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Backdraft (1991)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  24 May 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 54,828 users   Metascore: 38/100
Reviews: 131 user | 60 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don't get along have to work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen McCaffrey
Tim Krizminski
Alderman Marty Swayzak
Anthony Mockus Sr. ...
Chief John Fitzgerald (as Tony Mockus Sr.)
Cedric Young ...
Juan Ramírez ...
Kevin Casey ...


A rookie firefighter tries to earn the respect of his older brother and other firefighters while taking part in an investigation of a string of arson/murders. This detailed look into the duties and private lives of firemen naturally features widespread pyrotechnics and special effects. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


One breath of oxygen and it explodes in a deadly rage. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and a scene of sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 May 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Marea de fuego  »

Box Office


$77,868,585 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (QSound) (70 mm prints)| (DTS HD Master Audio)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actors Cedric Young (Grindle), Kevin Casey (Nightengale), and Richard Lexsee (Washington) are former Chicago firefighters. See more »


When the ladder truck flips and drags the ground, Brian is in the driver's side jump seat. Before and after the crash he is in the passenger side jump seat. See more »


Alderman Marty Swayzak: You see that glow in the corner of your eye. It's your career dissapation light and it's going into overtime.
Lt. Steven McCaffrey: If anyone's lights are about to go out, believe me they are yours.
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: John Goodman/Kings of Leon (2013) See more »


Written by Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong
Performed by Edwin Starr
Courtesy of Motown Record Company L.P.
See more »

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User Reviews

burn baby, burn
8 May 2006 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

It's weird to think that when I went to see "Home Alone" in the theaters, "Backdraft" was advertised right before the movie came on. The whole thing is a little grimmer than we usually expect from Ron Howard. It focuses on mutually hostile brothers Stephen (Kurt Russell) and Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin), both firefighters in Chicago having to put aside their differences to fight an arson outbreak.

True, it doesn't really sound like much of a plot, but Howard knows how to keep everything going. Stephen is the sort of guy with a bad attitude whom you can't help but respect. Brian mainly shows that there was once a time when Alec Baldwin's brothers could act. As for the climax, that is really something that is likely to shock you royally. But don't get me wrong. This is a good movie. Maybe not any kind of masterpiece, but worth seeing nevertheless. Above all, it's not a disaster movie (the less said about "The Towering Inferno" the better). Also starring Robert DeNiro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn, Rebecca DeMornay and J.T. Walsh.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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