black heart

White Hunter Black Heart

White Hunter Black Heart is a 1990 film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood as John Wilson, based on the book by Peter Viertel. Viertel also wrote the script. The film was based on several Golden Age of Hollywood movie producers. The main character is based on real life director John Huston; at times, Eastwood can be heard drawing out his vowels, speaking in Huston's distinctive style and George Dzundza's character is based on African Queen producer Sam Spiegel. While not a huge success in its time, this film is now considered one of Eastwood's finest moments as both an actor and director.


The story centers on world-renowned film maker John Wilson (Eastwood), who travels to Africa for his next film bringing with him a young writer chum named Pete Verrill (Jeff Fahey). While there he becomes obsessed with hunting elephants while neglecting the preparations for the film. This leads to a conflict between the men on several levels, most notably over the idea of killing for sport such a grand animal. Even Wilson concedes that it is so wrong that it is not just a crime against nature, but a "sin." Yet he cannot overcome his desire to bring down a giant bull, a "tusker" with massive ivory tusks. Wilson's final realization that his is a petty, ignoble pursuit comes at a late point and with a tragic price, as the local expert guide Kivu (Boy Mathias Chuma) is killed protecting him from an elephant Wilson decides not to shoot.

The film is a thinly disguised account of writer Peter Viertel's experiences working with John Huston (the Wilson character) while he made the film The African Queen, which was shot on location in Africa at a time when location shoots outside of the United States for American films were very rare.

Critical reception

The film received positive reviews with review tallying website reporting that 14 out of the 16 reviews they tallied were positive for a score of 88% and a certification of "fresh".


  • Like the fictional film it is based on, it too was shot on location in Africa. In the case of White Hunter Black Heart in the Republic of Zimbabwe, with most interior scenes done in and around Pinewood Studios in England.
  • The small steamboat they used in the whitewater scene is the same boat Humphrey Bogart's character captained in The African Queen (1951).
  • Katharine Hepburn also wrote of her adventure making the The African Queen in her best-selling book The Making of The African Queen: Or, How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.
  • The final script was written by James Bridges.


External links

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