Hellfighters is directed by Andrew V. Mclaglen and written by Clair Huffaker. It stars John Wayne, Jim Hutton, Katharine Ross, Vera Miles, Jay C. Flippen, Bruce Cabot, Barbara Stuart and Edward Faulkner. Music is by Leonard Rosenman and cinematography by William H. Clothier. Plot follows a group of oil well fire fighters led by Chance Buckman (Wayne), it pitches them into action while also showing the strain on the family life. It's based on real life oil well fire fighter Red Adair who served as one of the advisers on the film.
Too long at two hours in length, and spending too much time on family strife yet still managing to under write the ladies of the piece, Hellfighters has invariably over the years garnered mixed reactions. It's not a great film, but it is exciting in parts (the fire fighting is very well done) and it does give us an adequate glimpse into the work that the brave oil well fire fighters do.
Narrative is strung together in simple fashion. A fire somewhere in the world needs capping, so Chance Buckman and his loyal men go off and do their stuff, then comes a period of family strife in the form of Buckman's wife and daughter, the first is estranged, the latter just married to Chance's right hand man (Hutton), and then onto the next fire, family strife, next fire and etc etc. It's hardly rich story telling, but the cast are engaging enough to make the screenplay work and then it's the finale, where a series of fires need capping in Venezuela, all while the boys are under fire from Guerrillas because it's a hot zone of another type! And then? Well it's just as you would expect for a John Wayne hero adventure movie.
It has faults but it's honest with them, and there's plenty enough to enjoy and admire regardless. 7/10