Hatari! (1962)

hatJohn Wayne plays Sean Mercer in this adventurous film set in the wilds of Africa. Sean is the head of an expedition sent to collect wild animals to be shipped to zoos around the world. They have built a house to live in and an enclosure to hold the animals they have captured, and at the end of the season they will send each creature to the zoo that expressed a need. It’s a great set-up and they each have their jobs down to a T.

But one day, Sean gets a letter from A. M. D’Allesandro, a wildlife photographer who wants to take pictures of the captures and of the animals. Sean agrees to let A. M. come, but is dismayed to find out that A. M. stands for Anna Maria, and she is very much a woman.

This presents a problem. The outfit is run by men, with the exception of Brandy, the daughter of the safari owner. She’s been around long enough that all the men view her as a little sister. But Anna Maria is different. She’s definitely nobody’s little sister, and Sean is sure that she’ll prove a distraction to the men. She promises to stay clear out of the way and not to get romantically involved with anyone. This works just fine until Sean falls in love with her himself.

This movie is full of spectacular shots of the African savannah, gorgeous footage of the wild animals, and some great humor as well. The romances (yes, there are more than one) are touching and tender. This is a movie both men and women could enjoy, and their children as well, over the age of, say, seven. There is some mild peril that might be disturbing to a younger viewer.

If I were to make a list of my all-time favorite classic movies, this film would definitely be near the top, and is for sure my favorite John Wayne.

This movie is not rated.

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