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Firefox (1982) Poster

(1982)

Trivia

The story is loosely based on an actual event in which a Soviet fighter pilot (Viktor Belenko) defected to Japan on September 6, 1976. Belenko was stationed in Chuguyekva, Primorsky Krai, RSFSR (Soviet Russia) where he flew a MiG-25 to Hakodate, Japan - during his defection he brought the pilot's manual where the USAF where American personnel evaluated and tested the aircraft. The USAF determined that the MiG-25 was more of an interceptor rather than a fighter-bomber (which the F-15 Eagle had a superior edge, later demonstrated by the Israeli Air Force where it was used in combat against Syrian MiGs (they also operated the MiG-25) with no losses). {This may or may not be significant - the MiG-25 flown by the Syrians would have been the "export" model - the versions of military aircraft most major nations sell are of lower performance than the home models.} The captured MiG was later dismantled by the Japanese technicians and returned to the Soviet Union.
Jump to: Cameo (1) | Spoilers (1)
The footage of the "Mother One" submarine breaking the surface is recycled from Ice Station Zebra (1968).
Author Craig Thomas' 1983 sequel to "Firefox", the novel "Firefox Down", is dedicated to Clint Eastwood. The dedication reads: "For Clint Eastwood - pilot of the Firefox".
Because his role in the movie required him to speak some Russian, Clint Eastwood prepared by studying the language with resources provided by the U.S. Military's Defense Language Institute in the Presidio of Monterey, California (which is just north of Carmel, where Eastwood lives).
Novelist Craig Thomas and his wife visited the set in Vienna, Austria at the invitation of Clint Eastwood.
The original plan was to use a Swedish JA 37 Viggen jet fighter as the Soviet aircraft, but the Swedish government refused permission.
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Notable technical specifications of the MiG-31 Firefox plane were that it was capable of Mach 6 speed which is a velocity six times the speed of sound; was too fast to be detected by radar and as such was invisible to it; contained an ultra-sophisticated weapons attack system; had full nuclear capability and took instructions controlled by the pilot's brainwaves which had to be configured via Russian thought processes.
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Mitchell Gant wears a black flight helmet, a reflection of Eastwood's years of playing gunfighters who wore dark or black hats. By contrast, Voskov wears a white helmet which was what many of Eastwood's gunfighter opponents wore.
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At a budget of around 21 million dollars, this film, in constant dollars, is one of the most expensive of Clint Eastwood's movies.
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The fictional MiG-31 bears a strong resemblance to an actual Soviet aircraft; The Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic airliner, nicknamed the "Konkordski" by the western aviation press. Production versions of the Tu-144 had their engine nacelles under the wing close to the center line of the aircraft, a double-delta wing layout with downward conical camber (similar to the Anglo-French Concorde), and retractable canard wings just behind the cockpit. The Tu-144's history is a bit of a spy story in itself, as many experts have alleged that its design was based on a set of early Concorde blueprints stolen from the French by the KGB.
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A new special effects technique for the shooting of the flying sequences called "Reverse Blue-Screen Photography" was developed by John Dykstra for this picture. Wikipedia states that the process involved "coating the model with phosphorus paint and photographing it first with strong lighting against a black background and then with ultraviolet light to create the necessary male and female mattes to separate the foreground model and the background footage. This enabled the shiny black model to be photographed flying against a clear blue sky and gleaming white snow; compare this with traditional blue-screen technique used in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)".
When the novel was written and the film was in principal photography, Yuri Andropov was head of the KGB. Andropov then became CPSU General Secretary succeeding Leonid Brezhnev. As shooting had started, it was too late to re-cast the part of KGB Chairman Andropov. When the movie was released, Andropov was no longer head of the KGB. Originally, Andropov was not well known and casting Wolf Kahler, who did not look like him, was no issue then. But by the time the movie launched, Andropov had become well-known, with the actor in the movie bearing little physical resemblance to him.
Prior to the release of the movie, the cover art for the novel "Firefox" showed an aircraft similar to a MiG-25 Foxbat. After the release of the movie, the cover art was updated to reflect the design of the movie version of the aircraft. There really is a MiG-31, and it's a modified version of the MiG-25.
Two actors in this film, John Ratzenberger and Kenneth Colley both appeared in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, which came out two years earlier. In this film, Ratzenberger played a junior officer on a U.S. submarine in the Arctic hiding from the Soviets, while in Empire Strikes Back he played a junior officer on the ice planet Hoth hiding from the Empire. Kenneth Colley played a Soviet colonel in the "command center" looking for the heroes, while in Empire Strikes Back he plays Admiral Piett, a high-ranking Imperial officer. He would also reprise this role a year later in Return of the Jedi.
The cockpit section of the helicopter gunship chasing Gant is adapted from the Aerospatiale Gazelles used for the filming of Blue Thunder (1983).
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First film as a full producer for Clint Eastwood though Eastwood had been an Executive Producer on three films prior. The movie was also Eastwood's eighth as a director.
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One of two Clint Eastwood movies released in 1982. The other was Honkytonk Man (1982). That movie was a box-office flop but this film was a box-office smash.
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After making this film, Clint Eastwood terminated his association with longtime editor Ferris Webster for undisclosed reasons. Webster had worked exclusively for the star for a decade, and even moved up near Burney where Eastwood had a vacation house, thinking he would edit Malpaso films for the rest of his life. "He died brokenhearted," said producer Fritz Manes.
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A total of nine models of the Firefox were built. Six were used as miniatures for filming, two actually flew, and one was built to full-scale specifications. The full size model measured 66 (long) x 44 (wide) x 20 (high) feet, could taxi at 30-40 mph and was constructed from a broadcast-antenna radio station skeleton. Several flying shots from the movie were later reused for Back to the Future Part II (1989).
According to Clint Eastwood, one of the ducted fan, R/C filming models crashed into heavy rush-hour traffic, causing a significant traffic jam.
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The real life MiG-31 (Mikoyan-Gurevich 31) is known not as the "Firefox" but as the "Foxhound". It is similar in appearance to the MiG-25 from which it is believed to be based.
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The movie's Charity World Premiere was held in Washington, D.C., with proceeds aiding a military charity, and was attended by prominent U.S. military figures.
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The film was made and released five years after its source novel of the same name by Craig Thomas had been first published in 1977. In that 1977 year, a similarly themed and similarly titled film called "Foxbat" [Woo fook (1977)] was released. Many of the characters from the "Firefox" novel and its sequel "Firefox Down" return in the novels "Winter Hawk" (1987) and "A Different War" (1997).
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A promotional behind the scenes making-of documentary about this movie was made for television. Entitled Clint Eastwood: Director (1982), the doc is available on the DVD.
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In this movie (1982) General Vladimirov assures the First Secretary, "No pilot will risk the Moscow defenses, however invisible he might be." On May 28, 1987, a young German pilot flew his small plane 500 miles into Soviet airspace and landed safely in Red Square; he was promptly arrested.
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One of just a few of Clint Eastwood movies in the spy/espionage genre. The films include Firefox (1982), Absolute Power (1997), The Eiger Sanction (1975), and In the Line of Fire (1993).
Atari released a laserdisc coin-operated arcade game called "Firefox" in 1983.
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After its first release, Clint Eastwood re-cut the film by thirteen minutes. Sixteen minutes of footage was added to American ABC-TV's television version. A 124 minute version has aired on cable TV. The full longest version runs 137 minutes restored for video and later network television releases.
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Fist fight snippets were lifted from this film and used to portray a much younger Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) in flashback scenes in "Trouble With the Curve", 2012.
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The big, black, 1950s-looking sedan used by the KGB is a "Gaz Chaika M13." This car was produced in Russia from 1959 to 1981. The car was not available to the general Russian public. It was used by government officials and dignitaries. It looks very similar to a mid 1950s Packard. The smaller car used later by the KGB in the chase scene with the van is a "Volga."
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In "Firefox Down!", Craig Thomas' 1983 sequel to his "Firefox" novel, the MiG 31 is described as being like the one in this movie. A possible movie sequel, which perhaps would have been based on the book "Firefox Down!", was never made.
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In the Soviet war room, there are framed photos on the wall. One is Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space, a Russian), and the other is Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space, also a Russian).
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Clint Eastwood's ninth film for Warner Brothers.
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Thomas Hill (General Brown) and Freddie Jones (Kenneth Aubrey) would both go on to play librarian Mr. Koreander in the Neverending Story series, the former in the first two films, and the latter in the third.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Henry Gerp were all considered for the role of Mig Firefox before Clint Eastwood was cast
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Cameo 

Fritz Manes: Clint Eastwood's regular producing partner as a Captain. The appearance was one of seven that Manes has made in Eastwood's movies.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The Russian helicopters in the movie, known as the Mil-24 "Hind", were actually radio control scale models. Also, during the close up scenes, the cockpit of one the helicopters was actually used before its major role in another action film and the television series called Blue Thunder. Only two were built and reused as Russian helicopters again in the 1987 television-movie Amerika.
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