Another of Hawks's paradises, an outpost on the edge of the world where the camaraderie of men at work is enhanced by a spunky femme who might conquer their leader's heart. It's a wonderful place to spend time, and the first three-quarters contain fond, worldly, delicate wisdom that the film promptly undermines with one of Hawks's lamest endings. But it's an old-timer's reverie, to be sure.
Based on the Hawks I've seen, Hatari! seems to be a fully realized evolution of his catalog that becomes less driven by plot or conflict, in a classical narrative sense, as his career matured, and more a beautiful documentation of the loveliness of human interaction at work. Initially slightly put off by what felt like shoddy acting, I came to love them for their flaws, as I would any of my friends.
This isn't a masterpiece, but it is a real touchstone in the craft. I'd even call it a lark. One big lark. Enormous, as its run-time and serial narration suggest. I see why many take this to be a producer of brilliant formal ideas, and I see it having a lot of fun while doing that, but I also see - and why not bring it up - animal cruelty, sexism, and post-in-neo-colonial racism on display. Why go to all the trouble?
I love the score. There's some signature Hawks charm, too. The run time is long though, and while it somehow feels like it needs the scope to get where it's going, I found the film ultimately a bit laborious.