Film Review: Fire (Irwin Allen)

Missing from DVD for a long time, finally we have some Irwin Allen classics coming back out for release and thank goodness – this little gems great fun!

The Premise

A small spark becomes a blaze… hang on Irwin – you’ve done this before? Oh it’s in a forest!!!

The Disasters Faced

Fire, falling trees, blowing up your car, blowing up your helicopter, rolling your car, being left inside a car or going on a school trip in a van with the worlds worst teacher ever. Transport is bad!

The Execution

Made for TV in 1977 when Irwin Allen was still very much a big character in the film industry, this is your equivalent of what we get now in these long drawn out 4 hour specials. Irwin however decides to cram it all into two hours anyway and cleverly uses all the budget he has to great effect. He brings in stars and rolls out Ernest Borgnine to play quite possibly the nicest man in disaster movie history who ends up driving round from drama to drama trying to save people as he goes. A lot of the film owes itself to Ernest for being earnest!  I’ve not wanted to cheer someone on for saving so many lemming like people for a long while. For a 1977 TV movie it surpassed my expectations and looks infinity better put together than say Beyond the Poseidon or When Time Ran Out.

The Effects

Real fire and stock footage is used often and with the cameras staying close to the flames, you feel much more of the sense of urgency than the actual flames themselves would really portray. It’s clever but it works. Some of the stunts still look very good too. Things were so much better when they didn’t resort to CGI for every tiny thing.

Why It’s Worth Watching

The fire is up and at it by the ten minute mark and you’re drip fed action throughout the film. The characters as a whole are likeable although you’ll want to slap the teacher for being the wettest woman since Ariel. You should play drinking games for every time she has to be checked on, or that Vera Miles calls someone on the phone just to panic, or when Alex Cord’s very deep voice makes you want to laugh when he’s trying to bicker with his wife. It’s perfectly cheesy and that’s why we love it.

Favourite Character

It has to be Ernest Borgnine’s Sam – everyone’s lovable hero.

Best Death

Relatively light of big deaths, the biggest is saved for the end… you knew poor Ernie was going to be a cropper. The number one rule is never be the nice guy – you’ll never make it. Instead you’ll roly poly down a cliff edge in a jeep in a fireball. Toodles!

Weirdest Moment

There are a few but it’s a toss up between Lloyd Nolan whom spends most of the movie trapped in a car and then sat on a sofa with virtually no lines, or the rubbish teacher who decides to nearly die of shock! Return to life by the power of smelling salts!!!

Conclusion

Daft in a way only Irwin Allen knows how, everything looks fun, everyone is potentially on the death list and the film is tightly woven so the TV values do not shine through. A great product of its time. Allen fans need to see this.

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