John Huston’s classic film had the unusual distinction of being the last film from the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list to appear on DVD in the United States, not bowing on that format until March of 2010, well into the Blu-ray/Netflix streaming era. You could find it overseas, but only if you had a “region-free” player, and those copies were made from prints that were, to be polite, pieces of mule dung. Yeah, you should have heard the less polite version of that sentence.
Having seen Paramount’s new release, on Blu-ray of course, I have to say it was worth waiting for the studio to sort out who had the rights to The African Queen, find a half-way decent copy, and then take the time to restore the film to something quite near its original glory.
Day two of my own little Robert Wise Film Festival
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a film that has, in some ways, outlived its reputation. It is certainly a cut above other films from “flying saucer” sub-genre of science fiction. An intelligent script, Robert Wise‘s capable direction and a better than average cast all combine to make this a high-quality production. The film’s only real weakness is that its message of “mankind had better learn to get along or else”, which was definitely bold for a film made during the anti-Communist witch hunts of the early 1950s, now seems like rather juvenile wish-fulfillment. The idea of advanced aliens coming down to solve our problems for us was an early staple of science fiction but is now a best-forgotten cliché.