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Red Skies of Montana Reviews

Raging forest fires in spectacular Technicolor are the main attraction here. Widmark stars as a veteran firefighter of the US Forestry Service who takes his men paratrooping into the heart of yet another inferno. This fire proves disastrous, however, and it consumes all the brave firefighters except Widmark, who somehow survives. Upon his recovery, Widmark is confronted by Hunter, the son of one of the men who perished. Hunter accuses Widmark of cowardly fleeing the flames, leaving his men to die. Since Widmark blacked out during the incident and has no clear recollection of what actually did happen, Hunter's accusations shake him deeply. Apparently Hunter's claims are heard by the Forestry Service, and Widmark is given the safe task of training new recruits. Hunter, however, follows in his father's footsteps and joins the ranks of the firefighters. Eventually, Widmark is given the chance to redeem himself when another forest fire erupts. Accompanied by his rookies, Widmark goes into battle. During the fire, Hunter continues his belligerent attitude towards Widmark until the older man risks his life to save him. Shamed by this heroic deed, Hunter admits he was wrong about Widmark. Though the plot is fairly standard stuff, the scenes of men battling the raging forest fires are well crafted, vivid, and exciting. The cast is filled with good supporting characters including Boone, Crenna, and a young Charles Bronson (still named Buchinsky at this point). Just before the film's release, the studio panicked and thought the public might assume the title RED SKIES OF MONTANA meant that the film was a western. The title was changed to SMOKE JUMPERS in New York and other test areas, but prints released to television retained the original title.