Make us your home page

Retro-review: Can Eastwood fly that plane? Really fly it?



firefox-clint-eastwood-movie-poster.jpgTODAY'S RETRO-REVIEW: Long before Firefox was a web-browsing software, it was a 1982 Cold War action flick starring Clint Eastwood, Freddie Jones and Nigel Hawthorne. It's based on a 1977 novel written by Craig Thomas.

THE PLOT: Mitchell Gant, a former Vietnam jetfighter pilot (Eastwood), is recruited to go into the Soviet Union and steal a prototype jet that's faster than any American jet and is invisible. Yep, the first Stealth-type fighter. Gant is specifically recruited because he had a Russian movie; the jet responds only if the pilot thinks in Russian. The story is loosely based on an actual event in which a Soviet fighter pilot defected to Japan in the mid '70s.

MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: The footage of the "Mother One" submarine breaking the surface is recycled from Ice Station Zebra.

SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: Because it was still very much a Cold War world in '82, filming in Russia was not possible. The city that subs in for Moscow? That's Vienna, Austria.

WHAT CRITICS SAID: "As Eastwood occupies the Firefox cockpit, surrounded by video screens and computer displays of flight patterns and missile trajectories, it looks as if Dirty Harry has died and gone to Atari heaven." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

WHY WE STILL LOVE IT: The end is never in doubt. Of course Gant makes it home. But how does he do it? And which of those who help him along the way will live? None. But they all get to see Gant fly off in the plane before they punch their ticket. I'm welling up just thinking about it.


5. "He did it. Damn, if he didn't actually do it."

4. "Feel free to continue your nocturnal site-seeing tour of our city."

3. "You will not, of course, make it to wherever you are going. Goodbye, Mr. Gant!"

2. "Gant, can you fly that plane? Really fly it?"

1. "Don't say anything. Your words would be useless, maybe even insulting. Just fly the damn plane."

[Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 3:25pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours