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The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky (1995)

PG | | Western | TV Movie 15 June 1995
In 1919, a cocky sophomore in the forest service has to learn life the hard way.


John Kent Harrison


Norman Maclean (story "USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook and A Hole in the Sky"), Robert Wayne (teleplay)
1 win. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Sam Elliott ... Bill Bell
Jerry O'Connell ... Mac
Ricky Jay ... Hawkes
Molly Parker ... Sue
Don S. Davis ... Mr. Smith
Robert Wisden ... Canada
Michael Tayles ... Red
Tom Butler ... Mr. McBride
Jay Brazeau ... Doc Riley
Callum Keith Rennie ... Big Hat
A.C. Peterson ... Bigger Hat (as Alan C. Peterson)
Campbell Lane ... Biggest Hat
Frank Cassini ... Bartender


A young ranger in the Montana wilderness discovers the great forces of nature while learning the importance of honor, trust and integrity. Legendary veteran ranger Bill Bell educates the young man and guides him toward manhood. The year is 1919-a time when being a ranger meant more than operating expensive equipment. Forest fires were fought with guts and courage, not chemicals and airplanes. Bill Bell was the toughest ranger in an elite crew of very rugged men. A figure of heroic proportions, he was generally feared and respected by all. It was even rumored that he had at one time killed a sheep farmer, which only fueled his already enormous reputation. The young ranger does everything to remain in the good graces of Bill Bell, the senior ranger he idolizes. Their tentative rapport grows into a friendship through a hilarious and heroic rite of passage in which the younger ranger meets the test-and the woman of his dreams. Written by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for a barroom brawl

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Ricky Jay plays a professional gambler and card shark who is an expert at manipulating a deck of cards. In real-life, Ricky Jay is a professional magician who specializes in card tricks. See more »


Mac: [In a gradually increasing crescendo of emphasis, starting in a normal tone, ending in a near roar] Red, let me ask you. Have you ever once, in your whole life, had one, single, solitary, original thought, that didn't bounce off from somewhere else? I mean, have you ever sat down, considered all the available information, weighed it all in your mind, sifted all the possibilities, discarded what you couldn't prove, sorted out what made sense, and came to your own, personal, original, Red McBride ...
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There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
Written by Theodore A. Metz and Joe Hayden
First line sung during first explosion scenes also sung by Mac in the tent on the peak
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User Reviews

A young man's experiences in the forest service in Montana in 1919
9 April 2018 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

RELEASED TO TV IN 1995 and directed by John Kent Harrison, "The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky" chronicles events in the western Montana wilderness in 1919 where a cocky 17 year-old (Jerry O'Connell) in the forest service is guided by a seasoned ranger (Sam Elliott), conflicts with a card shark cook (Ricky Jay) and becomes infatuated by a cute girl (Molly Parker).

There are only a few Western Staples, like the scenic landscapes, card games, a saloon fight and saloon girls (prostitutes). Other than that, this is a Wilderness Drama wherein a teen comes of age. It's fairly family friendly and only hints at the worldly temptations youths will eventually face. The beauty of the wilderness is emphasized with the corresponding arduous hiking, camping, forest work, relationships and so forth. It's a likable movie if this appeals to you and realistically low-key.

THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour 34 minutes and was shot in British Columbia, Canada. WRITERS: Norman Maclean (book) and Robert Wayne (teleplay).


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Release Date:

15 June 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hole in the Sky See more »

Filming Locations:

British Columbia, Canada

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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