“The African Queen” finally comes to DVD!

posted by efriedmann on March 2, 2010 at 9:50 am

John Huston’s “The African Queen” (1951), starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn shall finally be released on U.S. Region 1 DVD on March 23, 2010. For many years, this was the only film on the American Film Institute’s original Top 100 List that had not been released on DVD.

This, of course, is great news for fans of the film, as well as Bogey and Kate. But as I rejoice in the news and prepare to open my wallet for the inevitable purchase, I also find myself asking, “What about the rest of them?”

The rest of them – you know, the other essential film classics that still have yet to see the light of DVD. Classic titles like “Wings” (silent), “The Crowd” (silent), “The Island of Lost Souls”, “The Magnificent Ambersons” and “A Guy Named Joe” have, to this day, still gotten no further than American-made VHS tape (that’s probably why I still own those films in that now-ancient format).

Perhaps someone out there who knows more about the politics of film and DVD release can explain to my why it seems to take so long for some films to get their deserved DVD release. The fans of so many yet-to-be-released films just sit around and wait…and wait…and wait…and wait…

Anyway, for right now, we lovers of “The African Queen” whole-heartedly say, “It’s about time!”

Comments (14)

kencmcintyre on March 2, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I remember the Magnificent Ambersons always being in the $9 bin at the video store. I think the copyright lapsed.

efriedmann on March 3, 2010 at 7:39 am

I had to search around to find VHS copies of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, A GUY NAMED JOE and THE ISLAND OF LOST SOULS on Amazon in very good condition. It took some time, but I finally got them all.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 3, 2010 at 9:33 am

I haven’t seen The African Queen yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m saving it for the big screen.

nhu on March 3, 2010 at 11:11 am

The “Magnificent Ambersons” is always on Warner Brothers “next year” release list. It is due on DVD in 2010 but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.

There is also a long involved story about “lost footage” from this film. Since the “lost footage” was by all accounts intentionally destroyed by RKO 60 years ago, I doubt that it has turned up in someone’s attic and will be part of the eventual DVD release. The real problem si that sales of classic movies on DVD have dropped and movies like Ambersons just have to wait until Warner has the money and resources to do a good restoration.

moviebuff82 on March 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm

great movie. I remember seeing it on vhs at my relative’s house and liked the film.

ChrisWillman on March 3, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Not true that “Magnificent Ambersons” was only released on VHS, as I have the Criterion laserdisc, which is highly collectible.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on March 3, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I thought this news release was about THE AFRICAN QUEEN ?…

Anyhow, can someone enlighten me as to why it was shot in England ?

CSWalczak on March 7, 2010 at 3:02 am

Most likely because it was made by Horizon Pictures, which was a UK-based motion picture production company headed by Sam Spiegel; it also made “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Nicholas and Alexandra,” among others.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on March 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Many thanks “CW."
Yes, I’m sure many movies were shot in England but got a US label.

CSWalczak on March 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm

The US label, as in the case, of this film was United Artists with which Horizon (which, as is the case many independent producers today, had no distribution arm) made a distribution deal. Many UA films of the era were the result of similar arrangements. (Most of Horizon’s later products were distributed by Columbia) These distribution agreements between producers and US studios with distribution arms made in the era before home video (on any media) sometimes explains why it takes so long for some older films to come out on DVD, especially if the production company was dissolved before the necessary legalities over film ownership and DVD distribution are completed. When all this is straightened out, it is sometimes surprising who ends up with DVD distribution rights (which vary in length and marketing territory) – this new DVD is being distributed (at least in US) by Paramount’s home DVD division. I am sure today, DVD distribution is built into production and distribution agreements before the cameras even roll.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on March 11, 2010 at 12:50 am

It’s all a bit confusing when you realize the many control implications of this ‘distribution" subject. Thanks again!

irishcine on March 18, 2010 at 4:13 am

Well worth reading is a book by Natasha Fraser-Gordon on Sam Spiegel, sometimes SP Eagle, and his involvement with “The African Queen” as well as many other classics. It helps to explain the distribution complexities as well as being a very entertaining story of a mogul for whom the phrase “larger than life” is a distinct understatement!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm

What about “THE HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS” being released with this vampire craze,with the right ads it would be a money maker.

TLSLOEWS on April 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm

No matinees they only come out at night.

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