Hatari! (1962)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Classics , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Howard Hawks

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John Wayne
as Sean Mercer
Red Buttons
as Pockets
Elsa Martinelli
as Anna-Maria D'Alessandro (Dallas)
Hardy Kruger
as Kurt Mueller
Michèle Girardon
as Brandy Delacourt
Bruce Cabot
as Indian
Eduard Franz
as Dr. Sanderson
Valentin de Vargas
as Luis Francisco Garcia Lopez
Jon Chevron
as Joseph
Henry Scott
as Sikh Clerk
Sam Harris
as Man in the Store
Jack Williams
as Man/Masai Warrior/Native Boy
Emmett E. Smith
as Bartender
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Critic Reviews for Hatari!

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (6)

Politics take a back seat to sex, served up in a dazzling wealth of innuendo.

Full Review… | March 13, 2016
New Yorker
Top Critic

The strapping physique of the film unhappily emphasizes the anemic condition of the story streaming within.

Full Review… | May 13, 2008
Top Critic

A broader canvas for the interaction of comedy and drama than its immediate predecessor (Rio Bravo), this is both discursive and leisurely.

Full Review… | May 13, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

This late masterpiece (1962) by Howard Hawks transcends every literary value in the book to become a brilliantly entertaining and insightful work of pure cinema.

Full Review… | May 13, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

All in all, one of those rare films that genuinely constitutes a 'late masterpiece'.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Perhaps the accent on the trapping of free-roaming critters for use in zoos is a mite too heavy, but this aspect of African business rates the attention it receives here.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Hatari!


A plotless (and interminable) travelogue that seems more like a cheap excuse for Hawks to spend vacation in Africa, and it is hard to empathize with hunters working to catch animals for zoos (I was rooting for the rhinos) but at least the characters are charismatic (despite the casual sexism).

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Howard Hawk's classic safari adventure may be set in Africa and have plenty of huge scenes of men in cars chasing down animals. If you take that away, it is basically a romantic comedy, though. It is highly amusing to see what men turn into when a new female enters their territory and the little fights that causes. The lovable characters and light-hearted mood of the film make for a very entertaining experience. While the action sequence of the animal hunts do get a bit repetitive, they are still impressively filmed, look and feel real without a lot of special effect that'd probably be used today. The film easily could have been 15 minutes shorter, but it's still a lovable and charming experience to spend two hours with that crew of characters.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

I'd like to see a lot more John Wayne movies in the future, but for now this is the only one I know I've seen right off the bat, and I enjoyed it a lot. It has a sort of love story to it, but the parts I remember most are when Wayne and the others are chasing a bunch of animals. It's like a fast-paced African safari!

Jason Owens
Jason Owens

Super Reviewer

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