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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - May, 2010

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"The African Queen" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

The African Queen

Synopsis

The time setting is WW-I, and the place is Africa. Rose Sayer (Hepburn) and her brother Rev. Samuel Sayer (Morley) are missionaries in a village. When German soldiers burn the village to the ground, Samuel has a heart attack and dies. A local riverboat captain, Charlie Allnut (Bogart), helps her bury her brother, and then, together, they head down river, with the intention of sinking a German warship, the Louisa (it's not really much of a warship, but just the same, they want to send it to hell). The plan is to turn Charlie's boat, The African Queen, into a warship itself, by making two torpedoes out of oxygen tanks filled with explosives, and ram the Louisa when they reach the lake.

As personalities, the two could not be any more different. Rose does not care for Charlie's drinking, and Charlie does not care for her prim manners.

But of course, as any physicist knows, opposites attract, and on their way to blow up the warship, they fall in love.

 

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 1951, Color, Not Rated, 1 Hr 45 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec:  Not Specified
  • English 2.0 DD
  • Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Robert Morley, Peter Bull
  • Directed by John Huston
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This movie is one of Hollywood's best. Bogie won Best Actor, and it was nominate for four other Academy Awards, including Hepburn for Best Actress, and Huston for Best Director.

Technical

Those were the days when Technicolor was used to shoot color movies. The process involved a camera with three rolls of black & white film that were exposed simultaneously, and the light from the lens passed through color filters onto each of the three film rolls. Producing the final color release involved passing different colored light through the three camera negatives onto a single roll of color film. It was a way of having complete control over the color balance in the final release print. As a result, now more than half a century later, the restoration is made much easier by taking those three camera negatives and rebalancing the color of the final print, taking into account any fading of the black & white negatives.

Besides taking great care in the color restoration, technicians removed all the pops and hiss from the old sound track. For most of us, we will watch this wonderful classic in the highest quality we have ever seen it (it has been shown on TV many, many times, but never in high definition, and not with all the restoration that was done for this version).

Extras

The only extra is The Making of.