What could arguably be the cornerstone for Porgy’s “Cult Corner” is coming back to theaters nationwide for three days only — Die Hard will hit the big screen again for its 30th anniversary, November 11-14, as part of the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) “Big Screen Classics” theater tour.
And if you get some tickets via participating box offices or online at Fathom Events, you will be able to catch the new pre- and post-film commentary by TCM Primetime Host Ben Mankiewicz. Yes, right there in the theater!
Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother [Trucker]! (C’mon on. It’s a family show. For the children.)
If you are so inclined to see the Christmas classic — yes, Bruce, it will always be a Yuletide greeting to the fans — it’s possible there are some Easter Eggs that maybe you never knew were there in the three decades this movie has been out!
So, go! Enjoy watching the movie that introduced the great Bruce Willis and dearly departed Alan Rickman (this movie was his first feature film).
However, while nestled in your reclining theater seat, sipping on egg nog or holiday cocoa, keep an eye out for the eggs Santa left behind.
Arnold Who? Sly What?
This is the ’80s when the John McTiernan classic came out. The screen was full of two major muscle-bound dudes–Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It’s no secret that McTiernan took a chance on a relatively unknown in Willis for this blockbuster action movie. One reason was he didn’t really have a choice. The aforementioned duo passed on the script.
[FUN FACT: The star role was initially offered to Frank Sinatra! No, really. And when he was 73.]
Remember when John McClane was letting Sgt. Al Powell know about the explosives on the roof? He said there was “enough [explosives] to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger.” And previously in the movie when Hans was extolling his foe describing him as “Sylvester Stallone’s one man army.” (Rambo, anyone?)
Yup, intentional (deep) inside jokes. Nice. And not for nothing, McTiernan directed Ah-nuld in the original Predator.
Hans Wasn’t Original
This may read as sacrilege for those who believe Hans Gruber is one of the greatest on-screen bad guys ever (present company included) but that’s not the intent.
It turns out McTiernan loves action movies and spy classics, and Die Hard gives two pretty recognizable nods to them.
First, the obvious nod. There’s McClane rummaging up-and-down the stairwell looking for a way to get to Hans. And then, he bumps right into him. McClane asks who he was and Gruber answers (thanks to a directory on the wall of beloved office professionals) “Clay…Bill Clay.” Yeah, that’s 007’s smooth introduction, “Bond…James Bond.”
Now, the not-so-obvious one. Before there was Willis, long before, there was James Coburn. He was the man, and who was going to tell him otherwise? One of his good friends and training partners was Bruce Lee. Back in 1966, Coburn starred in Our Man Flint. In the movie, he fights the forces of evil with this mysterious Galaxy organization. The man in-charge? Hans Gruber.
A Familiar Address
This is one you may have heard because the news went everywhere, well, as viral as it got in the 1980s.
With a movie destined for greatness, the executive producers knew they needed to keep this development close to the vest. So, they decided to keep it at home.
The legendary, all-glass terrordome that became known as Nakatomi Plaza was actually the headquarters of 20th Century Fox. Like the whole building.
In real-life, the building wasn’t finished. In real-life, LAPD’s dispatch screen shows the true address of 20th Century Fox HQ when McClane calls 911 and “orders an effin pizza.” In real-life, renovations needed to happen because those explosions really happened in the building.
The number has changed but the address stays the same.
Our Cuddly Hero
There’s Det. John McClane in JFK, fighting the crowd, to board his plane. Eventually, he would do the same at LAX meandering to his ride, chauffeured by the unforgettable Argyle, played by De’voreaux White.
[FUN FACT: White is also the guy Ray Charles almost shoots for stealing a guitar in The Blues Brothers. You’re welcome.]
Back to the bear. You remember it was a peace offering to his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia). Turns out that very bear is known for spreading joy in another movie, The Hunt for Red October. Another McTiernan classic starring Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery, we meet Tom Clancy’s hero Jack Ryan.
In the movie, after the fanfare and fighting, the threat has been vanquished. But, Ryan shows us all that America has a reason to smile and know everything’s going to be alright. Watch the ending again: Ryan takes a gift with him on the way home–our friend, McClane’s bear.
His Fake Lil’ Piggies
Okay, quick poll: Who has balled up their feet to reduce stress, just to see if it works like we saw John McClane do in Die Hard?
Turns out that habit would come back to haunt him because when McClane bumps into his foe in the stairwell (See ‘Hans Wasn’t Original’), Gruber sees his adversary isn’t wearing shoes.
That’s when the idea strikes him: “Shoot the glass!” That’s real glass, which can get really sharp when fragments are scattered all over the floor. To help protect the movie star, McTiernan gave Willis rubber feet. Ah, the things we do for those we love.
That Look was Real
We all know the scene. Just look at that face!
Hans refuses to give up. The battle between McClane and Gruber reaches its climax in the film. And there’s Hans, hanging on to dear life thanks to a trusty little Timex around the wrist of McClane’s wife.
You may not know that Snape did his own stunts. Really! That’s him about to fall to his demise 40 feet below. And he had a three count to prepare. Unfortunately for Rickman, McTiernan told his stunt coordinator to let him go a second early. And that’s the shot in the final film.
Yeah, that’s the look of real “Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.”
BONUS: Die Hard: Ultimate Edition DVD
If you own the Die Hard: Ultimate Edition two-DVD case, you may have missed this one. Put in Disc Two to see the special features. The menu lights up, nice. The theme is Nakatomi Plaza, cool. When you hover on a section, the roof lights up, lovely. Did you know when you press up, it highlights secret lights? Then, press enter to see the explosion. Fun for the whole family.
Merry Christmas. (And shut up, Bruce.)