Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HELLFIGHTERS (1968)

Co-star Katharine Ross might have called HELLFIGHTERS "...the biggest piece of crap I've ever done!" and James Coburn might have once called director Andrew V. McLaglen a "hack", but I thought HELLFIGHTERS was entertaining enough.

John Wayne and Jim Hutton are the two Big Kahuna's at an oil well firefighting outfit. They come across as so rugged and tough that you're almost lead to believe that they just drop their pants, saunter out to the raging inferno and club it to death with their giant raging peckers, but no they have to use actual tools like tractors, high-pressure water cannons and nitroglycerin (to displace the oxygen feeding the fire). The firefighting scenes are exciting and the fires themselves are huge, but the funniest part of the movie is the women in their lives. Wayne's wife, well, ex-wife left him years ago (even though she's still in love with him) because she was just too goddamn scared that Wayne was going to get killed.  Haha. And as fate would have it Jim marries Wayne's daughter! So now for the rest of the movie both women sit on the sidelines and worry nonstop about these two firefighting superstuds they're married to. I found this to be hilarious.

Sexist subplot aside the firefighting scenes were dramatic, well shot and educational (I had no idea how they put out oil well fires). Worth a watch...as long as you have a sense of humor. I would actually like to see a more realistic and grittier remake of this film.

Fun Fact: McLaglen went on to direct the legendary bad movie MITCHELL that was immortalized for all time by MST3K. "Baby oil?! NO!!!!"
Good grief.