An outstanding coming-of-age movie
Shotokan apprentice | 12/10/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a grandmother but I absolutely loved this movie when I first saw it on TV. Sam Elliott is perfect for the ranger role but what is interesting is how Jerry McConnell has grown up into the man he has become. For all of you who saw Stand By Me you will remember him as the somewhat chunky klutz member of the group. He has changed dramatically and it was great to see him in this role.."
Sam Elliott and The Hole in the Sky
parsonalmail | The Bitterroot Valley, Montana | 11/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is something of a departure for Sam Elliott, but he, as always, pulls it off masterfully. Like fine wine, he just gets better with age. I think that the great strength of the film is its mood. Rather than a rousing story, although the story is interesting enough, watching it is just a pleasurable experience. The characters are believable, the scenery incredible (although it was shot in Canada rather than in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness), and is suitable for the entire family.If you are a fan of Elliott and/or just plain old good movies, then you should enjoy this one."
More truth than fiction
Trapper | WA | 08/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great movie with a lot of truth to the story.
I just viewed "Hole In The Sky" again, checking closely for inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
I spent many summers as a youth and young man camping and working in the Elk Summit country where much of the depicted action takes place. It's a shame that the producers did not shoot on the actual location, because in my view it is more beautiful and represents reality much better than the British Columbia location they used. Their choice serves well for people who don't care about the real place, but for me, a person who loves the place, maybe it's just as well. I wouldn't want to see a horde of admirers trouping up there.
Bill Bell, Sam Elliot's character, was a real person who really worked out of the Elk Summit country. I didn't know him, but I do know somebody who knew him. On that basis, I judge that Elliot did a fine job of portraying the real man.
Graves Peak, the fire lookout portrayed in the movie, is a real place as well. It differs from the movie location in that it is WAY above timberline, so there are no large trees and brush as depicted in the movie. It's so far above timberline that the main reason it was abandoned is that clouds obscured the field of view too often. There are no rattlesnakes there either, which makes the snake scenes rather comical.
The trail work and blasting scenes were accurately portrayed, as were the phone line maintenance. I myself performed phone line maintenance in the same area. It really hasn't changed all that much. I assisted with blasting too. Now they use a gasoline powered jackhammer to drill the holes in boulders for dynamite, but in the depicted era, a star drill and sledges were the tools in use.
Young Mac walked all the way from Elk Summit to Hamilton, a distance of 14 miles from the Summit to the Bitterroot Divide, and another 14 miles down Blodgett Canyon to Hamilton. These places and distances were accurately portrayed.
Towns mentioned in the movie: Hamilton, Darby, and Missoula, are real places.
Canned peaches, a commodity that was in high demand amongst early Forest Service workers, played a comic scene. Sam Elliot as Bill Bell says something like "I wonder if the United States Forest Service knows why we have such an appetite for peaches!" whereupon the crew brews peach brandy from the jars and jars of peaches that they had stocked up. I doubt that the real Bill Bell made brandy out of them, as they were much too precious as a dessert food back in the wilderness.
Inaccuracies: (Probably important only to me, a purist familiar with the actual locale).
1) The cook had a small garden for growing corn and other vegetables. The soil at Elk Summit is nothing but decomposed granite, and even if the growing season were long enough, which it isn't, a garden would be futile.
2) There are no rattlensakes or trees at the top of Graves Peak.
3) The Oxford, where the gambling scenes were depicted, is in Missoula, not Hamilton. They still play cards there, however. You can get brains and eggs for breakfast there. When I was a youngster my dad sent me over there to order roast beef sandwiches for a hunting trip. The waiter hollers "Two Married Men to go for a walk" and the cook made the two sandwiches and put them in a paper bag.
4) The disclaimer at the end of the movie delairs that the characters and institutions depicted are fictional and bear no resemblance to any persons or institutions. This is only partially true. As I've already mentioned, Bill Bell was a real person, Norman McLean was a real person, the Forest Service is a real institution with a mission that was accurately portrayed for the era, Elk Summit is a real place, as are Graves Peak, Blodgett Canyon, Hamilton, Darby, and Missoula."
Warm, like a favorite sweater.
Shotokan apprentice | United Kingdom | 03/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sam Elliott has the ability to both stamp his authority, and to give crediblity, to any film which includes him. For sleight of hand students it's always a genuine pleasure to watch the masterful card artistry of the great Ricky Jay (the cook). No camera tricks required here.A wonderful and believable tale for the whole family."