White Hunter, Black Heart

  • 1990
  • 1 HR 52 MIN
  • PG

Based on Peter Viertel's novel Roman a Clef, WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART uses the making of a classic film, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, as the setting for an investigation into the creative process. It's also the story of one enigmatic film director as told by another. Star-director Clint Eastwood plays a thinly disguised John Huston, here called John Wilson. Set...read more

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Based on Peter Viertel's novel Roman a Clef, WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART uses the making of a classic film, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, as the setting for an investigation into the creative process. It's also the story of one enigmatic film director as told by another. Star-director Clint Eastwood plays

a thinly disguised John Huston, here called John Wilson.

Set in 1951, the film begins as Wilson has summoned an old friend, writer Pete Verrill (Jeff Fahey), to his Irish estate to recruit him for his latest project--the title of which he never can remember--about a salty, hard-drinking boat captain and a prissy schoolmarm who take on the German navy in

Africa during WWII. All Wilson really cares about is that the film will give him a fast infusion of cash to put a dent in personal debts totalling a quarter of a million dollars. Even more important, it will provide him with an all-expenses-paid opportunity to fulfill his longtime dream of going

big-game hunting. Meetings with producer Paul Landers (George Dzundza, playing a role modeled on real-life producer Sam Spiegel) and potential backers put the production on track, and Wilson and Verrill begin work on the script. But a major dispute arises over the fate of the leading characters,

who, in Wilson's version, are killed, while Verrill insists they should live as the fair reward for their extraordinary heroism. Even after Wilson and Verrill's arrival in Africa, the film continues to take a back seat to the director's planned safari to kill an elephant.

WHITE HUNTER is an ambitious and intriguing project that never amounts to anything more than the sum of its parts--a trait shared by many of Eastwood's other major project as an independent filmmaker, BIRD. The personification of the post-Hemingway action hero, Eastwood looks and sounds

uncomfortable filling Huston's decidedly Hemingwayesque shoes. As the action shifts to Africa, he seems inordinately laid-back as his character's obsession grows. He can't quite get a hold on the first predominantly unsympathetic character he's played since TIGHTROPE. And as a director, Eastwood

has yet to pose much of a threat to Huston. WHITE HUNTER, like other Eastwood-directed films, lacks precisely the clear, lean narrative approach that characterizes Huston's best work (including THE AFRICAN QUEEN) or even that of Eastwood's mentor, director Don Siegel (DIRTY HARRY, ESCAPE FROM

ALCATRAZ).

MIXED-ISH - In "mixed-ish," Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the '80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves. Bow's parents Paul and Alicia decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they're perceived as neither black nor white. This family's experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one's own identity when the rest of the world can't decide where you belong. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)
MYKAL-MICHELLE HARRIS, ARICA HIMMEL, ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS

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