Red Skies of Montana


1h 29m 1952

Film Details

Also Known As
Fire, Fire Devils, Hellfire, Smoke Jumpers, Wild Winds, Wildfire
Release Date
Feb 1952
Premiere Information
World premiere in Missoula, MT: 20 Jan 1952; Los Angeles opening: 23 Jan 1952
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Gila, New Mexico, United States; Missoula, Montana, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,865ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

Cliff Mason, a veteran foreman of the Forest Service's elite smoke jumper unit, is called out with his men on an emergency, despite the fact that they have not rested in three days. Accompanied by R. A. "Pop" Miller and four other men, Cliff leaves the smoke jumper base at Missoula, Montana for a fire deep in the woods of Bugle Peak in the Selway National Forest. Hours later, at headquarters, superintendent Richard Dryer becomes worried because Cliff has not yet radioed in. The next day, Dick heads a search and rescue operation and is stunned to find only an hysterical Cliff wandering through the devastated region. Cliff is rushed to the hospital, where he gradually recovers, although he cannot remember how he got separated from his men, or why he was the only one to survive. Upon his return home, Cliff is greeted by Pop's son Ed, who is also a smoke jumper. Ed expresses genuine concern for Cliff, but Cliff, sensitive about his lack of memory and worried about his possible role in Pop's death, is rude to the younger man. Soon after, a board of review conducts a hearing into the matter, and Cliff grows increasingly irritable after several grueling days of questioning. Cliff's paranoia about being considered a coward who deserted his men escalates, despite the assurances of his devoted wife Peg and Dick, who places him in charge of training. Ed continues to question Cliff, asking him why he was found in the protected rockslide area while the corpses of his men were found on an exposed ridge dozens of yards away. Cliff and Ed's relationship deteriorates as Ed's suspicions about Cliff grow and Cliff reacts even more bitterly. One night, an emergency crew is called out to repair a downed power line, and when crew member Boise is hit by a live line, Cliff heroically saves him, although Ed casually remarks that it was not necessary to prove his bravery. Soon after, despite having been cleared by the board of review, Cliff confides to Peg that he is plagued by doubts about his courage. Later, Dick gives Ed a watch that was mistakenly sent to Winkler's family, and Ed recognizes it as his father's. Upset that the watch was found on the ridge, rather than the rockslide, Ed confronts Cliff, whose memory is finally jogged by the item. Cliff recounts that when the fire began to race along the treetops, he urged his men to dig in and seek protection in the rockslide, but they got spooked and ran. Cliff attempted to stop Pop, but Pop, in a blind panic, knocked Cliff to the ground. Ed furiously accuses Cliff of deserting his men and goes AWOL, driving his motorcycle day and night, then taking an airplane to Bugle Peak, where he finds Pop's identification bracelet on the ridge, not on the rockslide, where Cliff says he saw Pop last. Believing he has obtained proof that Cliff abandoned his men on the ridge, Ed returns to base, only to discover that Cliff and another team of men have been sent to Carson Canyon. There, Cliff and the men are battling a fierce blaze. Despite their apprehension about Cliff's leadership, the men succeed in beating back the fire, although high winds threaten to restart it. Cliff requests more equipment and men, and even though Dick had fired Ed for his grudge against Cliff, Ed joins the team heading for Carson Canyon. When he arrives, however, Ed tracks down Cliff and fights with him. Ed breaks his leg when he tumbles off a small ridge, and Cliff immediately returns to the main encampment to summon help. After sending two men to retrieve Ed, Cliff orders the other men to dig foxholes, as the heightened blaze is about to pass over them and burying themselves is their only hope for survival. The men protest, preferring to run, but acquiesce when Cliff insists. While he is being rescued, Ed is surprised to discover that Cliff is responsible, and when he is brought back to the others, Cliff helps to cover him in a foxhole. Later, after the fire has passed, the men smile gratefully at Cliff, and Ed, realizing that he was wrong about Cliff, apologizes. Back at headquarters, a relieved Peg and Mrs. Miller learn that Cliff and Ed are safe, as the men radio in for reinforcements.

Film Details

Also Known As
Fire, Fire Devils, Hellfire, Smoke Jumpers, Wild Winds, Wildfire
Release Date
Feb 1952
Premiere Information
World premiere in Missoula, MT: 20 Jan 1952; Los Angeles opening: 23 Jan 1952
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Gila, New Mexico, United States; Missoula, Montana, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,865ft (10 reels)

Articles

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.


Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute.

After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland.

TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place:

8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960)
10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963)
1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967)
4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976)

Charles Bronson, 1921-2003

Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81.

He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him.

Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954).

Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West.

These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977).

Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Tcm Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13Th - Tcm Remembers Charles Bronson This Saturday, Sept. 13Th 2003.

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.

Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute. After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland. TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place: 8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960) 10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963) 1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967) 4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976) Charles Bronson, 1921-2003 Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81. He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him. Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954). Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West. These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977). Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Richard Crenna, 1927-2002


Actor Richard Crenna, the versatile, highly respected character actor of television and film, died on December 17 of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles. He was 75.

Born on November 30, 1927 in Los Angeles, California, Crenna was the son of a pharmacist father and a mother who managed a number of small hotels in the Los Angles area the family owned, where Crenna was raised. At the tender age of 11, he was encouraged by a teacher to audition for a radio show, "Boy Scout Jamboree" at the nearby KFI-AM radio studio. Little did he realize that it would be the start of a very long and prosperous career.

Crenna found steady radio work for the next several years, culminating in 1948 with his breakthrough role of the goofy, squeaky-voiced Walter Denton in the hit radio series Our Miss Brooks. Crenna carried the momentum of his success to television when he spent four more seasons as Walter on Our Miss Brooks (1952-1956). Almost immediately after the run of that show, Crenna scored another hit series as Luke McCoy in the rustic comedy The Real McCoys (1957-1963) co-starring Walter Brennan.

Although he had been acting in films since the early '50s Crenna roles didn't come to critical notice until the mid '60s, appearing in Robert Wise's acclaimed The Sand Pebbles (1966) as the stalwart gunboat captain co-starring Steve McQueen; Terence Young's intense thriller, Wait Until Dark (1967), as a criminal who terrorizes a blind Audrey Hepburn; and another Robert Wise film, the Gertrude Lawrence biopic Star! (1968) playing the high profile role of Richard Aldrich opposite Julie Andrews.

Crenna's profile slowed down in the '70s, despite a brief return to television comedy in Norman Lear's political satire All's Fair (1976-1977) with Bernadette Peters. That show may not have lasted long, but Crenna bounced back with a resurgence in the '80s with a string of hit character parts: Lawrence Kasden's stylish film noir Body Heat (1981), as Kathleen Turner's ill-fated husband; Ted Kotchoff's hit Rambo: First Blood (1982), as Colonel Samuel Trautman, Sylvester Stallone's former Commander; Gary Marshall's excellent coming-of-age tale The Flamingo Kid (1984), one of his best performances (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination) as a smooth, charismatic gin-rummy champ who takes Matt Dillon under his tutelage; and many other quality roles in theatrical and made for television movies.

At the time of his death, Crenna was a member of the Screen Actors Guild board of directors and had a recurring role in the hit CBS dramatic series Judging Amy. In addition to Penni, his wife of 47 years, Crenna is survived by a son, Richard, two daughters, Seana and Maria, and three granddaughters.

by Michael T. Toole

Richard Crenna, 1927-2002

Actor Richard Crenna, the versatile, highly respected character actor of television and film, died on December 17 of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles. He was 75. Born on November 30, 1927 in Los Angeles, California, Crenna was the son of a pharmacist father and a mother who managed a number of small hotels in the Los Angles area the family owned, where Crenna was raised. At the tender age of 11, he was encouraged by a teacher to audition for a radio show, "Boy Scout Jamboree" at the nearby KFI-AM radio studio. Little did he realize that it would be the start of a very long and prosperous career. Crenna found steady radio work for the next several years, culminating in 1948 with his breakthrough role of the goofy, squeaky-voiced Walter Denton in the hit radio series Our Miss Brooks. Crenna carried the momentum of his success to television when he spent four more seasons as Walter on Our Miss Brooks (1952-1956). Almost immediately after the run of that show, Crenna scored another hit series as Luke McCoy in the rustic comedy The Real McCoys (1957-1963) co-starring Walter Brennan. Although he had been acting in films since the early '50s Crenna roles didn't come to critical notice until the mid '60s, appearing in Robert Wise's acclaimed The Sand Pebbles (1966) as the stalwart gunboat captain co-starring Steve McQueen; Terence Young's intense thriller, Wait Until Dark (1967), as a criminal who terrorizes a blind Audrey Hepburn; and another Robert Wise film, the Gertrude Lawrence biopic Star! (1968) playing the high profile role of Richard Aldrich opposite Julie Andrews. Crenna's profile slowed down in the '70s, despite a brief return to television comedy in Norman Lear's political satire All's Fair (1976-1977) with Bernadette Peters. That show may not have lasted long, but Crenna bounced back with a resurgence in the '80s with a string of hit character parts: Lawrence Kasden's stylish film noir Body Heat (1981), as Kathleen Turner's ill-fated husband; Ted Kotchoff's hit Rambo: First Blood (1982), as Colonel Samuel Trautman, Sylvester Stallone's former Commander; Gary Marshall's excellent coming-of-age tale The Flamingo Kid (1984), one of his best performances (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination) as a smooth, charismatic gin-rummy champ who takes Matt Dillon under his tutelage; and many other quality roles in theatrical and made for television movies. At the time of his death, Crenna was a member of the Screen Actors Guild board of directors and had a recurring role in the hit CBS dramatic series Judging Amy. In addition to Penni, his wife of 47 years, Crenna is survived by a son, Richard, two daughters, Seana and Maria, and three granddaughters. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Smoke Jumpers, Fire, Fire Devils, Hellfire, Wild Winds and Wildfire. Although a August 6, 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Twentieth Century-Fox had purchased the novel Fire, by George R. Stewart, and would receive cooperation from the U.S. Forest Service in filming a picture based upon it, no source from that time confirms Stewart's contribution to Red Skies of Montana. Los Angeles Times reported that Wanda Tuchock would be writing the screenplay, with Linda Darnell set as the film's star. The project was put on hold until August 1949, however, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, and later 1949 Los Angeles Times news items announced William Lundigan and Stephen McNally as possible co-stars.
       Active pre-production of the picture did not begin until July 1950, as noted in Hollywood Reporter. The picture began production in Missoula, MT in September 1950, with Louis King directing and with Victor Mature, Jean Peters and John Lund as the stars. Due to injuries suffered by Mature and Lund, however, and the likelihood of bad weather, the project was "put off till spring," according to a September 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item. The production was abandoned, however, and in April 1951, Los Angeles Examiner reported that the screenplay was going to be completely rewritten, and that Glenn Ford was going to be the picture's star.
       Although Hollywood Reporter news items and studio publicity include Gayle Pace, Tony Linehan, Helen Westcott, Shirley Clarke, Russ Saunders, Bill Hale, Paul Dubov and technical advisor Fred Brauer in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. Harry Jackson, who served as the director of photography on the aborted 1950 production, filled in for director of photographer Charles G. Clarke when Clarke had to leave the project to begin location shooting on The Snows of Kilimanjaro (see below). As noted in Hollywood Reporter news items, portions of Red Skies of Montana were shot on location in Missoula. According to a July 6, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, a special camera crew shot footage of a forest fire near Gila, NM for inclusion in the film.
       Red Skies of Montana marked the motion picture debut of actor Richard Crenna (1927-2003). The studio used Art Cohn's story and Harry Kleiner's screenplay as the basis for a one-hour television production, entitled Smoke Jumpers, for the 20th Century-Fox Hour. Broadcast in November 1956, the telefilm was directed by Albert S. Rogell and starred Dan Duryea, Dean Jagger and Joan Leslie.