The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Fortnight: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 24-January 6

12/24/2014 1:00 PM |


White Hunter, Black Heart (1990)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
In this fictionalized telling of the making of The African Queen (based on a novel by its uncredited rewriter), Eastwood performs a sustained, fascinating, campy impression of the larger-than-life John Huston. It’s a physically and emotionally open turn for an actor typically so tightly wound, all cigar-chomping, fist-fighting and ethnic-minority defending, sometimes all at once. Echoing Thomas Edison, great-grandfather of American cinema and elephant-electrocution extraordinaire, Eastwood’s Huston itches to plug a pachyderm, developing an Ahab-sized obsession. Orwell he ain’t—more like Hemingway, Teddy Roosevelt and T.E. Lawrence rolled into one: wise man, explorer, petty god. Eastwood undercuts the mythological machismo in the film’s stinging final reel, and he also shows us the madness behind the old Hollywood magic. White Hunter is a nuts-and-bolts portrait—loving and satirical, glamorous and ridiculous, romantic and upending—of the Golden Age of the Silver Screen, which Eastwood just missed, probably for the best. Henry Stewart (Jan 2, 6:15pm; Jan 5, 1pm, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Huston retrospective)