Momella: John Wayne’s Hollywood House site for Cinematic Tourism at the foot of Mount Meru
This is the Momella Farmhouse, now turned into tourists Lodge. The property is where one of the world’s most successful movies was filmed.
Momella Lodge which is still located within the Arusha National Park, retains same structure that existed more than 60 years ago when Hollywood’s legendary star, John Wayne (also known as ‘The Duke’), lived and produced the ‘Hatari!’ film there.
The Tanzania National Park’s management believe the property is an important component in the future tourism promotion drive.
Arusha National Park, founded in 1960 is the second oldest after Serengeti and also among the few that are self-sustaining. Here visitors can climb Mount Meru, the second highest peak after Kilimanjaro, enjoy canoeing on Momella Lakes, experience walking safaris and even get the taste of Hollywood at both the Momella and Hatari Lodges.
‘Hatari!’ translating into ‘Danger,’ in Kiswahili, was directed by Howard Hawks and remains one of the most realistic Hollywood films ever shot on the African continent.
The Movie stars John Wayne, Hardy Krüger, Elsa Martinelli and Red Buttons. In fact, a relaxing foyer at the Momella Lodge, complete with a traditional fireplace, has even been named ‘Hardy Kruger bar and Lounge.’
According to observers, the Popularity of ‘Hatari!’ as well as the global fame which goes with the name of ‘John Wayne,’ are enough to make both Momella Lodge and Arusha National Park an outstanding destination for tourists with Hollywood interest.
Posters from the Hatari Film hang on the walls. They are complemented by stone engravings that also immortalize the film inside the Momella Lodge.
Those who watched the feature, which is still a best seller on Amazon even after 60 years, would certainly want to revisit the historical set.
John Wayne’s family has been visiting Momella frequently.
In 2007 a documentary featuring the duke’s sons, was also shot at the Lodge.
Much of the set remains the same as it was in the 1960s. Including the iconic windmill.
The grass thatched Momella Lodge buildings show age, but the over 70 years old, white-washed buildings, are still intact and if it was not for the two-year long pandemic period, the property could be bustling with visitors.
Hatari! The Film
The film storyline is simple; a group of men trap wild animals in Tanzania.
They then export species abroad for selling them to overseas zoos. This, apparently is exactly what used to take place in pre-independence, Tanganyika.
While the plot seems simple, the high-speed action is breathtaking. In fact, some episodes are quite frightening.
However as life-and-death edge-of-the-seat action rolls on, eventually then the whole thing plunges into some swooning romantic stuff with the arrival of a female wildlife photographer from France.
Played by Elsa Martinell, the newcomer threatens to change the team’s style of operating and living.
The movie climaxes with elephants from the National Park wreaking havoc in Arusha City.
He is popularly known as ‘The Duke.’ John Wayne remains the leading light of a Hollywood past and Present. The late John Wayne set out in the global movie industry from the silent era of the 1920s to the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Born in Winterset, Iowa as Marion Martin, the actor who became known as John Wayne would define an era of American cinema and, for more than three decades, would be one of its biggest stars.