Firefox movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Firefox filmed?

1982

About Firefox

You may know him better as a gunslinging cowboy or a vigilante cop who plays by his own rules, but Clint Eastwood is also cast as a fearless fighter pilot in the 1982 action thriller Firefox.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

This edge-of-your-seat adventure tells the story of retired United States Air Force Major Mitchell Gant (Eastwood), who is chosen to complete a highly dangerous espionage mission. The plan is to infiltrate the Soviet Union to steal a highly advanced MiG-31 fighter jet, known by the code name “Firefox.” Gant is chosen for the mission due to his extensive military experience and the fact that he also speaks Russian.

Along with the help of a network of Russian dissidents, Gant’s mission is to fly the Firefox back to a NATO country so its technological secrets can be examined. But that’s going to be a whole lot easier said than done, as the KGB is aware of the top-secret plan and is desperate to stop state secrets from falling into the wrong hands.

Gant manages to infiltrate a Soviet air force base and, with the assistance of scientist Pyotr Baranovich (Nigel Hawthorne), learns how to fly the Firefox and use all its high-tech gizmos. The dissidents create a fiery diversion to aid Gant’s escape in the aircraft, but there’s a problem: there’s also a second Firefox prototype at the base, which Lieutenant Colonel Yuri Voskov (Kai Wulff) pilots in a desperate attempt to stop Gant getting away.

What follows is a high-speed race to the Arctic, where Grant rendezvous with a US submarine to refuel the aircraft. And with Yoskov hot on his tail, it’ll take all of Gant’s aerial dogfighting skills if he’s going to pilot the Firefox to safety.

If you’re a fan of this ‘80s action blockbuster or you just love all things Eastwood, you’re in the right place. We’ve gathered the details and settings of several Firefox locations, so keep reading to find out how you can check them out for yourself.

City Locations

Vienna, Austria; London, United Kingdom; other locations in Montana and California

Location Types

Cabins, NatureScapes, Ranch

Location Styles

Cabin, Foreign, Helicopter, Plane, Plane/Helicopter Style, Ranch Style

Firefox Locations

If you want to visit the filming location of Firefox, you don’t have to go to Russia. Remember: this film was shot and released during the latter stages of the Cold War, so Eastwood and co couldn’t exactly venture beyond the Iron Curtain to film a movie portraying the Russians as the bad guys.

Instead, the Austrian capital of Vienna was chosen as Moscow for the film. In fact, in scenes showing Eastwood at train stations in Firefox, eagle-eyed viewers can clearly spot signs written in German in the background.

Elsewhere, other Firefox locations are found at many different points of the compass. The opening scenes of Gant’s cabin in Alaska, for example, were actually filmed at Clint Eastwood’s ranch in northern California. Thule Air Base in Greenland also features, as do March Air Reserve Base and Edwards Air Force Base in California, while other scenes were filmed in London.

Fun fact:

Firefox is based on a novel by author Craig Thomas. Thomas was inspired by the story of a real-life Russian fighter pilot who defected to Japan in 1976.

Opening scenes in Firefox

Rising River Ranch, 5034 Larkin Rd, Oroville, CA

In the opening scenes of Firefox, we see a very sweaty Mitchell Gant out for a jog in what is supposedly Alaska. But as we admire the beautiful mountain scenery, it’s impossible to ignore the approach of a menacing military helicopter.

Gant is quick to notice the chopper too and is clearly alarmed by its presence. Quickening his pace, he races back to his cabin and arms himself with a shotgun. A frightened Gant experiences a flashback to the horrors of the Vietnam War, where he was shot down and captured as a prisoner of war.

Returning to the present, Gant is shocked to find American soldiers and a military official in front of him. “Major Gant, can you hear us? Sorry we had to surprise you like that,” the man says.

This Firefox location isn’t actually in Alaska but was filmed at Clint Eastwood’s ranch in Shasta County, California. Known as Rising River Ranch, this property is found near Hat Creek and Fall River Mills, around 200 miles north of Sacramento. You can also clearly spot Mt Shasta in the background of one shot in the film.

Gant boards the train scene in Firefox

With Gant suffering from PTSD, he’s clearly not cut out for life as a spy. So when he arrives in Moscow and immediately comes under suspicion from the KGB, he struggles to cope.

But despite his fears, Gant manages to make it to a late-night meeting with his local contacts. Then, when he’s followed by a KGB agent who they are forced to kill, Gant and the Soviet dissidents must flee to the nearby metro station. Trying to look casual as they hurry down the stairs to the underground train, Gant and his comrades nonetheless attract plenty of curious glances.

Standing beside the train line, Gant’s local contact gives him a new identity to help him evade detection and capture by the KGB. “Your name is Michael Lewis now. You are a tourist staying at the Warsaw Hotel. It is all arranged, do not worry. Just stay calm,” the man says.

But that’s going to be a struggle for Gant, who freezes on the spot as a train roars into the station. And with KGB agents closing in, he must shake himself from his stupor and jump aboard the train just before the door shuts.

This scene was shot in Vienna, and Gant and his friends enter the subway line at Karlsplatz. You can find this location less than a mile to the south of the city center.

Gant exits the Metro scene in Firefox

After a tense train ride, Gant manages to rein in his fear and follow his contacts off the Metro a couple of stops down the line. But as he hurries up the escalator to the exit, he’s dismayed to be confronted by a KGB agent who asks to see his passport.

“You do not look like yourself in this photograph,” the agent says as he suspiciously studies the passport. “Your hair is darker.”

“I was a little heavier then, too,” Gant manages to reply. But the KGB agent remains unconvinced that Gant is the man he claims to be. “You do not appear to be in the best of health,” he says.

But after fixing Gant with an intense stare, the agent lets him go.

Gant exits the Metro at Südtirolerplatz in Vienna, around three miles south of the city center.

Conclusion

Firefox offers something a little different to most of the other films in Clint Eastwood’s back catalog. The Hollywood superstar is his usual highly watchable self as the brave fighter pilot, and while the somewhat fanciful plot relies on the audience’s suspension of disbelief, it’s still an entertaining ride from start to finish.

And while it may be set in Russia, you don’t have to venture behind the Iron Curtain to check out where Firefox was filmed. With filming locations in western Europe and right here in the USA, there are some Firefox locations that are easy to find for the average film fanatic.