White Hunter, Black Heart (1990)

Genres - Action, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Film a Clef, Adventure Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 14, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Keith Phipps

Though in many ways a departure for Clint Eastwood both as an actor and a director, White Hunter, Black Heart explores a subject close to his heart: the Hemingway-inspired tough-guy artiste, a tradition that stretches beyond the film's ostensible subject, John Huston, to include Eastwood-mentor Don Siegel, and in some respects Eastwood himself. Despite their obvious physical differences, Eastwood's performance instantly evokes Huston while stopping safely short of a mere impersonation. He makes his character extremely appealing without hiding his flaws. As a director, Eastwood keeps the film moving along in a way that allows its more difficult themes -- colonialism, self-destructive bravado, racism -- to emerge naturally without seeming in the least heavy-handed. Though he fashions himself a rebel against the hypocrisies of English propriety, the evolution of Eastwood's character is the realization of his own implication in what he hates. By the film's unforgettable conclusion he recognizes, like Marlow in Heart Of Darkness, that Africa is too much for him. Also worth noting: Hunter features a solid supporting performance from, of all people, direct-to-video fixture Jeff Fahey.