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DonRocks

"Firefox" (1982) - Director, Producer, and Star Clint Eastwood in a $21 Million Thriller, with $20 Million Spent on Special Effects

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DonRocks   

I'm watching "Firefox" for the first time since it was released in 1982. I distinctly remember the opening scene, with Clint Eastwood jogging (although, for some reason, I thought I remembered him jogging without a shirt). When I was 21 years old, I thought to myself, 'My *God*, he looks old' (he was 52). Now, my impression when I just saw that same scene was, 'My *God*, he looks young.'

Unfortunately, other than seeing the movie in the theater vs. on Amazon, there's only one variable in this equation. <_<

(Actually, in a later scene, Eastwood was standing around without a shirt - he really wasn't in top shape for this film, even for a 52-year-old.)

I had completely forgotten how blatantly Soviet this film was - sort of like an earlier version of "The Hunt for Red October" (1990) which I thought was just awful. However, I was studying Russian in the late 1980s, and knew enough to pick out the flaws in Red October; when I saw Firefox, Russian was like Chinese to me, so I had absolutely no idea how contrived it was. I do find it interesting just how John McCain-like Clint Eastwood's Vietnam flashback was.

I also didn't realize that Firefox, like all of Malpaso's (Eastwood's Production company's) pictures since, has no opening credits after the title was displayed.

One thing I'm noticing about Firefox is the incredible attention that's being paid to seemingly mundane detail (which I consider to be a huge asset; others consider it to be dull) - not a lot of action is occurring, but the Soviet atmosphere is being slowly and surely cultivated, despite the film not being shot in the Soviet Union (for Cold War reasons) - I suppose some might find the entire structure ponderous; I find it fascinating, in the way that I find Bruckner's symphonies fascinating. Just don't watch Firefox looking for an "Eastwood action movie," because you're going to spend a lot of time trying to find it.

That said, Eastwood's heavily Americanized Russian accent would *never* pass muster when scrutinized by even a casual speaker, much less suspicious KGB agents screening him at a security gate - also, doesn't *anybody* around the perimeter of the ultra-secure facility know what their own pilot looks like?

The special effects used for the flying scenes were known as "Reverse Bluescreen" photography, and were pioneered by John Dykstra just for this film - Dykstra was the special-effects lead for the original "Star Wars," and is almost surely a household name to anyone who cares about special effects. When the second Firefox is chasing the first, it becomes *extremely* obvious that this is a riff on Star Wars - you'll know the scene when you see it.

Interestingly, not long after this, there's a scene that's a riff on, believe it or not, my favorite scene from "Wings" (1927), one pilot showing respect to the other.

And after *that*, there's yet another Star War's riff - recall, "Use the force, Luke."

If you want a detailed plot synopsis, there's a good one on *** SPOILER ALERT *** IMDB.

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