In this adaptation by Peter Viertel from his thinly fictionalised account of John Huston's arrogant antics immediately prior to filming The African Queen, Eastwood - directing himself as Huston/'Wilson' - proffers a supremely intelligent study of a man of monstrous selfishness and often irresistible charm, whose overwhelming passion for hunting drives him inexorably toward what even he acknowledges as an irredeemable sin: killing an elephant. Friendship, the film, and ordinary ethics are sacrificed on the altar of his ego. Wisely, however, Eastwood doesn't preach or condemn, but simply reveals the man's magnetism while admitting to the terrible consequences of his ambition. After a comparatively stodgy opening in London, the film shifts to Africa, and at once settles into a tone of semi-comic high adventure which never allows the serious themes - wanton ecological destruction, colonial racism, and the necessity of remaining true to oneself - to lapse into portentousness. Ably aided by a fine cast and Jack Green's no-nonsense photography, Eastwood constructs a marvellously pacy, suspenseful movie which is deceptively easy on both eye and ear.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Burt Kennedy, James Bridges, Peter Viertel|
Boy Mathias Chuma