Sky Riders

Sky Riders (also known as Assault on the Forbidden Fortress) is a 1976 American action film directed by Douglas Hickox and starring James Coburn, Susannah York and Robert Culp.[2] [3]

Sky Riders
Directed byDouglas Hickox
Produced byTerry Morse Jr.
Sandy Howard executive producer
Written byBill McGaw
Hall T. Sprague
Garry Michael White
Screenplay byJack DeWitt
Greg MacGillivray
StarringJames Coburn
Susannah York
Robert Culp
Music byLalo Schifrin
CinematographyJim Freeman
Greg MacGillivray
Ousama Rawi
Edited byMalcolm Cooke
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 26, 1976 (1976-03-26)
Running time
91 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,730,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

The rescue sequences were filmed in Meteora in Greece where the finale of the later James Bond film For Your Eyes Only was also set later in 1981.

On January 17, 2012 the film was released on DVD through Shout! Factory as part of a double feature with The Last Hard Men.

Plot summary

The wife, Ellen (Susannah York), of an international industrialist (Robert Culp) and her two children are kidnapped from their Athens home by a terrorist group and taken to an abandoned monastery on an imposing, needle-shaped island. Jim McCabe (James Coburn), Ellen's ex-husband hires a crew of professional hang gliders to help him rescue her and the kids from the terrorist's mountain top lair.[4]



Coburn's casting was announced in May 1975.[5] The film was part of a slate of productions from Sandy Howard.[6]

After an explosion on the set of Sky Riders in which a Greek electrician died, producer Terry Morse Jr. was arrested and producer Sandy Howard was detained for several weeks. A $250,000 out-of-court settlement was made,[7] which one Variety article called a "bribe" so the crew member responsible would not be imprisoned by the military regime.[8][4]


The film was a failure at the box office in the US but did better internationally.[9][10]

Howard hired Jack Hill to write a sequel. He later said "I pitched them my idea, which they thought was good, and I wrote the script. Well, it turned out that the movie was a big flop and no one could understand why. I knew why - it was because they had the theory that it should be wall to wall action and there is nothing more boring."[11] Hill then wrote City of Fire and Death Ship for Howard.


  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p233. Please note figures are rentals accruing to distributors and not total gross.
  2. "Sky Riders (1976)". BFI.
  3. SKY RIDERS Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 43, Iss. 504, (Jan 1, 1976): 107.
  4. Sky Riders at AllMovie
  5. MOVIE CALL SHEET: Bowie: All That Glitters Isn't Rock Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 31 May 1975: b7.
  6. Returns of a Man Called Howard Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 18 Jan 1976: m1.
  7. Staff, Variety; Staff, Variety (1 January 1976). "Sky Riders".
  8. Producer Sandy Howard dies at 81 Variety May 16, 2008
  9. ...And It Almost Didn't Get to the Screen By ALJEAN HARMETZ. New York Times 26 May 1977: 66.
  10. FILM CLIPS: Hamlisch, Sager Score Again in 'Starting Over' Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 29 Nov 1978: g13.
  11. Waddell, Calum (2009). Jack Hill: The Exploitation and Blaxploitation Master, Film by Film. McFarland. p. 180.
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