With its electrifying flight sequences and high-powered cast, The Hunters is a mesmerizing film based on the best-selling novel by veteran fighter pilot James Salter. Set during the height of the Korean War, the story cent... more »ers on Major Cleve Saville (Robert Mitchum), a master of the newly operational F-86 Sabre fighter jets. But adept as he is at flying, Savillešs personal life takes a nosedive when he falls in love with his wingmanšs (Lee Philips) beautiful wife (May Britt). To make matters worse, Saville must cope with a loud-mouthed rookie (Robert Wagner) in a daring rescue mission that threatens all their lives in this well-crafted war drama.« less
""The Hunters" is a well-made, exciting Korean war drama, with the accent on aviation. It has an above-average plot for this type of film, and the whole movie, particularly the aerial sequences, is expertly directed by Dick Powell. If you are interested in combat aircraft, there are many scenes of F-86 Sabre Jets engaging MIGs in dogfight battles to the death.While the planes are great to watch, this film is primarily about human beings caught up in war. It stars Robert Mitchum, and he is terrific--his fighter pilot character is a born leader, yet he also suspects there is something important missing in his life. He enters into a guilt-ridden relationship with the wife of another pilot, played by lovely May Britt. When there's a war on though, the feelings of two people aren't worth--as someone once said--"a hill of beans". Mr. Mitchum's main job is to lead a fighter squadron, and satisfy his boss on the ground--Richard Egan in a strong performance, knowing that every day he may be sending a man to his death.Just to make things even more interesting for Mr. Mitchum, his squadron includes Ms. Britt's husband ( a paranoid, self-doubting Lee Philips ) and a cocky, young "hotshot" who doesn't like "rules" ( a young, excellent Robert Wagner ). It would be unfair to reveal more of the plot, but the film is consistently interesting and exciting.The DVD is full screen on one side, and wide-screen on the other. The colour is very good for a 46-year old film. It does not have "surround sound", of course, unlike that 1986 aviation hit, "Top Gun"--then again, "Top Gun" didn't have Robert Mitchum ! Tom Cruise has a nice smile--but, for leadership and grit, I'd follow Robert Mitchum through the gates of hell !Actually, I'll give "The Hunters" 4 1/2 stars. Action--suspense--romance--Sabre Jets--Robert Mitchum--what more do you want ? Thanks, Fox--a very nice disc !"
The Citizen Kane of modern air/space combat movies!
peterfromkanata | 07/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I was 11 years old, I saw this movie when it was released. In its air combat sequences, The Hunters is the Citizen Kane of all modern air/space combat movies, as revolutionary for its time as Star Wars later was to be for its time. While prior air combat movies had been on the square screens, usually in B&W, The Hunters was filmed in state-of-the art CinemaScope (widescreen) and Technicolor. Its air combat sequences -- twisting jets on each other's tails soaring in mountainous clouds, then diving and roaring a treetop level through valleys -- were brilliantly conceived and breathtakingly executed -- unlike anything that had been seen before. They still hold up with the best ever filmed, although they've been copied so much (by movies such as Top Gun and Star Wars) that they no longer have the knock-your-socks-off novelty that they originally did. Unfortunately, the feel-good screenplay, with a distracting romantic subplot, bears no resemblance to the gritty, macho novel on which it was based. In James Salter's best-selling novel, the Robert Michum character, Cleve Saville, is a WWII veteran fighter jock who can't get a kill to save his soul, then has no witness when his first-and-only kill (before he himself dies) is the legendary enemy ace. Hence, The Hunters movie is really a first-rate action-hero fantasy set in wartime. (...)"
The F-86 is sexier than May Britt
Rick Galati | Lake St. Louis, Missouri United States | 07/25/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was quite eager to acquire a DVD copy of "The Hunters" when I learned of its availability. My faded recollections of this Korean War flying epic long ago had melded into a vague and adolescent montage of childhood images of F-86 dogfights led by an aging Cleve Saville (Robert Mitchum), a cocksure would-be ace and young beatnik-like wingman, Lt.Ed Pell (Robert Wagner), the base commander (Richard Egan) who's memorable one-liner "The Iceman Cometh!" was enthusiastically uttered while observing Saville's aerial prowess through a pair of field binoculars, and of course an enemy ace named Casey Jones. When the movie stuck to flying, it was cutting edge and it was great. The aerial photography was fabulous. The F-86 Saber Jet was one classically beautiful and superb flying machine and its historic role helped define aerial combat in Korea. But alas, when the flying sequences deferred to a ridiculously improbable love triangle, "The Hunters" had a way of crashing and burning. Simple as that."
Great Jet Combat but the love triangle is an unwanted side s
Don Horowitz | 05/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My DVD movie collection does not yet exceed 10 titles, but I had to have this film that I first saw decades ago. As it seldom showed up on TV it was not in my videotape collection. The air combat sequences are as good or better than I remember but I thought there were more of them. Other than Top Gun, this is the only film I can recall where the air combat sequences were obviously flown by US military pilots. If more flying and interaction among the pilots had been substituted for the romantic subplot, I would have given it another star. Fortunately as a DVD can be viewed chapter by chapter, the romatic junk can be skipped and viewers can cut right to the dogfights. Actually I wish the flying sequences had been expanded. The 2 seconds per kill clips of Wagner and Mitchum as they become double aces are analogous to the old baseball movies where a road trip is shown by pennants bearing the names of cities flying past a steam locomotive. Perhaps the movie could have started (or flashed back to) WWII action involving Saville and Imil, when Saville was supposedly an immature hot shot like Pell.
The planes shown as MIG 15s are actually F-84F Thunderstreaks, manufactured by Republic Aviation. I immediately noticed this discrepancy, as my father was a Republic engineer in the 1950s and designed components of the F-84F --cockpit air conditioning -- and also the Vietnam era F-105 Thunderchief -- hydraulics for the landing gear. Our old 1951 Plymouth had an F-84F bumpersticker on it and later my heavy one-speed, foot-brake bike (the type with the wide center sections and the bell button) was plastered with F-105 stickers. When I was 6 years old the Thunderbirds put on an airshow flying F-84Fs at the main Republic plant on Long Island where my father worked. Using the Thunderstreak was probably the best option given the producers' obvious goal of showing real jet combat and in in no way detracts from the authenticity or exciitement of the flying sequences. As the film was made in 1958 at the height of the Cold War, I doubt there were sufficient MIGs available to film in air combat sequences in a movie made in the US. In one scene, the film shows about 20 MIGs (i.e. F-84s) flying in an echelon. The F-84F was probably chosen because its intake has a vertical divider, as does the MIG-15, and it is also a swept wing plane. I will watch most any film that emphasizes aviation or space (I bought The Right Stuff in the same order as this film). Accordingly my rating is based to an extent on my personal interests. Mitchum turns in an above-average performance in a role that is tailored to his tough guy with a human side personality (See e.g. Mitchum as General Norman Cota, deputy commander of the 29th infantry division--my father's unit--in The Longest Day) and Wagner is entertaining as a slang-spewing, glory-seeking, neophyte, fighter jock who rubs Mitchum the wrong way as they compete to knock down enemy planes. (Thanks to those of you who corrected my errors on the spelling and command position of Gen. Cota and the casting of the Star Trek episode)."
Definitely an Ace
LOH SZE YUAN GEORGE | New Territoris, Hong Kong China | 05/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Hunters" (1958) and "The Enemy Below" (1957) are 2 war movies produced by Dick Powell for 20th Century Fox filmed in Cinemascope both with Robert Mitchum in the leading role. Major Cleve Saville (Robert Mitchum), the squadron commander, is a famous ace and veteran fighter pilot of World War II. He is a career man whose world was his squadron and the men who flew with him. Lt. Pell (Robert Wagner), in the early part of the movie, is a reckless but eventually courageous young jet ace to whom Saville owe his life. Lt. Abbott (Lee Phillips) is the confused husband of Kris (May Britt) whom Saville falls in love with although their acknowledged desires are never to be fulfilled.The picture is based on the novel "The Hunters" by James Salter who is himself a jet ace in the Korean conflict. In the late 50's long before the development of CGI technology, real fighter jets F-86 Sabrejet and F-84 Thunderjets (painted gray with a red star to simulate MIG-15) were flown in the aerial battle sequence which made it the more realistic than Pearl Harbor (2001). I have kept like a treasure a copy of "The Hunters" VHS tape and it is pretty worn out by now from years of repeated viewings. Thank you Fox for putting it on DVD...46 years after its theatrical release."