Movie Review: Hatari! (1962)

Hatari! (1962)

4 out of 5 stars

I did a double-take when I realized this movie is fifty years old this year.  I grew up with this movie.  I’ve seen it I don’t know how many times.  So when I had a chance to catch it again this week via HDNet movies, I snatched it.

No, there’s not much plot, but there’s plenty of comedy, ridiculous romance (it was the early 60s) and action.  Hatari! provides a  feast for the eyes, with gorgeous cinematography of north Tanzania (back then it was Tanganyika) and the dormant volcano Mount Meru as a backdrop plus great action sequences, including an astounding close-up of a charging rhinoceros.  For my ears, I relaxed to the soothing jazzy soundtrack composed by Henry Mancini, including Baby Elephant Walk … one of the first songs I learned to play on the piano.

Most of the actors have passed on (John Wayne in 1979, Bruce Cabot in 1975, Red Buttons in 2006), leaving only Elsa Martinelli, who portrayed Dallas, and Hardy Krüger, who portrayed Kurt, but who is probably more famous for his role as Heinrich Dorfmann, the model plane engineer from The Flight of the Phoenix(1965), still alive today.

Interesting tidbit or trivia from the Wikipedia article on Hatari!

According to director Howard Hawks, all the animal captures in the picture were performed by the actual actors; no stuntmen or animal handlers were substituted onscreen. The rhino really did escape, and the actors really did have to recapture it – and Hawks included the sequence for its realism. Much of the action sequence audio had to be re-dubbed due to John Wayne’s cursing while wrestling with the animals.

The title of the film is the word “hatari,” which means “danger” in Swahili.

If no stunt double were used, then it’s a miracle that Hardy and Gerard Blain were not killed or seriously injured when their Jeep went tumbling across the African plains.  Danger, or Hatari! for real!