Follow TV Tropes


Film / Hatari!

Go To

Hatari! is a 1962 Howard Hawks film about a team of animal catchers in Tanzania. Plenty of characters abound, each with their own background.

  • Sean Mercer (John Wayne), the leader who's had his heart broken in the past.
  • Kurt Müller (Hardy Krüger), a racecar driver from Germany, also one of Brandy's love interests.
  • Dallas (Elsa Martinelli), an Italian photographer who's taking pictures of the animal catching and has a romantic subplot with Sean.
  • The Indian (Bruce Cabot), the former shooter of the team. Gets gored by a rhino in the beginning and begins to think there's a jinx on hunting rhinos.
  • Chips (Gérard Blain), also known as The Frenchman, the current shooter. Has a vitrolic friendship with Kurt and a crush on Brandy.
  • Brandy de la Court (Michèle Girardon), the daughter of the former leader. Has three men vying for her, but chooses Pockets.
  • Pockets (Red Buttons), a former New York cabbie, the team joker, who prefers to stay away from the animals as they scare him. Also has a thing for Brandy. Has his pockets full of stuff.
  • Luis Francisco Garcia Lopez (Valentin de Vargas), who doesn't wear pajamas.

Howard Hawks decided not to use a plot for the movie, instead letting the characters develop and tying it together with Book Ends. The cast mostly averts Fake Nationality (except for Sean and Luis. The Indian is also played by an American, but not a Native one), and as a result a lot of the actors aren't on this wiki. Check The Other Wiki for details.

Hatari! was scored by Henry Mancini; "Baby Elephant Walk", a playful instrumental he wrote for the film, has proven to be enduringly popular.

Definitely not to be confused with the Icelandic band of the same name.


  • AB Negative: Shown Their Work, as the doctor explicitly states that he tried using plasma first on the Indian, but since it wasn't working he needs whole blood, which has to be the same type. Turns out Chips has the right type.
  • Actor Allusion: John Wayne is wearing a "Red River D" belt buckle in the opening scenes.
  • All for Nothing: Luis tells a story about one of their most difficult captures, an unusually tall giraffe. It ends with him revealing that after all that, they had to let him go, since he was too big to transport to Mombasa.
  • Badass Driver: Kurt and Pockets are in charge of the vehicles and have to whip across rough terrain at high speeds with rapid turns to catch animals. Kurt is an former racer who drives the herding jeep, while Pockets is a former cab driver who has the heavier and slower catching truck.
  • Bathing Beauty: Subverted. Brandy has to go take a bath in the river and asks one of the men to come with her to keep an eye out, two later revealed to be three of which have expressed interest in her. Sean, who isn't interested at all, breaks his straw and goes with her.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Dallas' introduction is a play on this. Sean goes into his room, takes his boots off, and she wakes up and tells him that she's in his bed. It's perfectly innocent (she arrived late, and so she just picked a random bed to use), but the guys lampshade the implications. Played straight in the last scene, where Dallas does this deliberately as foreplay...only for Pockets and three baby elephants to kill the mood.
  • Bilingual Bonus: This crops up now and then, since the movie is :
    • Set in Tanganyika (modern-day Tanzania), and was shot on location with Swahili speakers.
    • Featuring an international cast.
  • Book Ends: Catching the rhino and Bedmate Reveal.
  • Blood Brothers: Chips and the Indian joke about this when the Indian arrives, since Chips gave a blood donation to him. The Indian quips "Not until I give you some back!".
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. The Frenchman Chips is a Blood Knight and if anything doesn't know when to back down.
    Sean: Stop it, will you? You can't whip us all.
    Chips: I can try!
  • Chivalrous Pervert: The Indian is mentioned making passes at the nurses, and asks Sean who Dallas "belongs" to, but never actually harasses anyone. He also takes care of Sean, making jibes at him so that Sean's temper will be turned towards someone who doesn't care about it.
  • Curse: Of the superstition kind. A former member of the group and Brandy's father were both killed by rhinos, and one nearly kills the Indian in the beginning. The Indian starts to wonder if they've got a "jinx" where rhinos are concerned and asks Sean to reconsider further hunts, and Sean agrees to fill out the other orders first and then reconsider. They do end up catching a rhino at the end, with no further injuries, and consider the jinx broken.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Kurt only warms up to Chips after he defeats him in a shooting contest. Chips punching him at the end (really just reciprocating a then-unanswered kick given a few days ago) seems to have added to it.
    Chips: Do you still want me now?
    Kurt: *smiling* You got the job.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Downplayed. Sean tells Dallas that they aren't acting condescending towards her because she's a woman, they're taking reasonable precautions around an amateur in a very dangerous job. However, he does admit that he'd be more comfortable with a man in her position, if only because a man is more likely to have the experience (shooting, hunting, being to Africa) that he'd prefer.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Even though there isn't anything between them, Pockets drives his car into a wall when Dallas starts changing clothes in the car.
  • Ditzy Genius: Pockets. Well, more like silly genius, but you wouldn't expect such a jokey guy to catch 500 monkeys with a rocket.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Kurt, the German, fighting Chips, the Frenchman. The war was only about twenty years before the release of the movie.
  • Drawing Straws: When Brandy needs to go bathe in the river, she asks one of the men to come with her (because she can't carry a gun and bathe) and draws straws to decide. Sean breaks his straw, because two of the other men had expressed interest in her before and he was the only one who still thought of her as a kid.
  • Fighting Irish: Downplayed. Sean doesn't do much physical fighting, but he does have a temper, which Pockets blames on his Irish heritage.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: A lot of Sean's hang-ups about romance come from his first girlfriend, who hated everything in his life and left because she couldn't stand it.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect:
    • When Pockets falls off a fence, Brandy immediately rushes to his side, acting far more tender with him than with Kurt and Chips earlier and treating him while holding his hand. Subverted in that it's heavily implied that she had feelings for him beforehand, and saw him being injured as an opportunity.
    • Inverted when Kurt and Chips' car goes over. Brandy shows justifiable concern for both, but Sean and Dallas both note that she doesn't panic over either, and take it as a sign she's not romantically interested.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Dallas gets attached to Tembo, a baby elephant left orphaned after his mother was killed, then later picks up another. Then the third just shows up one day. Sean is initially unhappy with it, but gives in eventually. They're later used to track her down in the finale. In contrast, the other elephants we see are Tembo's mother (who almost killed several people out of misguided maternal instinct) and a bull elephant that charges Sean before being scared off by gunfire.
  • Foreign Language Title: Hatari! is Swahili for Danger!.
  • Friendly Sniper: Sharpshooters rather than snipers, but The Indian and then Chips are both friendly people.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: The entire team is very impressed when Luis shows up for the season's end party in a full tuxedo, with one person even wolf whistling and Kurt and Chips asking if he's got extra suits.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Averted hard. Most of the animal attacks and dangerous captures come from herbivores, with Tembo and his siblings (who all imprinted on Dallas) being the only exceptions. In contrast, the cheetah Sonya is a laid back pet, the leopard gets caught without much fuss, and the only carnivore attack in the film is a crocodile going for Kurt.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kurt and Chip develop into this. At the end they're both going to Paris to hook up with a girl they coincidentally both know.
  • I Owe You My Life: Chips saves Kurt from a crocodile. Kurt later hands him a drink and they decide to cool their love triangle over Brandy into a Friendly Rivalry.
  • Insult of Endearment: Pockets and the Indian refer to Sean as "bwana" (Swahili for "boss") when they want to tease him for getting too bossy. Pockets even pretends to kneel at one point, while chanting "Yes, bwana. Yes.".
  • Last Guy Wins: Pockets is the last guy (we see) to take an interest in Brandy, and the one she chooses.
  • Malingering Romance Ploy: When Pockets falls from a fence, Brandy rushes to him and calls him "baby" in concern. He pretends he's passed out, then "wakes up" and pretends he's in pain, so she'll keep fussing over him. Later, when Kurt and Chips — who really were injured earlier that day, when their car went over — come looking for some ice, they learn that there's not any left, because Brandy took it all to use it in ice bags and drinks for Pockets.
    Chips: He fell of a fence.
    Kurt:You nearly took a leg off, I got a dislocated shoulder...
    Chips: And he gets the ice.
  • Moment Killer: Pockets breaks up a few of Dallas and Sean's kisses. He lampshades it both times, and once again later. Of course, the ultimate Moment Killer is Dallas' three baby elephants coming in on Sean and Dallas' wedding night.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Dallas, who has never been to Africa before, hunted, or lived in the bush. It's one of the reasons Sean isn't comfortable with her being there.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Played with: Pockets gets drunk, he just doesn't get hungover.
  • Only Known by Initials: Dallas signed her letters to the Indian as "A.M. D'allesandro". Everyone assumes she's a man until she arrives to clear things up.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Nearly every member of the cast. This seems to be because they're a multinational team and struggle with each other's real names.
    • The Indian's real name is Little Wolf.
    • Chips' real name is Charles Maurey. Sean found it unpronounceable and called him Chips, and they sometimes dub him "The Frenchman" in honor of the Indian.
    • Pockets' real name is never revealed.
    • Dallas' real name is Anna Maria D'Allesandro.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Pockets and Dallas develop into this. Best shown when Dallas is weeping, and all Pockets has to say is "Hey, it's Pockets. What's the matter?" and she explains it all.
  • Practice Kiss / Test Kiss: Dallas invokes this with Sean, asking him how he likes to kiss, and then practicing. Finally, it ends with him grabbing her and kissing her. Unfortunately, Pockets breaks it up.
  • Race for Your Love: In the finale, Sean chases Dallas to the airport, with the baby elephants used as sniffer dogs.
  • Rescue Romance: Parodied when Dallas is taking a bath and a cheetah comes in. Pockets comes in and tries to save her, only for Sean and Kurt to come in and reveal that the cheetah is their pet Sonya. Dallas smacks Pockets with a wet towel.
  • Rhino Rampage: Rhinos killed a Belgian worker and Brandy's father, and one gores the Indian in the beginning. Downplayed in that they're not shown as vicious or even confrontational (the rhinos prefer to run away than attack), but as dangerous wild animals reacting to being cornered and restrained.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Just past the halfway point of the movie, Pockets begins working on "some Rube Goldberg for catching monkeys", which is best summed up as a giant rocket-net. The instant Sean hears about it, he marches over to Pockets' workstation only to find smoke and fleeing workers.
    Workers: Hatari! Hatari!
  • She Is All Grown Up: Sean says this of Brandy, once he realizes Kurt is interested in her. Ironically, while it applies fully to Kurt and Pockets, Sean later states he still sees her as a child.
  • Sleeps in the Nude: Luis makes a joke about it when meeting Dallas. Pockets is introduced wearing just the top of his pajamas, and Kurt jokes that he wears the other half. Luis completes it by saying he doesn't wear pajamas at all.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Brandy has 3 guys vying for her attention and she's noticeably taller than all 3 of them. She's even just a few inches shorter than 6'4" John Wayne.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Most of the injuries fall into Hollywood Healing (Kurt recovers rather quickly from a dislocated shoulder), but the Indian gets gored by a rhino at the beginning of the movie, and while he eventually moves out of the hospital and from a bed to a cane, his leg still has a way to go by the end.
  • Tempting Fate: Dallas decides to ride in the bed of the pick-up truck for the first capture, even though Sean warns her it's a bad idea unless she's used to it. She's unable to stay standing and is tossed off her feet repeatedly until Luis tells her to sit down and hold on. She sticks to the cab after that.
    Dallas: I like to be where I can move around.
    Sean: Oh you'll move around, all right.
  • That Wasn't a Request: Dallas introduces herself to the group and asks to become a part of their team for the season so she can take pictures of the captures, and Sean turns her down for not being experienced enough. She then reveals that she's from the zoo that's buying most of their animals for the season, which has added photographs of captures as a stipulation of their contract. She was just offering because it would be easier for everyone if they wanted her.
  • Title Drop: When a rocket goes off accidentally, Pockets comes running out of the building shouting "Hatari! Hatari! Hatari!" ("Danger!").
  • Third-Option Love Interest: Kurt and Chips are in a Love Triangle with Brandy. Turns out she's not interested in either of them, but Pockets.
  • Tsundere: Sean's behavior to Dallas fits the bill. Later explained by Pockets to Dallas, the recipient of Sean's cold shoulder:
    Pockets: If a man falls for a woman and gets his fingers burned, so he won't be singed again, what does he do?
    Dallas: I don't know. Tell me.
    Pockets: If he doesn't like you, he doesn't care and he can be nice to you; but if he does like you, he doesn't want to get in any deeper, so he acts mean. The more he likes you, the meaner he acts. Doesn't that make sense?
    Dallas: No.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Again, Kurt and the Frenchman. They spend most of their screentime either figuratively or literally fighting over something, notably Brandy, but they remain affable about it. By the end, they decide to go back to Europe together in the off season, and fight over another girl they both know.
  • Who's on First?: They get into this a little with the "I don't know" when they are drunk and have just discovered Dallas in Sean's bed.
  • Wrestler of Beasts: Downplayed. Luis is a former bullfighter who puts those skills to use in subduing the animals captured, but he's directing a team, not doing it himself.
  • Zip Me Up: When Kurt goes back to get Brandy, she's having trouble with her dress and he zips her up. While she sees it as innocent, it's the moment Kurt realizes that he has feelings for her.