Hatari! is an ambitious undertaking. Its cast is an international one, populated by players of many countries. Its wild animals do not come charging out of dusty stock footage studio libraries but have been photographed while beating around the bush of Tanganyika, East Africa. However, in this instance, the strapping physique of the film unhappily emphasizes the anemic condition of the story streaming within.

Hatari! is an ambitious undertaking. Its cast is an international one, populated by players of many countries. Its wild animals do not come charging out of dusty stock footage studio libraries but have been photographed while beating around the bush of Tanganyika, East Africa. However, in this instance, the strapping physique of the film unhappily emphasizes the anemic condition of the story streaming within.

Leigh Brackett’s screenplay, from an original story by Harry Kurnitz, describes at exhaustive length the methods by which a group of game catchers in Tanganyika go about catching wild animals for the zoo when not occupied at catching each other for the woo. Script lacks momentum. It never really advances toward a story goal.

John Wayne heads the colorful cast assembled for this zoological field trip. The vet star plays with his customary effortless (or so it seems) authority a role with which he is identified; the good-natured, but hard-drinking, hot-tempered, big Irishman who ‘thinks women are trouble’ in a man’s world.

Germany’s Hardy Kruger and French actor Gerard Blain manage, resourcefully, to pump what vigor they can muster into a pair of undernourished roles. Red Buttons and Elsa Martinelli emerge the histrionic stickouts, Buttons with a jovial portrayal of an excabbie who ‘just pretends it’s rush hour in Brooklyn’ as he jockeys his vehicle through a pack of frightened giraffe, Martinelli as a sweet but spirited shutterbug and part time pachydermatologist.

1962: Nomination: Best Color Cinematography

Hatari!

Production

Paramount. Dir Howard Hawks; Producer Howard Hawks; Screenplay Leigh Brackett; Camera Russell Harlan; Editor Stuart Gilmore; Music Henry Mancini Art Dir Hal Pereira, Carl Anderson

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1962. Running time: 159 MIN.

With

John Wayne Hardy Kruger Elsa Martinelli Gerard Blain Red Buttons Michele Girardon
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