The official word: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has unearthed the Holy Grail for fans of legendary comic Bob Hope and four-time Oscar®-winning actress Katharine Hepburn: The Iron Petticoat (1956). Unseen in the Western Hemisphere since 1966, this Cold War comedy is making its U.S. home video debut in a special limited-edition Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. In addition, TCM will present the U.S. television premiere of The Iron Petticoat on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. (ET).
TCM's Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of The Iron Petticoat is slated to be released as part of the TCM Vault Collection on Monday, Nov. 19. It will be sold exclusively through TCM's online store at http://shop.tcm.com. This marks the first time the film has been released on home video in any format in the United States. Only a limited number of discs will be made available, so fans are encouraged to pre-order the movie through the store.
For its premiere on TCM and U.S. home-video debut, The Iron Petticoat has been fully remastered and restored to its VistaVision glory. The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack features an introduction by TCM's Robert Osborne and extensive on-screen digital bonus materials, including production stills, behind-the-scenes photos, lobby cards, movie posters and more.
The Iron Petticoat marked Hepburn and Hope's first – and last – on-screen collaboration. The movie casts Hepburn as a female Soviet jet pilot and Hope as the Air Force officer charged with turning the diehard communist into a patriotic capitalist. The Iron Petticoat is being made available through arrangements with Hope Enterprises, which controls the Western Hemisphere rights to the film.
Retired film critic Roger Fristoe has written an extensive essay chronicling The Iron Petticoat's rocky production history. The article – located at http://on.tcm.com/2MspIk – tells of how the film's troubles began early on, when Hope brought in his own writers to rework Ben Hecht's screenplay. The changes Hope made to Hecht's original vision eventually boiled over into an open-letter war in the trades, with Hecht demanding that his name be removed from the credits and Hope offering a snappy comeback.
After the premiere of The Iron Petticoat in Europe, its running time was trimmed for MGM's U.S. release. (TCM's edition of the film restores it to the original British running time.) After a poor showing at the box office, the movie remained with MGM until 1966, when all the negatives and copies were turned over to Hope. The movie has not been screened publicly in the Western Hemisphere since 1966.
Despite the off-screen problems, The Iron Petticoat holds up as a smart and funny Cold War romantic comedy. It also provides a rare chance to see two very different Hollywood icons in their one-and-only on-screen pairing.