Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Action / Adventure / Romance
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
Edward Faulkner as George Harris
Barbara Stuart as Irene Foster
Edmund Hashim as Colonel Valdez
Valentin De Vargas as Amal Bokru
Frances Fong as Madame Loo
Chance Buckman’s daughter Tish is summoned to his bedside by Chance’s friend Greg Parker, when he is wounded fighting an oil rig fire. Tish didn’t have much of a chance to know her father after her mother, Madelyn, left him years earlier because she couldn’t endure the danger of his firefighting occupation. Tish asks Greg to show her more about the job, and he does so. Greg takes Tish with him when he is called to Louisiana to fight an oil rig fire. They return to the hospital when they find that Chance has regained consciousness. Chance is furious with Greg for calling his daughter, and then Greg tells Chance that they just got married that morning. The wedding news brings the family together, and re-sparks the fire that was smoldering between Chance and his ex-wife Madelyn. Chase decides to get out of the business and gives his company to Greg as a wedding present. He takes a desk job in Houston and remarries Madelyn. Tish at first has her mother’s issue with the danger of the job, but finds that the stress is more tolerable if she can be there with her husband. This bond is tested when Greg gets an assignment fighting a string of oil fires in Venezuela that were started by guerrillas. Due to the danger of the fires and the political situation, Greg asks Tish to wait for him in Caracas. However, she flies to Houston to seek her father’s help instead. Madelyn is apprehensive, but knowing how much he hates his desk job, allows him to go if she can go as well. Together Chance and Greg are able to put out the fires, as their wives support them.
Notes: Hellfighters is based loosely on the life of Red Adair, who served as a technical advisor on the film. Vera Miles also starred in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, also starring John Wayne, in 1962, after appearing opposite such stars as James Stewart in Vertigo, and Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man .