Hellfighters (1969)

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  • HELLFIGHTERS


    DIRECTED BY ANDREW V. McLAGLEN
    PRODUCED BY ROBERT ARTHUR
    MUSIC BY LEONARD ROSEMAN
    UNIVERSAL PICTURES


    Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas

    INFORMATION FROM IMDb


    Plot Summary
    The adventures of oil well fire specialist Chance Buckman (based on real-life Red Adair),
    who extinguishes massive fires in oil fields around the world.
    Summary written by Jim Beaver


    Full Cast
    John Wayne .... Chance Buckman
    Vera Miles .... Madelyn Buckman
    Katharine Ross .... Tish Buckman
    Jim Hutton .... Greg Parker
    Jay C. Flippen .... Jack Lomax
    Bruce Cabot .... Joe Horn
    Edward Faulkner .... George Harris
    Barbara Stuart .... Irene Foster
    Edmund Hashim .... Col. Valdez
    Valentin de Vargas .... Amal Bokru
    Frances Fong .... Madame Loo
    Alberto Morin .... General López
    Alan Caillou .... Harry York
    Laraine Stephens .... Helen Meadows
    John Alderson .... Jim Hatch
    Lal Chand Mehra .... Dr. Songla
    Rudy Diaz .... Zamora
    Chris Chandler .... Houston TV reporter
    William Hardy
    Howard Finch .... Ed 'Cal' Calhoun
    Richard 'Cactus' Pryor .... Chance's doctor (as Cactus Pryor)
    Big John Hamilton
    Bebe Louie .... Gumdrop
    Edward Colmans .... Senor Caldez (uncredited)
    Elizabeth Germaine .... (uncredited)
    Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales .... Hernando (houseboy) (uncredited)
    Chuck Roberson .... Firefighter in airplane (uncredited)
    John Stephenson .... Mr. Chapman (U.S. Embassy, Venezuela) (uncredited)


    Writing Credits
    Clair Huffaker


    Original Music
    Leonard Rosenman


    Cinematograpy
    William H. Clothier


    Stunts
    Hal Needham .... stunt coordinator
    Stan Barrett .... stunts (uncredited)
    Dick Bullock .... stunts (uncredited)
    Jim Burk .... stunts (uncredited)
    Roydon Clark .... stunts (uncredited)
    Gary Combs .... stunts (uncredited)
    Everett Creach .... stunts (uncredited)
    Alan Gibbs .... stunts (uncredited)
    Gary McLarty .... stunts (uncredited)
    Hal Needham .... stunts (uncredited)
    Chuck Roberson .... stunts (uncredited)
    Ronnie Rondell Jr. .... stunts (uncredited)
    Rock A. Walker .... stunts (uncredited)


    Other crew
    'Red' Adair .... technical advisor
    Robert Berry .... director of photography: second unit
    Robert Forrest .... dialogue coach
    Joseph Gershenson .... music supervisor
    'Boots' Hansen .... technical advisor
    'Coots' Matthews .... technical advisor


    Trivia
    The character of Chance Buckman is based on real-life oil well firefighter 'Red' Adair.


    When asked to comment on the film during production, actress Katharine Ross replied, "It's the biggest piece of crap I've ever done!" Then the reporter asked Vera Miles (who was playing Wayne's wife and Ross's mother in the film) to respond to Ross's comment. She thought for a moment and said, "Well, it's not the biggest piece of crap I'VE ever done!"


    A burning oil well prompted the owner, present-day billionaire Phillip Anschutz, to call Red Adair, a famous firefighter who later put out the oil well fires during the Gulf War, to put out the blaze. To pay Adair, Anschutz persuaded Universal Studios to pay him $100,000 to film Adair putting out his well fire for "Hellfighters."


    Katharine Ross and John Wayne had many arguments over his very vocal support for the Vietnam War.


    When Tish Buckman and Greg Parker look at the house they plan to move into after they wed, it's the same house used as the Douglas home in "My Three Sons" (1960). It was later used as one of the houses on "Wysteria Lane" in "Desperate Housewives" (2004).


    John Wayne, Bruce Cabot and Jim Hutton also all starred together in The Green Berets (1968)


    Last cinema feature of Jim Hutton.


    The cast list in the opening titles lists six actors not found in the
    closing credits, but not Louie, Bebe, who is found in the end list.


    Vera Miles (born August 1929), who portrayed Madelyn Buckman, was only 10 years older than Katharine Ross (born January 1940), who portrayed Tish Buckman, Madelyn's daughter.


    John Wayne, who turned 61 during filming, was generally considered too old for his character.


    John Wayne was still advertising cigarettes in this film, four years after losing a lung.


    When asked to comment on the film during production, actress Katharine Ross replied, "It's the biggest piece of crap I've ever done!" Then the reporter asked Vera Miles to respond to Ross's comment. She thought for a moment and said, "Well, it's not the biggest piece of crap I'VE ever done!"


    According to a magazine article each of the fires used an average of 500 gallons of a gasoline and oil mixture per minute. The largest fire used almost twice that.


    The studio designed special nozzles for the fires. There was an outer ring nozzle that shot out the flames and an inner one that shot out a mixture of water and India ink to simulate oil. This can be seen in how easily the "oil" is wiped off the actor's faces.


    A burning oil well prompted the owner, present-day billionaire Phillip Anschutz, to call Red Adair, a famous firefighter who later put out the oil well fires during the Gulf War, to put out the blaze. To pay Adair, Anschutz persuaded Universal Studios to pay him 100,000 dollars to film Adair putting out his well fire for "Hellfighters."


    The "oil" was a mixture of water and black ink. This was used since it was non-flammable, inexpensive, non-toxic and easier to clean up than real oil would have been.


    The Casper, Wyoming filming locale was the Snodgrass Ranch. Billy Snodgrass, an Iditarod competitor, said he was 10 years-old when the movie was filmed on his family ranch. The Duke enjoyed playing catch with Billy and friends during filming breaks.


    Although almost 30 years different in age, John Wayne and Jim Hutton tragically died of cancer only 9 days apart.


    Goofs
    Continuity
    When Tish first arrives at her father's apartment in Houston, she asks for a scotch rocks... but in numerous shots, there is never any ice in the glass.


    At beginning of the movie after helicopter lands, speed of rotor blades varies between shots.


    A rear view of the cockpit shows the doorway to be clear while a view from inside the cockpit shows a curtain over the doorway.


    When Tish Buckman is being picked up at the Jackson Hole airport, her porter picks up her three suitcases and skis. While walking to the plane, he has only the suitcases. When he reaches the plane, he has the skis again.


    Factual errors
    During the office scenes, looking through the office window, obvious toy cars were used to simulate the highway (that could be seen from outside when the helicopter first landed).


    Chance remarks about a "poison well" spewing "hydrogen sulfate." It is actually hydrogen sulfide which is most often found in oil well situations. Hydrogen sulfate describes the compound which is sulfuric acid and is generally not gaseous. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas and it is poisonous.


    Revealing mistakes
    During the office scenes, looking through the office window, obvious toy cars were used to simulate the highway (that could be seen from outside when the helicopter first landed).


    When the Hellfighters are fighting the first oil well fire, they explode nitro glycerine over the oil rig to extinguish the fire. After the explosion, the fire is still burning!


    The Australian driller takes off his mask a decent distance away from the poison well fire and dies nearly instantly. Yet Greg is right under the well and has a hole in his hose going directly into the closed environment of his mask and is only knocked out.


    Revealing mistakes
    In the last scene, after the 3 oil fires are blown out, Chance is holding the guide rope to the control head. In the background you can see that the pipe stem is split and separated. In the next shot, all 3 drill stems are intact with flanges, to secure the control head to.



    Memorable Quotes


    Filming Locations
    Conroe, Texas, USA
    Baytown, Texas, USA
    (Goose Creek Oilfield)
    Casper, Wyoming, USA
    Gillette, Wyoming, USA
    Jackson Airport, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA
    Stage 32, Universal Studios - 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA
    William P. Hobby Airport - 7800 Airport Boulevard, Houston, Texas, USA

    Best Wishes
    Keith
    London- England

    Edited 14 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Hellfighters is a 1968 American film starring John Wayne
    and featuring Katharine Ross, Bruce Cabot,
    Jim Hutton, Jay C. Flippen and Vera Miles.
    The movie, directed by Andrew V. McLaglen,
    is about a group of oil well firefighters,
    based loosely on the life of Red Adair. Adair, "Boots" Hansen,
    and "Coots" Matthews, served as technical advisors on the film.


    Hellfighters was for the most part negatively received.


    Apart from the exciting footage of oil-well fires,
    I thought this film was utter tosh, and Duke was at his hammy worse.


    Everything seemed wrong to me, the overacting of Katherine Ross and Jim Hutton,
    right down to Bruce Cabot, trying to act asleep, by snoring stupidly.
    In The John Wayne Scrapbook, this film is quite correctly classed
    as a turkey, and it's not hard to see why!!


    It was like a re-incarnation of Tycoon
    an equally bad film.


    It should have been an exciting film, but the results were
    soon forgotten, Duke apparently, spending most of his time,
    off set, playing chess.
    Like me, the critics were not kind, perhaps you will be??


    Look out for a couple of Duke 'Pals'
    Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales as Hernando (houseboy) (uncredited)
    Chuck Roberson as a Firefighter in airplane (uncredited)



    User Review

    Quote

    I love this movie!,
    18 June 2005
    Author: bkgmoonstar from United States


    My ex-husband was a huge John Wayne fan and had me watch every JW movie over and over. This was my favorite. The acting and script are not the point of watching this movie. The attitudes, clothes(especially the women's), and the sets are Soooo Sixties. My favorite thing is the "window" in the office. If you look closely you can see it isn't a window at all, it is a miniature of a highway(like a miniature railroad), but it is supposed to look like the view out the "window". I'm sure that was state-of-the-art in the late 60's. Katherine Ross is fabulous and wears the best clothes. Jim Hutton is quite handsome. John Wayne acts like....John Wayne. If you're a JW fan you'll recognize most of the cast. Great fun!!!!

    Best Wishes
    Keith
    London- England

    Edited 4 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Nice fires Shame about the rest.


    Funny, Universal 8 issued a 200ft (about 8-9 minutes)super 8 digest of this movie and it actually told all of the story pretty well.


    Tycoon now there is a bad movie :stunned::dead:

  • What if Hell fighters was never made then what would you have to complain about the next bad movie JW made? As far as I am concerned every movie he made is good and I consider every time I watch one a gift the is no one like him and there will never be. Also Tycon is a very rare movie as far as I am concened not to mention in COLOR in 1947 most movies were still black and white someone put up a lot of loot, and it is a twonderful movie. Next thing you know someone is going to say Donovans Reef is a bad movie. :cowboy:

    NOT THE BRANDY YOU DOPE!

  • Gotta chime in on this one -


    Personally, I have never liked this movie, mostly because of the Katherine Ross character. Whiny, petulant, YUCK!


    For all the times the movie was started, I never made it to the end of the movie until the last time (which was a couple of years ago). The latter part of the movie was kind of interesting, not enough to redeem the whole thing, but surprisingly decent.


    JOHNWAYNEABE, don't take it so seriously. Surely you've heard the phrase "Different strokes for different folks," right? That's what makes the world go around, and that means there are movies that you like and movies that I like, and we can both be happy, even if we think there are some stinkers out there :rolleyes: .


    Mrs. C :angel1:

  • If we are liked the same type of men/women and cars wouldn't life being boring!


    Even John Wayne admitted that half his films should be buried. The joy is the sheer wealth of material available to the collector and the right to select your likes and dislikes.


    Personally, I quite like The Conquer and can watch and enjoy it as the adventure story it is where as I know a lot of JW fans cringe when the film's name comes up in conversation. Again it is a personal choice and a decision for the viewer.


    Hellfighters is an exciting idea for a movie but it was delivered in such a way as it made for a pretty poor movie. Blame for this as in a lot of movies is poor script. planning and direction. Sometimes this can be corrected whilst the movie is in production some times not. The actors are only delivering the lines given to them
    and most of the film production is beyond their control. All actors make bad movies for a variety of reasons. No one is excempt


    In Tycoon, am sorry it is awful I wouldn't care if was the only technicolor movie in the world that existed I wouldn't want to see it again.


    As the saying goes "one man's meat is another man's poison"

  • I had never really watched this movie all the way thru until over the Christmas holidays-I did.I liked it.
    The one scene that I vividly remember is toward the last of the movie-after Chance had gotten out of the game.The crew got in a situation that they couldn't handle-of course Chance gets the call.When he arrives on the scene on that plane and the cargo door drops open.There he stands,bigger than life,he doesn't say a word but by his look-he says I am here-everything is going to be OK.

  • I loved this movie, living in alberta which is very big in the oil and gas industry made me appreciate it a bit more. My friend's father is a "hellfighter" as they refer to it as.


    Strong performances, Jim Hutton and the duke worked well together, just like in the Green Berets.


    Katherine ross i enjoyed and did NOT think she was whiny and you say, she was tough in her role. If anyone had to be called whiny it would be Madelyn (vera Miles).



    -IHW

  • I particularly liked this movie. The length is fine because there is room to build the characters of the movie and the fire scenes are impressive. I own the Region 1 DVD that has some production notes but strangely enough the trailer that is announced on the back cover of the DVD is not included.
    There was a short piece on the making of the movie in a Dutch magazine of that time that had a picture of John Wayne drving in a special terrain buggy on the set, the particular vehicle is not even in the movie. I too think Katherine Ross was good in her part, and Jim Hutton is believable as co-star.

  • It's been a while that this thread has been talked about, so here goes.


    This movie is not a more John Wayne great, but I do like it. The acting is great and the players work well together. I think that Katherine Ross is a very sexy woman. She was and probably is the hottest woman on screen. Her beauty is real and she plays her part well. I like her in this movie playing opposite Jim Hutton. They have such great chemistry. Shame that she and Duke made only one movie together. I wonder how she felt about Duke?


    Jim Hutton is a very likable guy. This is one of two movies he plays with Duke and he gives a fine performance. Vera Miles is a very good actress and I like her in this movie too. Then there is Jay C. Flippen gives a fine performance. I wasn't aware that the wheel chair was for real. Flippen was confined to it before his death. He is good.


    As for Bruce Cabot, Edward Faulkner, Barbara Stuart, they were good backup players in the movie. This movie is full of great shots of oil well fires. They are always eye catchers, and the story is good. I don't like the ending; it looks like they try to end it as if they have only a few seconds left and try to cram in an ending.


    Overall, it is one of my favorite Duke movie.


    Cheers :cool:



    Quote

    "When you come slam bang up against trouble, it never looks half as bad if you face up to it"

    - John Wayne quote

  • The action scenes on Hellfighters are great but the stories in between do drag it down and could have been improved so much.


    Worth watching for the action scenes but not one of my favourites.

  • I enjoyed this movie, but then I have enjoyed all of his movies. There is one scene in this movie that I really enjoy.

    "One day an angery husband is going to show up and turn your prat into a punchboard."

    You can roll a turd in powdered sugar but that doesn’t make it a doughnut.

  • As I recall, I read somewhere that Katherine Ross did not like working with the Duke because of his conservative outlook, which is strange because she married Sam Elliott, who I believe is also very conservative.

  • In light of today's technology, it really amused my kids to watch them using the car phones.

    Tbone



    "I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please."

  • Hi,
    I like the movie and have to agree, anything with John Wayne in it is all right by me! But, I do have to say that casting Vera Miles in the part as John Wayne's wife did not work for me. It just did not click like when he works with Maureen O' Hara or Laureen Bacall. But, I do like the way Duke and Jim Hutton work off of each other. To bad they didn't make more films together.
    Stacy

  • As I recall, I read somewhere that Katherine Ross did not like working with the Duke because of his conservative outlook, which is strange because she married Sam Elliott, who I believe is also very conservative.


    It wasn't all a political conflict. John Wayne could be tough sometimes especially when he was paying the bill and making a movie to honor a real person.

  • Here is another Film Facts entry from Clive Woolands (see this post for more information) -


    Howdy folks, its time for another film fact, this time it is from
    Hellfighters.


    Producer: Robert Arthur, Screenplay: Clair Huffaker, Cinematographer:
    William H. Clothier, Art Directors: Frank Arrigo, Alexander Golitzen,
    Editor: Folmar Blangsted, Distribution: Universal Pictures,
    Locations: Texas, Wyoming
    Box office takings (US): $3.481 million,
    Date of Production: 1968.


    Katherine Ross and Vera Miles worked together again 15 years later in a made for TV movie called Travis McGee (1983), about a jaded private
    eye. It was also directed by Andrew V. McLaglen.
    Houston born actor Randy Quaid claims that as a high school kid, he rang up John Wayne's hotel during the shoot of Hellfighters and impersonated the actor. "I said, `This is John Wayne. Got any messages for me?'" he said. "And they gave me his messages. That gave me a lot of confidence, and I started performing."
    Jim Hutton, who died aged just 45 in 1979, is the father of actor Timothy Hutton. When he received his best supporting actor Oscar for Ordinary People at the 1981 Academy Awards, Timothy Hutton dedicated it to his father.
    The distinctive, jaunty score for Hellfighters was composed by Leonard Rosenman. The John Wayne film came midway through a career that peaked in the 1970's with back-to-back Academy Awards for Barry Lyndon (1975) and Bound For Glory (1976).

  • I just picked up this movie yesterday, and I have always liked it. It has Duke, Jim Hutton who I loved as Ellery Queen, Katherine Ross who I just enjoy looking at and action. Cripes what more do you want.

    If we're honest there are many Duke movies, that are not really very good, but because of our love for him we tend to overlook the flaws. Just like my wife does with me:stunned:

    "John Wayne is not just an actor and a very fine actor,John Wayne is the United States of America."