White Hunter, Black Heart
DIRECTOR: CLINT EASTWOOD
CAST: CLINT EASTWOOD, JEFF FAHEY, MARISA BERENSON, JOHN HUSTON
John Huston’s boozing, big game hunting, and general hell-raising during the location shoot of The African Queen (1951) in the Congo and Uganda, documented in screenwriter Peter Viertel’s 1953 novel, provide the raw materials for this, Eastwood’s dramatic deconstruction of Huston’s hyper-macho public persona—and, incidentally, his own. Playing Huston surrogate “John Wilson,” more concerned with bagging an elephant on safari than getting his movie made, Eastwood for the first time in his career does a conscious impersonation of a historical personage, delivering lines in Huston’s trademark drawl. Playing “Wilson” as a theatrical cad, Eastwood delves into the performative, false-front aspect of masculinity, revealing finally the imperial arrogance behind Huston’s “good liberal” pose.