Hatari! is Swahili for “danger”—and also the word for action, adventure and broad comedy in this two-fisted Howard Hawks effort. John Wayne stars as the head of a daring Tanganyka-based group which captures wild animals on behalf of the world’s zoos. Hardy Kruger, Gérard Blain and Red Buttons are members of Wayne’s men-only contingent, all of whom are reduced to jello when the curvaceous Elsa Martinelli enters the scene. In tried and true Howard Hawks fashion, Martinelli quickly becomes “one of the guys,” though Wayne apparently can’t say two words to her without sparking an argument. The second half of this amazingly long (159 minute) film concerns the care and maintenance of a baby elephant, the barely credible finale is devoted to a comic pachyderm stampede down an urban African street, ending literally at the foot of Martinelli’s bed. The other scene worth mentioning involves comedy-relief Red Buttons’ efforts to create a fireworks-powered animal trap. Not to be taken seriously for a minute, Hatari is attractively packaged and neatly tied up with a danceable-pranceable theme song by Henry Mancini.
Date: February 17, 2020