Saturday, June 27, 2009
Day 134: Hellfighters (1968) - Rank 3/5
The plot is familiar: the old veteran works with a new apprentice. The veteran is curmudgeony and has a rocky marriage. The apprentice falls in love with the veteran's daughter and after a shaky start, they live happily ever after and even the veteran and his wife patch things up. Despite this predictable formula, I still found the film fairly enjoyable for two reasons: good acting on the part of the primary cast and a unique angle to the storyline.
John Wayne is our old pro and Jim Hutton is his young protege (This was the second film within a week that I watched that had Jim Hutton in a predominant role - Major Dundee being the other. Both times he turned in a decent performance that warranted my taking note of his name in the credits. I went to check out what he'd done lately only to learn that he died of cancer in his early forties). Their line of work? They put out oil fires. I think if I were younger when I saw the film I would have become more engrossed in the film simply for the fires and explosions, because the special effects are pretty astounding, for 1968 or today. As you can figure, the ladies in their lives (Vera Miles and Katherine Ross) don't approve of their hazardous line of work, but they overcome this obstacle and stay by their husbands' sides. Based on that though, I honestly wonder who the studio marketed the film towards. After all, you've got blazing oil fires juxtaposed with heart-to-heart talks and that's not easy to do. The only other film I know that came pretty close was "There Will Be Blood," though Daniel Plainview's heart-to-heart with his "brother" turned out less pleasantly than did the conversation between Hutton and Ross. Go figure.
Couldn't Find a Trailer, So Here's The Opening Scene