Hatari! (1962)

Hatari! (1962)

“Why don’t you find out what kind of a girl I am before you make up your mind?”

The leader (John Wayne) of a big game capture company in Tanganyika is oblivious to advances made by the beautiful photographer (Elsa Martinelli) visiting their crew; meanwhile, his employee “Pockets” (Red Buttons) is in love with the young woman (Michèle Girardon) who owns the company, but worries that a new French hire (Gérard Blain) will woo her away from him.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Africa
  • Howard Hawks Films
  • Hunting
  • John Wayne Films
  • Red Buttons Films

In between Rio Bravo (1959) and Man’s Favorite Sport? (1964), Howard Hawks directed this romantic action comedy flick set in Africa and featuring baby elephants (alongside plenty of other wild animals). Indeed, the film is essentially an excuse to show numerous safaris to capture animals for zoos — including antelopes, zebras, ostriches, giraffes:

… rhinos (the most elusive and dangerous prize):

… and elephants. A significant sub-plot revolves around Martinelli’s insistence on saving the life of a young elephant whose mother has died, which leads to her caring for several calves:

… and eventually being honored in a terribly awkward ceremony by a local tribe. Which man will win the hand of each of the (conveniently) beautiful young women on hand otherwise takes up the bulk of the would-be storyline, alongside occasional “comedic” interactions between Wayne and Buttons.


(With Hawks himself age 66 at the time this film was released, is it any wonder the middle-aged men in the cast would somehow have a leg up on the younger, much more handsome candidates?) You truly can skip this one unless you happen to be a Wayne or Hawks completist.

Note: The real-life story of Girardon (best known for her appearance here) is quite tragic.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Russell Harlan’s cinematography

Must See?
No; skip this one.


2 thoughts on “Hatari! (1962)

  1. Not must-see.

    Bottom line: Hawks is one of several directors who reached a point in his career where he simply stopped making worthy films. FFs needn’t bother with anything that follows ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ (1953) – though there are some films prior to ‘GPB’ that can be skipped.

  2. Including Rio Bravo (1959)?! One of the most highly regarded westerns of the era.

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