Backdraft (1991)

R   |    |  Action, Crime, Drama

Backdraft (1991) Poster

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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  • William Baldwin and Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)
  • William Baldwin and Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)
  • William Baldwin and Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)
  • Backdraft (1991)
  • Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)
  • Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

27 October 2002 | wlmlbl
| Blockbuster Movie
This is one of Ron Howard's better films. Much of the filming was done on location in Chicago. Acting was excellent. Especially by Kurt Russell and William Baldwin. I have heard a lot of negatives about this movie, but I still feel it is worth a 9 at least. Steven and Brian McCaffery's dad (also a fireman) was killed in a fire in 1971. Brian was just a youngster, and along for the ride with his dad when he was killed. Twenty years later, Brian has become a fireman after failing at other pursuits. Steven is a lieutenant with the Chicago Fire Department. Steven does not think Brian can cut the mustard as a fireman, and Brian is out to prove himself. It makes for a great sibling rivalry. On top of this, an arsonist is setting fires, and the arson investigator, Donald Rimgale (Robert DeNero) does not have a clue as to who it is. Rimgale is pressured by an egotistical alderman (J.T. Walsh) who wants to be mayor. Brian has his problems working with Steven, and finally gives up, and accepts a job working with Rimgale. They find the links between all the fires, but Brian finds out more. (who the arsonist is). The climactic scene in chemical warehouse is great! I was told by someone that the funeral scene was overdone. I don't think so...I have seen funerals for firemen and they look exactly like what you see in the movie...Universal Studios in Hollywood had a Backdraft set on their lot some years back (which I visited), and it gives you a chance to see what these actors really faced...This is without a doubt one of my favorite movies, and Ron Howard deserves his share of kudos for an excellent directing job

Metacritic Reviews

Critic Reviews

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Did You Know?


In order to give fire a 'character' all of its own, where it would literally creep out from beneath door spaces, effects technicians used inverted sets with anchored furniture items, and then set fire to the treated floor ('ceiling'). Since fire tends to burn upward, it was only capable of 'crawling' across a floor/ceiling giving it a more menacing appearance in the footage once flipped back to the upright position.


Brian, Age 7: Leave me alone! Will you? You think you're so smart!
Stephen, Age 12: What a geek!
Brian, Age 7: I'm not a geek!
Stephen, Age 12: You're doing it wrong.
Brian, Age 7: Shut up!
Stephen, Age 12: You're doing it wrong. it doesn't go like that.
Brian, Age 7: Who asked you?
Stephen, Age 12: Who's your brother?
Brian, Age 7: You are, Stevie.
Stephen, Age 12: That's right! If you do it like ...


The pressure dials on the fire truck at the garment factory all read zero.

Alternate Versions

Network television version featured additional footage:

  • the firemen from Engine 17 visit a recently widowed firefighter's wife
  • Stephen (Kurt Russell) has an emotional scene with Inspector Rimgale (Robert De Niro) over the fire where Tim (Jason Gedrick) was burned
  • During the news conference where Alderman Swayzak (J.T. Walsh) is exposed, Brian (William Baldwin) visits Jennifer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as she is packing up her office, having recently quit.


A Girl Like You
Written by
Pat DiNizio
Performed by The Smithereens
Courtesy of Capitol Records INC.
By Arrangement with Cema Special Markets


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Action | Crime | Drama | Mystery | Thriller

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