Many people think of John Wayne and their minds automatically go to one of two places. Most fans remember the Duke as either a cowboy or a soldier. This is fair. After all, most of his biggest roles saw him either in a United States military uniform or on the back of a horse in the old west. However, his career was long and he played several roles. In fact, his first roles were in silent films. So, it almost goes without saying that Wayne stepped out of those boxes from time to time.
However, the one thing that John Wayne almost always played was the hero. He edged up to being a bad guy maybe a handful of times in his career. Most of the time though, he was the big guy who fought on the side of good. In the 1968 film Hellfighters, the Duke played an oil well firefighter named Chance Buckman. So, he wasn’t a soldier or a cowboy. He was, however, still a hero in the role.
Earlier today, John Wayne’s estate shared a still from Hellfighters. In the photo, the Duke is covered in what looks like mud and soot. However, he still has a smile on his face. It’s a pretty powerful image. He looks pleased after a dangerous and dirty job well done.
In the caption, John Wayne’s estate adds a simple question that helps to drive the message of the photo home. “Who’s not afraid of a little hard work & getting their hands dirty?” If that photo is anything to go off of, it looks like the Duke had no fear of hard work or getting dirty.
John Wayne In Hellfighters
John Wayne plays an expert international oil rig firefighter in Hellfighters. His job is to travel from place to place to extinguish fires at wellheads. It’s a dangerous job and he puts his life on the line every time he goes to work.
Hellfighters is full of action and suspense. However, it isn’t all about fighting fires. In fact, a large portion of the film is dedicated to rekindling an old flame. John Wayne’s character’s wife left him twenty years before the events of the movie take place and took their daughter with her. She could no longer handle knowing that her husband could die on the job.
Buckman is injured on the job and his estranged wife and daughter come to see him in the hospital. Later, he has to return to his dangerous work. This sets the stage for a film full of adventure, romance, and one heck of a performance from John Wayne.
He’s not a cowboy or a soldier in Hellfighters. However, John Wayne plays the tough-as-nails hero with a heart of gold just as well as he did in any of his other films.