White Hunter, Black Heart

Clint Eastwood assuredly directs this adaptation of Peter Viertel’s roman a clef about the events preceding the filming of The African Queen, with Eastwood himself playing the John Huston characterwho decides to shoot a movie in Africa as an excuse to hunt elephants. In a daring departure from his usual roles, Eastwood doesn’t so much impersonate Huston as offer a commentary on him and on macho bluster in general, and thanks to the beautifully structured script by Viertel, James Bridges, and Burt Kennedywhich also has a lot of interesting things to say about colonialism and Hollywood (both separately and in conjunction with one another)it’s a devastating portrait of self-deceiving obsession, and a notable improvement on Viertel’s book in terms of economy and focus. With Jeff Fahey, George Dzundza, Alun Armstrong, Marisa Berenson, Timothy Spall, and Mel Martin (1990). (JR)

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