HATARI! Means danger in Swahili and that is what this movie is all about. Directed by Howard Hawks, Hatari! gives us a glance into the life of big game hunters. All shot on location in Tanganyika, this film is about animal capture for zoos. If you are a big wild life fan and won’t eat meat this film my not be to your liking but I love it. Hawks has said a couple of times that he felt the film had no real substance to it so he has never really taken any offence to the film being canned however I disagree. It is a great action flick.
John Wayne plays Sean Mercer, a macho game hunter. With his vagabond testosterone crew they hunt the African landscape for zoos around he world. Alongside Wayne, Red Buttons plays the charming quirky Pockets. Bruce Cabot is known as Indian, Kurt Muller is played by Hardy Kruger. The fast shot Chips is played by Gerard Blain and the ever handsome Luis is played by Valentine De Vargas. Mixed into this manly crew is the beautiful Elsa Martinelli who is Wayne’s love interest, she’s called Dallas. The head of the whole crew is the very apt, also lovely, Brandy who is Michele Girardon. As the boss she becomes the owner of the company after her father is killed trying to capture the dangerous rhino. Brandy makes them all partners and this colorful ‘family’ work and live together several months out of the year.
In between some of the most exciting chase scenes on film the crew smokes, drinks, plays cards, and flirts with women. And these chase scenes are rhinos, zebras, giraffes and big cats just to name a few. Heck I’d drink everyday too! There is also a lot of humor, as well as good banter between characters. For example Wayne faces down a charging momma elephant and Dallas ends up being a momma to three baby elephants.
Not only is the film enjoyable but the sound track is a classic. Henry Mancini outdid himself with the music. You will find yourself tapping your foot along to tunes such as Baby Elephant Walk, Just for Tonight, theme Hatari! just to name a few. My blood starts pumping when the theme song gets going and the opening scene with the attempt at a rhino capture. Yours will too.
So you won’t miss a lot of the story line if you can’t pause it and need some more popcorn but I promise you won’t be disappointed with this movie either. GREAT action. A romance with all the charm a John Wayne romance can have. Pretty damn funny. Watch HATARI!