×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fire on the Mountain

For anyone remotely interested in the subject matter, "Fire on the Mountain," a look at the United States' unique World War II mountain warfare infantry division, will be a thrilling documentary. With tremendous vintage footage, this well-made docu is both entertaining and moving in the manner of the best war stories.

With:
Narrator: Steven Kanaly.

For anyone remotely interested in the subject matter, “Fire on the Mountain,” a look at the United States’ unique World War II mountain warfare infantry division, will be a thrilling documentary. With tremendous vintage footage of the earliest days of American skiing and of European combat helping to tell the inspirational story of an impressive group of men, this well-made docu is both entertaining and moving in the manner of the best war stories. Specialized theatrical dates are a possibility if groomed to reach the target audience of sports and outdoors enthusiasts as well as older viewers, and it’s a natural for public TV and cable.

Made by Telluride-based filmmakers Beth and George Gage, pic benefits from being two great stories in one. The first carries the 10th Mountain Division from its creation by Charles Dole, founder of the National Ski Patrol, through the recruitment of an elite group of champion skiers, mountain climbers and European refugees, their arduous training for three years in Colorado and their eventual combat role in dislodging the Nazis from the Italian mountains in 1944- 45, highlighted by their spectacular night climb of Riva Ridge.

Second, shorter section details the imposing legacy of the members of the 10 th. During training, they invented, out of necessity, such now-standard items as the snowmobile, Snow Cat, nylon climbing ropes and mummy sleeping bags. After the war, they went on to form the basis for America’s nascent ski, sports and environmental industries, with various members having founded or run Aspen, Vail , Snowmass, Nike, the Sierra Club, Outward Bound and the Mountain Hut and Trail System, as well as dozens of other ski areas and schools.

The early footage, in excellent condition, shows skiing as it used to be, and anyone familiar with the sport will get a huge kick out of the pioneers on view being dragged up slopes in wooden boxes or arduously climbing up mountains in the days before chairlifts or even rope tows.

There is also vivid coverage of Camp Hale in the Rockies, where 14,000 soldiers eventually trained under fearsome but highly collegial conditions. When the war seemed to be drawing to a close, they began to despair of ever seeing action, but wound up getting more than enough — nearly a thousand were killed and four times more injured. The account of the nocturnal sneak ascent on Riva Ridge, which resulted in the sleeping Germans’ being surprised in their foxholes , is a stunner, making one wonder whythe story has never been told in a feature film.

The division members, those interviewed as well as spoken about, emerge as a uniformly impressive lot, men with a capital M, good at what they did but deeply thoughtful, philosophical and, at times, emotional about what they went through and the friends they left behind. The entrepreneurial talent many of them displayed subsequently is shown to have sprung directly out of their love of sport and nature, not at all from mercenary motives.

Docu brings the story, and many of the men, full circle by ending with a 50th anniversary re-climb of Riva Ridge, in which Yanks and Germans reunite on a peaceful basis; the world outlooks and physical condition of these men provide a great deal to admire.

Orientation of the film plays directly, and convincingly, to the widely held belief that the United States reached its zenith at the end of World War II. If this is true, the members of the 10th, as presented here, were part of the reason.

Fire on the Mountain

Production: A Gage & Gage production. (International sales: Paul Kohner Inc., Beverly Hills.) Produced, directed by Beth Gage, George Gage. Written by Beth Gage.

Crew: Camera (color), Kenneth Lehn; editors, Scott Conrad, Krysia Carter-Giez; music, Todd Barton. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 26, 1996. Running time: 72 MIN.

With: Narrator: Steven Kanaly.

More Film

  • Alfonso Cuarón, Emmanuel Lubezki Discuss the

    Alfonso Cuarón Details 'Roma' Cinematography With 'Gravity' DP Emmanuel Lubezki

    As part of an overall push to bring Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” to awards season voters, Netflix’s “‘Roma’ Experience'” played host to guild and Academy members Sunday in Hollywood. The all-day event featured panels focused on the film’s crafts and an audio-visual installation akin to the streamer’s FYSee initiative for Emmy contenders, featuring costumes and art [...]

  • IFFAM: Erik Matti Hatches Plans for

    IFFAM: Erik Matti Hatches Plans for ‘On The Job’ Franchise

    Filipino director Erik Matti is known for his eclectic body of work that includes “Honor Thy Father” and “Seklusyon.” His 2013 effort, “On The Job” travelled widely and won several awards including two at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and was nominated for an SACD Prize at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. Matti is at [...]

  • Joan Chen attends the season premiere

    Joan Chen Talks Diversity in Hollywood, Welcomes #MeToo

    Chinese-American actress, writer and director Joan Chen says that she was flattered when Time magazine described her as the “Elizabeth Taylor of China.” When asked at an in-conversation event in Singapore on Saturday whether she paved the way for Chinese actresses to follow in Hollywood, Chen said, “We never go to work because we want [...]

  • Kyzza Terrazas Joins Garcia Bernal, Diego

    Kyzza Terrazas Joins Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Launching their new production house, La Corriente de Golfo, last April, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have tapped Mexican writer-director Kyzza Terrazas as the company’s head of development. The appointment will certainly help build the company appointing an old-rounder capable of overseeing and implementing development, writing and directing, and a longtime [...]

  • IFFAM Actress in Focus: Yao Chen

    IFFAM Actress in Focus: Yao Chen Talks Performing, Producing and Public Pressure

    Macao’s Actress in Focus is a woman who has trained as a boxer, likes British actors, especially Benedict Cumberbatch and Jeremy Irons, and is now setting out her stall as a producer. Yao Chen has built a career over 20 years thanks to TV shows including “My Own Swordsman,” and films including “If You Are [...]

  • Bradley Liew's 'Motel Acacia' Shoots After

    Cautionary Tale, 'Motel Acacia' Under Way After Four Years of Development

    Production has begun on Malaysian director Bradley Liew’s upscale horror film “Motel Acacia.” With a clearly topical message, the film features a hotel bed that eats immigrants. Actor, JC Santos called it: “A cautionary tale of what’s going to happen in the future.” Indonesian star, Nicholas Saputra said the he agreed to the role “because [...]

  • Jon M. ChuUnforgettable Gala, Inside, Los

    'Crazy Rich Asians' Honored at Unforgettable Awards: 'One Movie Every 25 Years is Just Not F—ing Enough'

    Fresh on the heels of its Golden Globe nomination, “Crazy Rich Asians” was the talk of the evening at Kore Asian Media’s 17th annual Unforgettable Awards. Saturday’s event, which celebrates Asian-American trailblazers and their achievements in the entertainment industry, honored a host of Asian actors, directors and influencers, including “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content