In 1960, director Howard Hawks arrived in Tanganyika, now Tanzania, with actors John Wayne, Red Buttons, Hardy Krüger and Elsa Martinelli in tow. They were there to shoot action scenes for his movie Hatari! (meaning 'danger' in Swahili). They filmed on location at the Arusha and Serengeti national parks, at Mount Meru and in the town of Arusha, and created one of the most visually interesting African movies of all time.
Hatari! tells the story of a Western expat animal capture team, headed up by John Wayne, collecting animals for the world's zoos. Much of the movie shows them racing across the open savannah around Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, chasing rhinos, giraffes and zebras. The scenery is breathtaking.
The movie has been the subject of much praise for its cinematography, by Russell Harlan, including an Oscar nomination in 1962. Rather astonishingly, according to Howard Hawks, all of the hunting scenes were filmed using the actors, and not stunt doubles, animal handlers or professional hunters. When, at one point, a rhino escapes, it's the actors themselves who have to recapture it. Hawks kept this scene in for its realism.
The movie has been praised for this authenticity – capturing Tanganyika as it was, the animal pursuits as they really were, and getting up close to the wildlife without using special effects. (Interestingly, the same animals that were filmed in Africa were captured and flown in a DC6 across Africa to Hollywood for scenes finished there.)
The film ends with three baby elephants marching through a small local town. This is Arusha, once a sleepy little town, now a major city and the center of safari tourism in Tanzania.
Many other scenes were filmed on a hunting ranch, Ngongongare Farm, at that time owned by Krüger. (He bought it in 1960 and sold it 13 years later.) Today it is known as the Hatari Lodge, named after the movie and luxuriously appointed, with views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Mero and nearby swampland.
Hatari! is a throwback to a time when movies about Africa didn't star Africans, and when hunting wild animals wasn't politically incorrect. There's a lot about this movie that doesn't feel quite right any more, but for a chance to see northern Tanzania in the Sixties, it's remarkable. – Roshan McArthur