Classic Film Review- Hellfighters


Hellfighters is one of John Wayne’s non-Western films and probably one of the best in that outfit. Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, it features drama, thrills, fire, danger, and explosions. The perfect mix!

Chance Buckman owns an oil-fire fighting organization based in Houston. He’s been divorced for 20 years and though he and his wife love one another, his wife cannot bare his risky and dangerous business. His daughter finds him after he gets injured while putting out a fire and she wants to get to know him. She quickly falls in love with Greg, his assistant.

This reunites Chance with is wife Madelyn and she is once again pulled into his firefighting world. He chooses to leave his business behind for his wife and take a corporate job, though he longs to be back into the game.

When a fire at a Venezuela mine puts his daughter and son-in-law in harms way, he must take the chance to return to his duty as one of the best oil-fire fighters in the world. 

There is a theory that John Wayne does not really act, he just plays himself. While I see that in a lot of films, in this one I saw him play a different character. Vera Miles, who has also appeared in The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, does an amazing job as his conflicted wife who loved her husband, but cannot stand to see him be put in danger time and again.

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Language, Mild thematic elements


  • John Wayne as Chance Buckman
  • Katharine Ross as Tish Buckman
  • Jim Hutton as Greg Parker
  • Vera Miles as Madelyn Buckman
  • Jay C. Flippen as Jack Lomax
  • Bruce Cabot as Joe Horn
  • Barbara Stuart as Irene Foster
  • Edward Faulkner as George Harris
  • Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez as Hernando
  • Edmund Hashim as Colonel Valdez
  • Alberto Morin as General Lopez
  • Howard Finch as Ed ‘Cal’ Calhoun
  • Valentin de Vargas as Amal Bokru
  • Frances Fong as Madame Loo
  • Alan Caillou as Harry York
  • John Alderson as Jim Hatch

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