original cinematographer, Academy Award® winner Jack Cardiff*, whose comments were recorded live during the screening.  That same archival print was later screened alongside the newly restored version so that the restoration team could ensure that all of Cardiff’s notes had been addressed.  The result is a vibrant, warm picture that reverentially recreates the film as it was originally meant to be seen.

THE AFRICAN QUEEN will be available as a single disc DVD or Blu-ray and also in Commemorative, Limited Edition DVD or Blu-ray box sets.  Both the DVD and Blu-ray feature a new documentary entitled “Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen”, which includes new interviews with contemporary film experts such as Martin Scorsese and incorporates home movies, archival images and more.  The Commemorative box set includes either the DVD or Blu-ray detailed above, plus an audio disc with a recording of the Lux Radio Theater broadcast of The African Queen, a reproduction of Katharine Hepburn’s out-of-print memoir The Making of The African Queen or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind, a Senitype film frame collectible reproduction and postcards featuring reproductions of images related to the film.

THE AFRICAN QUEEN DVD & Blu-ray

 

THE AFRICAN QUEEN DVD is presented in full screen format with English, French and Spanish Mono and English, French and Spanish subtitles.  The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition with English, French and Spanish Mono and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. Special features are as follows:
  • Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen—This comprehensive documentary takes a look back at the production with commentary about the cast, the challenges of the filming locations and how the spectacular cinematography impacted the industry overall. Includes on-camera interviews with notable Hollywood icons, critics and crew members from the film including Martin Scorsese, Tony Huston, Richard Schickel and more, plus never-before-seen archival images and home movie footage provided by the estate of cinematographer Jack Cardiff.
The Commemorative, Limited-Edition DVD and Blu-ray box sets include the above along with:
  • An audio disc with a recording of the Lux Radio Theater presents The African Queen radio broadcast
  • A Senitype® film frame collectible reproduction
  • Collectible postcards featuring reproductions of images related to the film
  • A reproduction of Katharine Hepburn’s out-of-print memoir The Making of The African Queen or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind
Film Review

UA (Horizon)

One of the most admired pictures in American film history, “The African Queen” boasts great performances by Humphrey Bogart (who won his only Best Actor Oscar for that film) and Katharine Hepburn, who was nominated, but didn’t win.
Though many critics admire this 1951 John Huston picture, which continues to make best lists, it’s not one of my favorite Huston, Bogart, or Hepburn works. Mixing adventure, romance, humor, and awesome imagery of exotic locales, “The African Queen” is admittedly entertaining, due to critic James Agee’s sharply intelligent scenario, based on the novel by C.S. Forester, and superlative iconic performances of the two stars, in their only picture together.
The reviewer of Time magazine put it best, when he noted: “The movie is not great art, but it is great fun, essentially one long, exciting old-fashioned movie chase.”
In German East Africa, during the early days of the First World War, German soldiers burn a native village, destroying the church and causing the death of Reverend Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley). The missionary sister, Rose (Hepburn) is offered a sanctuary by Charlie Allnut (Bogart), a gin-swilling riverboat pilot, who proposes to sit out the war in the backwaters. But Rose suggests a more audacious plan, namely, to go downriver and tryto sink a German gunboat commanding the area, which block British invasion.
Allnut’s initial reaction to Rose’s bold if not crazy scheme: “Lady, you got ten absurd ideas for my one.”
Rose handles the tiller of the riverboat, named the African Queen, and helps take it down the perilous rapids, past a well-armed German fort at Shona into a peaceful cove. For three days, they hide in reeds. Allnut creates two torpedoes from oxygen cylinders and blasting gelatine, and then attaches them to the launch.
The African Queen is swamped in a gale and the couple are hauled aboard the gunboat and sentenced to hang. Allnut asks the Captain (Peter Bull) to marry them first. “I shall hang you twice, I think,” the Captain of the Louisa says, exasperated with Allnut. 
As the ceremony ends, the ship runs into the launch and blows up. Thrown together into the water, Rose and Allnut begin a long swim to the shore.
Shot in the Belgian Congo and Uganda, the movie was rich in pictorial beauty, accentuated by Technicolor. The critics marveled at the notion of an adult romance about mature characters, disregarding the fact that for most of the narrative there are only two individuals on screen.
But what individuals they were! In the first scenes, Hepburn is quite funny as Rose is fluttery and airy, and you have to giggle when this old maid shows anxiety about bathing in front of an outlandish man like Allnut. Bogart, in what became his Oscar-wining role, excelled as the badgered Canadian, an initially dirty but amiable ne’er-do-well who becomes a man and a lover against his will—almost despite himself.
Seeing the film again, I think the scenario favors Bogart with many witty lines of dialogue and humorous, self-referential monologues. Drunk and having lost his temper, he charges at Rose: “I asked you on board ’cause’ I was sorry for you on account of your losing your brother and all. That’s what you get for feeling sorry for someone. Well, I ain’t sorry no more, you crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid!”
 
Oscar Nominations: 4
Actor: Humphrey Bogart
Actress: Katharine Hepburn
Director: John Huston
Screenplay: John Agee and John Huston
Oscar Awards: 1
Actor
Oscar Context
Cast
Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart)
Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn)
Reverend Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley)
Captain of the Louisa (Peter Bull)
First Officer of the Louisa (Theodore Bikel)
Second Officer (Walter Gotell)
Petty Officer (Gerlad Onn)
First Officer of the Shona (Peter Swanwick)
Second Officer (Richard Marner)
 
Credits
Produced by S.P. Eagle (Sam Spiegel)
Directed by John Huston.
Screenplay: James Agee and Huston, based on the novel by C. S. Forester.
Cinematographer: Jack Cardiff.
Music: Alan Gray, played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Norman Del Mar.
Film Editing: Ralph Kemplen
Art Director: Wilfred Shingleton.

Running time: 105 Minutes.