59 user 35 critic

White Hunter Black Heart (1990)

A thinly fictionalized account of a legendary movie director, whose desire to hunt down an animal turns into a grim situation with his movie crew in Africa.


Clint Eastwood


Peter Viertel (novel), Peter Viertel (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Clint Eastwood ... John Wilson
Jeff Fahey ... Pete Verrill
Charlotte Cornwell Charlotte Cornwell ... Miss Wilding, Wilson's Secretary
Norman Lumsden Norman Lumsden ... Butler George
George Dzundza ... Paul Landers
Edward Tudor-Pole ... Reissar - a British Partner (as Edward Tudor Pole)
Roddy Maude-Roxby Roddy Maude-Roxby ... Thompson, British Partner
Richard Warwick ... Basil Fields, British Partner
John Rapley John Rapley ... Gun Shop Salesman
Catherine Neilson ... Irene Saunders
Marisa Berenson ... Kay Gibson, Film Star
Richard Vanstone Richard Vanstone ... Phil Duncan, Film Star
Jamie Koss Jamie Koss ... Mrs. Duncan
Anne Dunkley Anne Dunkley ... Scarf Girl in Nightclub Show
David Danns David Danns ... Bongo Man in Nightclub Show


The world famous movie Director John Wilson (Clint Eastwood) has gone to Africa to make his next movie. He is an obstinate, contrary director who'd rather hunt elephants than take care of his crew or movie. He has become obsessed with one particular elephant and cares for nothing else. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An adventure in obsession...


Adventure | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Though greatly synonymous with The African Queen (1951), the movie's character equivalent of Humphrey Bogart in this movie is Richard Vanstone's Phil Duncan, but this character has very little presence in the movie at all. See more »


The film is set in Uganda where the main African languages are Swahili and Ganda. But the language heard on screen throughout the film is Shona, the main language spoken in Zimbabwe, which is where the film was actually shot. For instance, the racist hotel manager Harry shouts "Iwe!" meaning "You!" at an African servant, which is a derogatory way of addressing an inferior. Later when the boat is first seen as it's being hauled up a ramp, Lockhart is heard shouting "Donza!" which means "Pull!" At the safari camp, Zibelinsky addresses Kivu the chief hunter as "shamwari," meaning "friend," and he refers to Wilson as "mambo," meaning "chief." Kivu replies to a couple of their comments by first saying "tatenda," meaning "thank you," which in Shona is a polite way of acknowledging when a superior speaks to you. See more »


Ralph Lockhart: No Hollywood safaris for me.
John Wilson: That word has crept into the conversation quite a few times, hasn't it?
Ralph Lockhart: Which word is that, sir?
John Wilson: Hollywood. I realize it's the name of a place, but the way you say it has an added meaning. Like an insult.
Ralph Lockhart: Well, l didn't mean it like that.
John Wilson: Don't contradict me, Ralph. I've heard it all before. In the Army, in New York in the theater. Hell, l've heard it everywhere. People say Hollywood when they want to insult you. Well, really Hollywood is just a place where they make a ...
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References The African Queen (1951) See more »


Massa's In de Cold Cold Ground
Written by Stephen Foster
Arranged by Lennie Niehaus
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User Reviews

Intelligent story about a notorious filmmaker who has become obsessed with one particular elephant and leaves the shooting
1 June 2012 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

One of the most intellectual and unknown films from actor and director Clint Eastwood , at the height of his best work as acting as filmmaking , and based on real events . A thinly fictionalized account of a legendary movie director, the world famous film director John Huston , whose desire to hunt down an animal turns into a grim situation , he has gone to Africa to make his next movie , but he is more interested in hunting large tusked elephants that shooting the movie he came to Africa to produce . Eastwood stars , directs and produces this original adventure film that alternates with great skill and unique perspective, a recreation of the early stages in the filming "The African Queen" and the obsession of its director to hunt elephant tusks in the middle portentous African Savannah .

Very good performance by Eastwood who gives a self-destructive portrait of the protagonist John Wilson , a facade for John Huston's The African Queen. High performances filled with silences , glances, gestures , supported by an excellent support cast as Jeff Fahey's character is based on Peter Viertel, George Dzundza's on Sam Spiegel ; Marisa Berenson's on Katharine Hepburn and Richard Vanstone's on Humphrey Bogart . Even Katharine Hepburn contested the accuracy of the film . Interesting script with writing credits from prestigious screenwriters as Peter Viertel (novel's author and married to Deborah Kerr), Burt Kennedy and James Bridges , his writing on the screenplay became the final film work .

This interesting film results to be an extraordinary building a peculiar character inspired in John Huston as an obstinate, contrary director who'd rather hunt elephants than takes care of his crew or movie . Nobody is better than a great actor-turned-best director, Clint Eastwood , to impersonate one of the greatest American filmmakers with portentous personality and special character . The particularities regarding his crafty , eccentric womanizer and "bon vivant" found in Houston turned to be perfectly incarnated into the wonderful interpretation of Eastwood who provides everything needed to display the charisma and genius of this character . Based on 1953's accounts written by Peter Viertel and well played by Jeff Fahey referring his experiences working on James Agee's screenplay . The small steamboat that they used in the whitewater scene is the same boat that Humphrey Bogart's character captained in The African Queen . Furthermore , the picture displays an atmospheric and sensible musical score by Lennie Niehaus , Eastwood's usual . Colorful cinematography by Jack N. Green filmed on location in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe , Zambia and in studio : Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, UK . Rating : Good , better than average .

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Release Date:

14 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

White Hunter Black Heart See more »


Box Office


$24,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$165,450, 16 September 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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