gasoline over it. you set it on fire. then the actors run in and put it out. Usually you see the stuntmen on fire here it‘s the actors who‘re on fire.‘ All ofwhich. pretty succinctly explains why the firefighting scenes in Baekdraft are without doubt the most convincing ever to be committed to celluloid.
‘We could‘ve done this all in long-shot.‘ adds Scott Glenn. fresh from his stint as Jodie Foster's superior officer in The Silence ofthe Lambs. ‘We could‘ve used the stunt guys a lot. but it just wouldn’t have had that punch. Everyone in the Chicago Fire Department wanted to help us as much as they could to make the movie look as authentic as it could. because basically these firefighters are the real true heroes ofour society today. Their lives are dedicated to saving the lives ofother people.‘
Boasting a cast that many other movies would kill for. as the Baldwin-Glenn-Russell trio are joined by the likes ofJennifer Jason Leigh (Mr B.’s quirky love interest). Donald Sutherland (the Hannibal Lecter ofpyromania) and Robert de
Niro (dedicated arson investigator). :
Backdrafr marks something of a return to the disaster movies of the 705. where a myriad of subplots pad out the passages between the mayhem you‘ve paid your money to
William Baldwin. Kurt Russell and Scott Glenn lead the firefighting pack in Backdratt.
see. While the sibling rivalry between Russell and Baldwin shares the central spotlight with the search for clues in a series of recent fatally explosive arson attacks. all manner of asides into big city corruption. failed marriages. and a distinct swerve into Thomas Harris territory with Sutherland‘s advice-giving loony expand the piece to the point
where the absurdly bombastic climax ?
takes about halfan hour to tie it all up again.
Still. even if director Ron Howard ( Cocoon, Parenthood) and his fine cinematographer Mikael Salomon. contrive to give much of the footage the burnished glow of a particularly insistent beer commercial. the fire scenes are simply staggering enough to compensate. Having gone through several weeks ofon the job training with a local Chicago firehouse. the principal cast apparently gained more and more confidence in dealing with the film‘s many huge conflagrations as the shoot progressed. enabling the film makers to capture the moments they have. It was a case of singed eyebrows all round. and for firefighters Glenn and Baldwin (younger brother of Alec and last glimpsed himselfas one ofthe FIarliners) a slightly ﬂame-grilled feeling after certain scenes required them to be virtually set alight.
‘We did things on the set that Ron later told us he could never have approached us to do.‘ concurs Baldwin. while Russell pays testimony to the team spirit on the production; ‘()ften. the safety aspect was in the hands of another actor. because he'd be the only one close enough to help you out. If we have a situation where we‘ve got to set Billy Baldwin on fire and Scott Glenn is the only one beside him with a fire extinguisher then we‘ve all got to believe in Scott Glenn and trust that he's not gonna drop the ball.‘
Veteran of a slew ofJohn Carpenter action pictures. and these days well known as Mr Goldie Hawn. of the three stars Russell‘s attitude seems to have remained every bit as slam-bang go-ahead as the character he portrays in the movie. ‘I wanted to do Backdrafi because I was interested in real physical acting. You know'l‘om Mix did some pretty amazing stuff on horseback. and Errol Flynn put some amazing physical stuff on screen too. I'm laying down the gauntlet right here and now for any other actor to challenge the physical work that we put in on this movie. because I don‘t think it can be toppedf
Back draft opens wide/y across Scotland on Friday .3 A ugust
I Lite ls Cheap. . .but toilet paper is expensive (18) Wayne Wang's latest offering concerns a cowboy-like Man-With-No-Name and his mysterious suitcase. The bizarre nature of the film-making(and the splatteringof naughty words) left the American censors reeling. See review. ()pens Sun 4.
I Listen Up: The Lives Of Ouinchonest l3) ()ne of America's top musicians and producers is the subject of [his documentary. which juxtaposes his pivotal role in American music with his family life. See preview. ()pcns Fri 3.
I MisterJohnson( 12) Director Bruce Beresford follows up Drivng .lliss Daisy with another tale of race relations. this time set in (‘olonial West Africa of the Ills. ()pens' 'l'hurs' l.
I Prayer or The Roller Boys
(15) Teenage star (‘orey l laim goes undercover to wreck a drugs ring run by fascist paramilitary gang on rollerblade skates. the Rollerboys. ()pens Fri 3. I Rock-A-Doodle ( 17) Young Iidmond has to enter the animated world of his storybook in order to track down singing rooster ('hanticlcer when his own farmyard home is threatened by flood. ()pens Hi 2. I Racketeer ( PU) Disney technical wizardry brings little-known comic book hero ('liff Secord to the big screen in his more dashing role ofl‘he Roeketeer. When his girlfriend is kidnapped by Nazis. it'son with the rocket pack and off to the rescue. See review. ()pens Fri 2. I Teenage MutantNinja Turtles 2: The Secret OlThe 0028 (l’( i ) ()uick screen return for the adolescent amphibians. this time battling to keep mutant-causing green ooze from falling into the wrong hands. and rapping with Vanilla Ice. See review. ()pens Fri 26. I Whore (l8) Neverone to beat about the bush. Ken RUssell‘s latest film. an adaptation of David l lines‘ play Bondage. is an uncompromising portrayal of a day in the life of a prostitute. A commendable attempt to get beyond exploitation and explore the nature of sleazy sexuality. See feature. ()pens f’i'i 3b,
The List 2(iJuly — 8 August 199121