One of the most notable films never to make it to DVD in the U.S. will make its debut on March 23: The African Queen. A thorny action romance between a hard-drinking boat captain (Humphrey Bogart) and a missionary (Katherine Hepburn), The African Queen hasn't been seen here in any home-video format since the VHS era. Why? Paramount's press release doesn't offer much in the way of explanation but rights issues played a part. Also, it sounds like the movie was in pretty rough shape:
A six-year journey filled with challenges nearly as difficult as those faced by [the film's protagonist's] 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.
Also involved in the process, the film's original cinematographer, the late, great, Jack Cardiff, who offered suggestions at a specially arranged screening.
Fans will have their choice of formats now; the film will also roll out on Blu-Ray and both DVD and Blu-Ray versions will also be available as "Commemorative, LImited Edition" box sets, which sound kind of neat. Both feature a radio production of the same story and Hepburn's out-of-print memoir of the film's famously difficult production: The Making Of The African Queen, Or How I Went To Africa With Bogart, Bacall And Huston And Almost Lost My Mind.