John McTiernan‘s 1988 action tour de force is often called one of the greatest action films ever made. It’s a masterclass on every level: building entertaining characters, crafting escalating action, establishing and navigating geography, and putting an empathetic hero through the ringer in the face of extraordinary odds. McTiernan and his collaborators made this all look easy, but as the rash of Hollywood imitators quickly proved, it was anything but. So come on out the coast, we’ll have a few laughs as Laramy Wells and I take off our shoes and make fists with our toes as we discuss “Die Hard” for this episode of the 80’s Flick Flashback.
Here are some additional behind the scenes trivia we were unable to cover on this episode:
Near the end of the film, Hans Gruber mocks John McClane by saying that the conflict wouldn't end like an American Western with "Grace Kelly riding off into the sunset with John Wayne". McClane corrects him and says he means Gary Cooper. The film referenced is High Noon (1952), another action movie about a lone hero having to defeat a large group of enemies while being vastly outnumbered.
At the suggestion of director John McTiernan, Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode to Joy (Ninth Symphony, Fourth Movement) is the musical theme of the terrorists. Hans Gruber, the terrorist leader, even hums it at one point in the movie (while he is on the elevator with Mr. Takagi). Film composer Michael Kamen at first thought it was a "sacrilege" to use Beethoven in an action movie, telling McTiernan: "I will make mincemeat out of Wagner or Strauss for you, but why Beethoven?" McTiernan replied that Ode to Joy had been the theme of the ultra-violence in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). Kamen, a Kubrick fan, then agreed.
Sources: Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, www.filmschoolrejects.com/movies-that-are-basically-die-hard/
Intro & Outro Music: "Total Eclipse" by Nathaniel Wyver
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