OK, let’s address the elephant in the room: the Internet has fueled the ongoing argument about whether the classic action movie “Die Hard” is a Christmas film. Well, let’s answer that question right now. See these stills from the film? Bad Guy Hans Gruber walks over to one of his dead henchmen and looks at the words scrawled on his sweatshirt:
“Ho Ho Ho!”
“Merry Christmas” indeed! With those three scrawled words, “Die Hard” cements itself as not only a Christmas movie, but one of the BEST Christmas movies of all time!
This holiday edition of “Cult Movie Monday” celebrates one of the most entertaining action films of all time – or, as Bruce Willis would say:
Time To Bow Down And “Die Hard”!
Time to celebrate the “Citizen Kane” of action movies – and one of the greatest Christmas movies as well!
You all know the plot: New York City Detective John McClane arrives in Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his wife. Unfortunately, a group of terrorists, led by Hans Gruber, is holding his wife and her co-workers hostage in the Nakatomi Plaza building. Only John McClane can save them….check out the holiday trailer:
As you can see from the poster, this Christmas movie was released in July!
That said, all of the action takes place on Christmas Eve – so it’s a holiday film. And I love that the internet still argues this: Here is some great “Die Hard” trivia to “WOW” your guests at your holiday party:
“Die Hard” Turned Bruce Willis Into An Action Hero – and Alan Rickman Into A Villain!
Yes, this was the movie that made Bruce Willis a star!
In the film, when Deputy Chief Robinson says that John McClane “could be a fucking bartender for all we know”, it’s an inside joke, because Willis started in Hollywood as a bartender!
Bruce Willis was in the TV series “Moonlighting”, but this was the film that made him a movie star…he is perfect as the rogue Cop who is fighting against an army of bad guys…including Hans Gruber, played to perfection by the late Alan Rickman.
This is a key reason the film works: Rickman’s villain is funny, droll and very evil – he was far more than a one note “bad guy” – sadly, this great Actor died in 2016 – here is a look at his career:
The script for “Die Hard” allowed Rickman plenty of room to give a nuanced, subtle performance as a truly “bad guy” – which is a great balance to Willis and his “bad ass cop” – the film captures their “battle of wits” very well, as when Gruber discovers that McClane is on his walkie talkie channel, so they have a memorable chat…
Hans Gruber: [on the radio] Mr. Mystery Guest? Are you still there?
John McClane: Yeah, I’m still here. Unless you wanna open the front door for me.
Hans Gruber: Uh, no, I’m afraid not. But, you have me at a loss. You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he’s John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?
John McClane: Was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers actually. I really like those sequined shirts.
Hans Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?
John McClane: Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.
Die Hard’s Classic “Yippee-Ki-Yay!”
Another reason that “Die Hard” is so classic is the dialogue! Throughout the entire film, Willis and Rickman have a series of conversations that are funny and pointed.
The line “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!” became an immediately catchphrase – an iconic line that shows just how “bad ass” McClane is – the line has been named one of the greatest in movie history…
In fact, the film is full of great character moments, funny one liners, and great twists on action-film convention….like these guys:
Meet FBI Special Agents Johnson And Johnson!
You meet them with this funny line, as Agent Johnson answers the Walkie Talkie:
“This is Agent Johnson. No, the other one.”
Two Agents. One last name. One black, one white. These two FBI agents show up at the hostage scene and immediately alienate everyone on site. They are gruff, profane, and hilarious….and as it turns out one Johnson doesn’t really even like the other Johnson!
After annoying everyone on the ground, they jump in a helicopter and Robert Davi’s Johnson says, “Just like fuckin’ Saigon, eh, Slick?”
Grand L. Bush’s Johnson replies, “I was in junior high, dick-head.”
Being in the helicopter leads to the third reason this is such a great holiday classic!
Let’s Not Forget The Best Character In The Movie: Nakitomi Plaza!
Yes, this REAL office tower in West Los Angeles is visible – and iconic – and it’s also vital to the film’s success – it’s even in the movie’s poster! Of course, the is no such place as “Nakatomi Plaza”, but everyone in LA calls it that, and it’s crucial to the success of the film!
The role of the building begins to take shape as Willis crawls through the air ducts…he uses the building itself as a weapon against the bad guys, who then do the same.
At one point, Hans Gruber knows where McClane is hiding, and sees that he has no shoes on…so he comes up with a way to use the building against him…
Hans Gruber: “Karl, schieß dem Fenster!”
Karl gives Hans a puzzled look. Exasperated, Hans repeats it in English: “Shoot the glass!”
That leads to a very bloody escape for Willis, as his feet are torn to shreds on the broken glass.
As IMDB points out:
“In the scenes where John McClane runs through glass shards in his ‘bare’ feet after glass partitions in the computer room are shattered, Willis is in fact wearing special ‘rubber’ shoes designed to look like his own bare feet. Look closely as his feet appear quite unnaturally large in some of these crucial ‘barefoot’ scenes.”
From then on, Willis must use every part of the building in his fight back against Gruber’s gang.
Thus begins the utter destruction of Nakitomi Plaza from inside and out!
This iconic office building is actually a 20th Century Fox office tower in Century City – it’s visible for miles and is now called “Nakatomi Plaza” by everyone!
In the film, McClane literally “blows out” an entire floor of the building by dropping a chair down an elevator shaft, wrapped in explosives!
When the bomb in the elevator shaft blows out the side of the building, the effect is amazing. Here is how that effect was accomplished:
The filmmakers collected every camera flashbulb of a particularly powerful type in the Los Angeles area and wired them to the outside of the actual building to simulate the flash, and then superimposed a shot of an actual explosive blowing a hole in the wall of an all-black miniature of the building!
Nakitomi Plaza has become a tourist spot in LA – you can even buy special replicas of the building as well!
There are SO many reasons that “Die Hard” is a classic action film – any time of year, but it also rules the holiday movie season!
OK Buddy, relax! There are a lot of great holiday classics – so many great holiday films to enjoy!
Here are nine more holiday movies I love as well – everything from “Love Actually” to “Scrooged”, “Elf”, “Bad Santa” and more – check them out:
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Categories: Action Films, Art, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movies, Pop Culture, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities
I once read that Don Johnson and Richard Dean Anderson were considered for the John McClane role. Can you imagine the movie without Bruce Willis?
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As smug as Willis can be in movies, he played it straight and I can’t imagine anyone else in it!
Absolutely the smack of contrast with all the gushy, cheezy, Hallmark kind of Christmas. It’s like Scrooged in that dark comedy does a valuable balancing act with the season. I love it.
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Agree on you with “Scrooged!”
Tis the season for this! 🙂
In my (not so) humble opinion, it is DEFINITELY a Christmas film. And it is so good, that no matter how many times I have seen it, I ALWAYS watch it when it’s on TV, and still enjoy it.
Great tribute, John. 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.
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Thanks Pete! If a film is set on Christmas Eve, how can it NOT be a Christmas movie?!?!?!
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I love it as a Christmas movie !
Not a traditional Christmas movie for sure.
It takes place on Christmas eve, and a father is fighting to be reunited with his family for Christmas Day…sure, his methods may be a bit “unorthodox”….thanks for the comment!
I have never thought of Die Hard as a festive movie but I guess it is. A great show to watch, whatever the time of year.
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Well, it takes place on Christmas Eve and is infused with holiday sentiment…it’s a funny social media debate, but either way, a great action ride! Thanks for commenting, Robbie!