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Monday, July 10, 2017

Hatari! (1962)

In East Africa, a group of adventurers capture wild animals for delivery to zoos around the world. But when a beautiful Italian photographer (Elsa Martinelli) is assigned to the group to shoot pictures by a Swiss zoo, the group's founder and leader (John Wayne) finds himself reluctantly attracted to her but he keeps it to himself. Directed by Howard Hawks, there really is no plot as such. Written by Leigh Brackett (THE BIG SLEEP), it's a loose series of incidents tied up together and presented as an amiable but definitely Hawksian film. If one can get over the idea of wild animals being kidnapped from their native habitat and sent away to live the rest of their lives in cages, this is an enjoyable action/adventure film. My main objection is that there's too much filler and Hawks' languid pacing needed a good editor. For something essentially plotless, the film runs over the 2 1/2 hour mark! That's way too long and a bit self indulgent. Hawks' cinematographer Russell Harlan (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD) does a bang up job of filming the handsome Tanganyika (now Tanzania) locations and the wild animals and there's a charming Henry Mancini underscore. With Red Buttons, Hardy Kruger, Bruce Cabot, Gerard Blain and the tragic Michele Girardon (who died at 36).

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