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'Die Hard' debuts, makes Bruce Willis a movie star

'Die Hard' debuts, makes Bruce Willis a movie star

On July 15, 1988, Die Hard, an action film starring Bruce Willis as wisecracking New York City cop John McClane, opens in theaters across the United States. A huge box-office hit, the film established Willis as a movie star and spawned three sequels. Die Hard also became Hollywood shorthand for describing the plot of other actions films, as in “Speed is Die Hard on a bus.”

Based on Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever,Die Hard follows McClane as he goes to meet his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) at her company’s holiday party in a Los Angeles office building. When the building is taken over by a band of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), McClane must single-handedly fight off the bad guys. As played by Willis, McClane was notable as a new type of action hero–funny and flawed. The film, which was directed by John McTiernan (The Hunt for Red October, Last Action Hero), received four Oscar nominations, for Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects Editing.

Willis, who was born March 19, 1955, and grew up in New Jersey, first rose to fame with the romantic comedy/detective drama TV series Moonlighting (1985-1989), in which he played smart-aleck private eye David Addison, who ran a detective agency with ex-model Maddie Hayes, played by Cybill Shepherd. After the success of Die Hard, Willis, emerged as one of Hollywood’s top leading men. In addition to starring in three Die Hard sequels: Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) and Live Free or Die Hard (2007), Willis racked up a long list of movie credits, including roles in Pulp Fiction (1994), Twelve Monkeys (1995) and Armageddon (1998). In 1999, he co-starred in The Sixth Sense (1999), an Oscar-nominated horror film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film was a huge commercial and critical success and became famous for the line “I see dead people.” Willis also starred in Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable.

From 1987 to 2000, Willis was married to Demi Moore, who also emerged as an A-list star in the 1980s and 1990s, appearing in high-profile films such as St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), Ghost (1990), A Few Good Men (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), Striptease (1996) and G.I. Jane (1997).


Die Hard (film series)

Die Hard is an American action film series that originated with Roderick Thorp's novel Nothing Lasts Forever. All five films revolve around the main character of John McClane, a New York City/Los Angeles police detective who continually finds himself in the middle of a crisis where he is the only hope against disaster. [3] The films have grossed a combined $1.4 billion worldwide.

  • Die Hard (1988)
  • Die Hard 2 (1990)
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Die Hard humanized (and perfected) the action movie

During the ’80s golden era of American action movies, there was a certain way these movies looked: burnished steel, gleaming sweat, bulging muscles that couldn’t possibly exist without chemical enhancement. The movies that people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were making looked nothing like real life. They looked like a bodybuilder’s fever dream, the sort of thing he might imagine after doing a mountain of blow and watching nothing but early MTV for 48 hours. One fascinating thing about 1988’s Die Hard , quite possibly the best action movie ever made, is that it didn’t look anything like that.

Schwarzenegger and Stallone, among many others, actually both turned down Die Hard, and it would’ve been a vastly different movie if either of them had played John McClane. (Perhaps as payback, the script found room to needle both of them.) Instead, as played by Bruce Willis, McClane was something other than a steroidal superman. He was an ordinary human being, and kind of an asshole. As the movie opens, we see McClane grumpily huffing at his airplane seatmate, his affable cartoon-character limo driver Argyle, and finally at his estranged wife. He’s a New York cop who wants to remain a New York cop, and he can’t accept that his wife’s business career has taken off in Los Angeles or that she’s using her maiden name. Seeing her for the first time in months, he freaks out at her and then immediately realizes that he’s being an asshole when it’s too late to do anything about it. But fortunately for McClane, before he has a chance to make more of an ass out of himself, some terrorists show up. And all of a sudden, he’s his best self.

By most human standards, the 1988 version of Bruce Willis was a well-put-together human being. But by ’80s action-hero standards, he was a scrawny motormouth. He made the same sorts of one-liners that every other action hero did, but from him, they were more of a constant stream—a nervous tic coming from someone who immediately knew that he was in way, way over his head. He annoyed everyone—the villains, sure, but also his wife, who knew he was alive because “Only John can drive somebody that crazy.” Taking out the gang of hijackers, and surviving to the end of the movie, took mental strength and inventiveness and quick thinking and luck and self-destructive berserker courage. McClane had to be willing to launch himself off the side of a building with a firehose wrapped around his waist, to drop a brick of C4 down an elevator shaft, and to hurl a dead body from a window onto the hood of an oblivious cop car. None of it looked easy. All of it took commitment.

Die Hard director John McTiernan knew the way ’80s action movies were supposed to look. The year before making Die Hard, he’d directed Schwarzenegger in Predator , a movie that might represent the peak of the man’s movie-hero inhumanity. Predator ends with Schwarzenegger’s character surviving a thermonuclear blast—a feat he accomplishes by running away and then jumping. If a towering dreadlocked alien had blown up a WMD right next to John McClane, John McClane would be dead. But given the slightest bit of daylight, he would find a way to wriggle through. (Oddly enough, both Schwarzenegger and McClane crawl through waterfalls in their movies. But Schwarzenegger is deep in the jungle, while McClane is 30 stories above Los Angeles, in a fancy office where someone has exactingly recreated Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. What a fucking run McTiernan was on for a little while there.)

The everyman appeal of Willis is key to the success of Die Hard. Before taking the role of McClane, Willis had mostly been known as a wisecracking TV detective, one who sometimes sang oldies, on Moonlighting . In the movie, he kept that natural asshole charm fully intact, and he also transformed himself into a credible badass by throwing himself physically into the role, doing some of his own stunts and always convincingly coming across as someone who knew he could die at any moment. By the end of the movie, Willis looks like shit. He’s been shot, strangled, battered, scraped, and, in the movie’s most wince-worthy moment, made to pull shards of broken glass out of the soles of his bare feet. But he’s still able to think quickly enough to tape a gun to his back and use his last two bullets to shoot the last two bad guys.

The last of those bad guys, of course, is Hans Gruber, perhaps the single most iconic villain in the history of the genre. Incredibly, Alan Rickman had never been in a movie before playing Gruber McTiernan and producer Joel Silver cast him after seeing him in a stage production of Dangerous Liaisons. As Gruber, Rickman has a blast, and he does so in ways that make it look like Gruber himself is having a blast, too. Gruber does all sorts of dastardly things in Die Hard, but it’s still possible to watch the movie and root for him. From a certain perspective, the movie is Ocean’s Eleven with a meddling cop who comes along and fucks everything up. It’s fun to watch people who are good at what they do, and Gruber and his team go about their hijacking with a crisp, brutal efficiency that’s not without its charm.

Of course, most of those hijackers are stock characters lead henchman Karl, with his towering physique and flaxen hair, looks more like an ’80s action-movie character than anyone else in the movie. But Gruber, like McClane, seems like he could be a real human being. In his overly well-trimmed beard and his expensively tailored suit, he looks almost fussy. He preens and snarls and whispers threats with real delight, like he can’t believe he’s getting away with his intricately planned caper. Admiring a model in a Nakatomi Plaza office, Gruber says, “The exactness, the attention to every conceivable detail, it’s beautiful.” You can tell that he feels the same way about his own scheme.

The movie also has a great array of minor characters, all of whom get their own satisfying little story arcs. There’s De’voreaux White as Argyle, the aforementioned limo driver who cheers McClane on, unseen, from the parking garage and gets his own moment of heroism at the end. There’s Reginald VelJohnson, before he had too many Urkels on his team, as McClane’s friend on the ground who has to find it within himself to pull a gun one more time. (Somehow, the most dated aspect of the movie is Al Powell’s remorse at having shot a kid with a toy raygun.) There’s Hart Bochner as Ellis, the grinning, deluded cokehead who negotiates million-dollar deals over breakfast and talks himself into an early grave. And there are two hall-of-fame ’80s-movie assholes, William Atherton (Walter Peck from Ghostbusters) and Paul Gleeson (Assistant Principal Vernon from The Breakfast Club), both sneering from the sidelines and making things harder for McClane.

In confining all the action to a single building, in a single night, Die Hard builds real stakes, using every available quirk of architecture to create more traps for McClane to escape. And even though the movie takes well over two hours to play out, it has a real austere economy to its build. McTiernan understood pacing and geography and logic, and it’s immensely satisfying to watch McClane take out his tormenters one by one. There’s an almost video-game-like purity to the way the story plays out. And unlike so many of the other big ’80s action movies, Die Hard is not about Vietnam, even in an oblique way. It even mocks the idea, as the FBI’s two doomed Agents Johnson approach Nakatomi Plaza in their helicopter. The elder of the two howls with delight: “Just like fucking Saigon, eh, slick?” His younger counterpart just rolls his eyes: “I was in junior high, dickhead.”

That simplified structure would, of course, make Die Hard massively influential. It spawned four sequels and counting, all of which are at least watchable and one of which is a bona fide classic. (That would be 1995’s Die Hard With A Vengeance, the only sequel that McTiernan directed, which moved the action to McClane’s home turf in New York, and which, incidentally, includes jokes about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The Clinton joke is about how she’s going to be president.) It would also transform Willis into a bona fide action star on the level of Stallone and Schwarzenegger.

More than that, though, it changed the grammar of action movies. The big, slick, brutal, posthuman ’80s action movies would live on for a few more years, and the style would produce a few more classics. But the genre, going forward, tended to pare things down, focusing on isolated settings, charismatic villains with elaborate plans, and everyman heroes suddenly thrown into extreme circumstances. Die Hard-in-a-whatever movies proliferated, to the point where they eventually took place in ridiculous locales like a Stanley Cup Finals game seven (Sudden Death) or Air Force One ( Air Force One ). Die Hard, then, has a rich legacy. It’s a near-perfect example of its form, a platonic ideal of the action movie. And it’s also the movie that brought action cinema back down to earth.

Other notable 1988 action movies: In a very busy year, the runner-up spot has to go to Bloodsport, the movie that gave Belgian kickboxer and longtime bit-part player Jean-Claude Van Damme his first and maybe best starring role. Bloodsport is a sports movie and an action movie at the same time, and while there had been movies about underground fighting tournaments before— Enter The Dragon , at least nominally, was that—the Kumite in Bloodsport was the first to take it seriously, to show clashing styles and qualifying rounds. When the UFC came into existence a few years later, it almost seemed like an attempt to make the Kumite real. And that setting makes for a great showcase for Van Damme, a man who looks better throwing spinning jumpkicks than any other movie star in the history of cinema. His wooden, fresh-faced idealism and his willingness to do splits whenever possible made it plainly apparent that we were looking at a star. The following years would bear that out.

Van Damme’s closest peer would also make his debut in 1988. In Above The Law, Steven Seagal attempted to tell his life story, or at least the version that he loves telling whoever will listen: mastering aikido in Japan, doing black ops work for the CIA, returning home to America as an avenger. But the movie version of Seagal’s character didn’t become an enduring B-movie star. Instead, he became a Chicago cop who fights mobsters and fellow Vietnam-vet operatives on behalf of penniless immigrants. Seagal’s screen persona wasn’t quite fully formed in Above The Law the ponytail, among other things, would come later. But his fighting technique—quick and brutal, heavy on the snapping of opponents’ limbs—felt like something new and exciting.

Elsewhere, the excess of the prime ’80s action movie was alive and healthy. In Action Jackson, the former stuntman Craig Baxley directed Carl Weathers in a beautifully insane over-the-top badass-cop adventure that stopped just short of self-parody. It’s the sort of movie that opens with assassins shooting a guy, setting him on fire, and then sending him plunging through a high-rise window, down through an outdoor patio table where someone is having lunch. It’s awesome. The same year, Clint Eastwood ended his run as Dirty Harry Callahan with The Dead Pool, a beautifully absurd movie where coked-up rock star Jim Carrey lip-syncs “Welcome To The Jungle.” And in Rambo III, Stallone built on the cartoonish absurdity of Rambo: First Blood Part II by raging into Afghanistan to fight Russian forces alongside the heroic freedom fighters who, not long after, would become the Taliban. It’s a weird one to watch today.

Meanwhile, Walter Hill directed Schwarzenegger and (unfortunately) Jim Belushi in Red Heat, a run-of-the-mill buddy-cop comedy that was at least smart enough to explain away Schwarzenegger’s accent by making him Russian. (The year’s best buddy-cop comedy turned out to be Midnight Run, which was way more of a comedy than an action movie.) And in Cop, James Woods gave a uniquely sweaty take on the loose-cannon detective archetype.

As fun as all those movies are, though, the low-budget movies of 1988 are even better. Consider, if you will, They Live, John Carpenter’s paranoid sci-fi masterpiece about the one-percenter space overlords exploiting the labor of everyone else. The movie includes one of the longest and most hilarious brutal fistfights ever put to film, and it briefly made a movie star out of pro-wrestling great Rowdy Roddy Piper, who also got a chance to flex in the same year’s deeply underrated Hell Comes To Frogtown. In that one, he’s the last fertile man left alive in a post-apocalyptic landscape, and he’s out to save a band of women from a society of rubber-masked mutants. (Seriously, see this movie if you haven’t.) Or consider, Maniac Cop, a Z-grade, tongue-halfway-in-cheek action-horror hybrid with some of the most insane stunt sequences that you’ll ever see in an American movie.

Speaking of insane sequences: Jackie Chan continued his incredible run in 1988, with a pair of classics, Police Story 2 and Dragons Forever. He was continuing to hone his style, setting his movies in the present day and finding better ways to integrate his goofy slapstick comedy into his astonishing fight scenes. Soon enough, they’d be one and the same.


Yippee Ki No: The Lows Of Bruce Willis

Sylvester Stallone famously called Bruce Willis greedy and lazy when he replaced the actor on the set of The Expendables 3. Willis apparently wanted $1 million a day for his work on the sequel, and Stallone quite rightly said no. Another spat with director Kevin Smith did him no favors, either, with Smith citing his experience of working with the actor as "soul-crushing." Due to the negative opinion of his peers, Willis has earned himself the reputation as being one of those actors that nobody wants to work with, and this could be why his most recent movie roles have been with directors who, let's face it, aren't exactly at the top of Hollywood's playing field.

Steven C. Miller and Matt Eskandari are just two of the B-movie directors that Willis has involved himself with, and it's likely that his affiliation is as the result of his desire for a quick and easy paycheck. Some of his film roles equate to mere minutes of screen time, so it's clear that his 'lazy and greedy' reputation is still not behind him. His performances have been mostly awful, as you will know already if you have tuned in to see Willis's cookie-cutter turns in such lowlights as Trauma Center, Survive The Night, and First Kill. Some would suggest Willis is going down the route taken by Nicolas Cage, but at least that actor has the excuse of unpaid tax bills to justify his curiously bad movie choices.

Of course, many actors take roles in movies that don't interest them. They still need to feed their families, after all, and those mortgages on their expensive mansions aren't going to pay themselves! But at least these actors break up their roles in trash movies to star in films that genuinely stir their passions, but this doesn't seem to be the case with Willis. A quick glance at his IMDB page testifies to this, as in the last 5 years (with only two exceptions), every one of his films has been bargain bin fodder.


Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

Like Die Hard and Die Hard 2, the third film in the series originally began life as another property entirely – and in fact, several screenplays were considered and rejected before its producers settled on the one filmed by a returning John McTiernan in 1995.

The first screenplay considered was called Troubleshooter, and originally written on spec by one James Haggin. This would have seen McClane fight terrorists on a Caribbean cruise ship, but the idea was ditched when the producers learned that a film called Under Siege, then still in production, had a similar plot. In a notable instance of Hollywood recycling, Troubleshooters story was later revived for the rather dire Speed 2: Cruise Control.

Later, writers including John Milius, Doug Richardson, and John Fasano each had a crack at writing a Die Hard 3 story or script, but none passed muster with Bruce Willis. The problem, it seemed, was finding a scenario that hadn’t already been thought of – in the wake of Die Hard’s popularity, movies such as Cliffhangerand Executive Decision were billed respectively as Die Hardon a mountain or Die Hard on a plane, for example. We have a whole catalogue of movies that are “Die Hard on a…” right here.

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Eventually, a script was found, written by Jonathan Hensleigh, who’d already cut his teeth on the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles before working on a spec script called Simon Says. Written with young action star Brandon Lee in mind, the script was picked up by Warner as a possible fourth Lethal Weapon movie, which would presumably have seen Murtaugh and Riggs head to New York to put a stop to Simon the terrorist’s bomb triggering antics.

Instead, the story was retooled as another McClane adventure, which would explain why the movie feels somewhat different from the previous two movies. McClane’s fractious, fast-talking partnership with Samuel L. Jackson’s Zeus Carver (whose character was actually female in one draft of the script) feels very much like Murtaugh and Riggs’ love-hate patter, and while it’s highly entertaining (and well put together by McTiernan) the city-sprawling violence is a world away from the towering claustrophobia of Die Hard.


‘Die Hard’: How Bruce Willis Changed the Movies

In an excerpt from Brian Abrams’s ‘Die Hard: An Oral History,’ the people behind the best action movie in history, ‘Die Hard,’ discuss how they found their John McClane.

Brian Abrams

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Photofest

DAN MAZURScript Analyst, Lawrence Gordon Productions (1986–1988)Director of Creative Affairs, Lawrence Gordon Productions (1988–1989)Vice President of Creative Affairs, Largo Productions (1989–1991)

Larry [Gordon] really had a studio system approach where you get the script ready to go, you get the green light on the movie, you hire the director, and then you cast it. It keeps too many competing power centers from coming in… Once the director was in place, the star roles would only then be offered to actors. Larry did not want a star dictating the choice of his director, which he felt was the producer’s prerogative… I was present for some of the casting meetings, and as I remember the part was offered to Al Pacino and Richard Gere.

JOHN MCTIERNANDirector, Die Hard (1988)

When I first started working on it, they were talking about Richard Gere. The part was very buttoned down. He’s wearing a sport jacket, and he’s very suave and sophisticated and all that stuff. It was a sort of Ian Fleming hero, the gentleman man of action.

BEAU MARKSProduction Manager, Die Hard (1988)

All those folks were too good to make an action film. Action films were what B-stars did, not A-stars. But they were becoming the A-pictures, and they were the ones that were starting to make all the money.

STEVEN E. DE SOUZAWriter, Die Hard (1988)

They went to Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. They went to Sly, who turned it down. They went to Richard Gere—turned it down. They went to James Caan—turned it down. They went to Burt Reynolds, and all of these people rejected it because, remember, this is 1987. You had all these Rambo movies. We’ve had Commando, Predator, and in the wake of all of these, the hero, they said, was like a pussy. The reaction? “This guy’s no hero.” Right? In desperation, they went to Bruce Willis.

JEB STUARTWriter, Die Hard (1988)

To a lot of people it was like, “Are you kidding me?”

ARNOLD RIFKINCo-founding partner, Triad Artists (1984–1992)

Bruce was just in heaven shooting movies. His second movie was Sunset. Blake [Edwards] had gone to him behind my back after [his first movie] Blind Date [released in March of 1987] and gave him a script, and Bruce embraced this movie, the story of Tom Mix. He was terrified that he wouldn’t have a film career. That was what was sitting on my shoulders as an agent.


Bruce Willis Stars in Commercial for ‘Die Hard’ Car Batteries

Twitter began buzzing on Sunday when a teaser of Bruce Willis as “Die Hard” protagonist John McClane surfaced from several accounts, including Willis’ daughter, Rumer Willis, NFL sideline reporter Erin Andrews and comedy group The Lonely Island. They all tweeted out the clip teasing that something big was coming during the NFL game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, complete with the hashtags #DieHardIsBack and #Ad.

In the 15-second clip, Willis as McClane whistles as he walks toward a group of menacing-looking people waiting for him. He unzips his jacket and begins to take it off as it fades to black. Spliced in-between video footage is the message: “As one story ends, a new one begins.” Many fans on Twitter postulated that a sixth “Die Hard” film could be on the horizon, but alas, that was not the case.

Turns out, the franchise was simply promoting DieHard brand car batteries. In the two-minute ad, Willis returns to the McClane character and embarks on a dangerous mission to get a new battery for his dead car. He jumps through the glass of an Advance Auto Parts store — which is where the batteries can be purchased — and must wiggle his way through a vent and dodge many bullets in order to start his car again.

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Of course, the clip included a few easter eggs from the franchise, including an appearance from McClane’s limousine driver, Argyle, and a scene in which McClane bashes an enemy over the head with his own brand of car battery. The advertisement ends with Argyle saying “Yippee ki yay,” to which McClane responds, “Hey, that’s my line!”


‘Die Hard’ Is a Christmas Movie as Far as These States Are Concerned

'Die Hard' is one of the most popular Christmas films for four states as far as streaming search, according to a study by StreamingObserver, while 'Home Alone' and 'Gremlins' are the top movies in six states apiece.

Ryan Parker

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It’s that time of year once again to trim the tree, make cookies, sing carols &mdash and argue whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

Star Bruce Willis a few months back put a major dent in the argument for those in favor of the 1988 action film being considered in line with such classics as Christmas Vacation and It’s a Wonderful Life when he said it wasn’t a Christmas movie. But in a number of states, Die Hard is actually the most popular film of the holiday season as far as streaming search goes, according to a recent study by StreamingObserver.

The site &mdashwhich covers news, reviews and other topics related to streaming entertainment &mdash created a map using data from Rotten Tomatoes (top 50 Christmas movies) and Google Trends (statewide search frequencies) and worked with partners Mindnet Analytics to determine each state’s favorite Christmas film (not necessarily the pic searched for more than all others, but the one searched for more relative to other states), according to Chris Brantner, editor in chief of StreamingObserver.

And welcome to the party, pal, because Die Hard is the top film for these four states: Washington, Missouri, Wisconsin and Virginia.

The 20th Century Fox pic takes place on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles when a lone, shoeless cop has to battle a gang of terrorists. But the movie was released in the summer of 1988 &mdash hence the debate.

Around this time every year, fans have a spirited, mostly tongue-in-cheek back-and-forth as to why the Willis film is or is not a Christmas classic. Die Hard is an action movie first and foremost, one side argues, while the other points out Christmas plays a major role in the story. Even stars and TV personalities, such as CNN’s Jake Tapper, have joined the debate.

Willis himself dealt a massive blow to the argument in July during his Comedy Central Roast when he closed the evening declaring that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie: “It’s a fucking Bruce Willis movie!”

Asked afterward by The Hollywood Reporter how he thought fans would take the news, the actor responded, “We’ll see.”

As far as the most popular search-streamed Christmas films according to the StreamingObserver map, that honor is shared by Home Alone and Gremlins, which are the top picks in six states apiece. Other favorites include Batman Returns, Scrooged and Love Actually.


DieHard Lives in New Bruce Willis Ad

DieHard, the former Sears brand, is back at Advance Auto stores across the nation. A DieHard commercial ran on the recent Packers/ Tampa Bay game, taking characters from the original Die Hard movie, and reprising them in an ad with original stars, including Bruce Willis. The plot begins with John McClane (Willis) lamenting his dead car battery. You can watch it below.

Advance Auto Parts Inc. acquired the DieHard brand from Transform Holdco LLC (the former Sears) for $200 million cash in December of 2019. The acquisition gave Advance the right to sell DieHard batteries and let the company extend the DieHard brand into other automotive and vehicle categories. The deal also allowed Transformco, basically the pieces of old Sears, to sell DieHard brand batteries. Advance also allowed Transformco an royalty-free, perpetual license to develop, market, and sell DieHard branded products in non-automotive categories.

“DieHard has the highest brand awareness and regard of any automotive battery brand in North America and will enable Advance to build a leadership position within the critical battery category,” said Tom Greco, president and CEO, Advance Auto Parts, in a December press release.

Sears sold its Craftsman brand in 2017 for $900 million to Stanley Black & Decker that sale did not go well as in March of 2019, Stanley sued because Sears was launched its own new line of professional-grade mechanics’ tools under the sub-brand Craftsman Ultimate Collection.

The DieHard brand dates to 1967, and became, with Kenmore and Craftsman, one of Sears’ best known products. In recent years, Sears had also created a DieHard Auto Center brand extension, a rebrand of the Sears Auto store. Today, there are fewer than 100 Sears stores, though the brand lives in the online Sears.com and in independent Sears Hometown stores.

Advance Auto Parts Inc. acquired the DieHard brand from Transform Holdco LLC for $200 million in December of 2019, utilizing cash on hand.

The acquisition gave Advance the right to sell DieHard batteries and let the company extend the DieHard brand into other automotive and vehicular categories. The deal also allowed Transformco, the basically the pieces of old Sears, to sell DieHard brand batteries. Advance also allowed Transformco an exclusive royalty-free, perpetual license to develop, market, and sell DieHard branded products in non-automotive categories.

“DieHard has the highest brand awareness and regard of any automotive battery brand in North America and will enable Advance to build a leadership position within the critical battery category,” said Tom Greco, president and CEO, Advance Auto Parts, in a December press release.

Sears sold its Craftsman brand in 2017 for $900 million to Stanley Black & Decker that sale did not go well as in March of 2019, Stanley sued because Sears was launched its own new line of professional-grade mechanics’ tools under the sub-brand Craftsman Ultimate Collection.


‘Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherfucker’: How ‘Die Hard’ Made John McClane a Modern-Day Cowboy

“Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” doesn’t appear anywhere inNothing Lasts Forever, the 1979 Roderick Thorp novel that inspired Die Hard, the classic 1988 action film that made Bruce Willis a movie star. (Amusingly, however, Joe Leland, the book’s sexagenarian cop who would be turned into the film’s wisecracking John McClane, does, at one point, hurl a body off a roof, bidding it farewell with a “Geronimo, motherfucker.”) But like much that helped make Die Hard iconic, the line was conceived by the movie’s screenwriters, who saw McClane not just as an everyman cop but a newfangled Western hero.

“The cowboy thing was just always a sub-theme running through the whole piece,” Jeb Stuart explained in 2018, during a Q&A that commemorated Die Hard’s 30th anniversary, as he sat alongside co-writer Steven E. de Souza. The two men had worked on the film separately: Stuart (who later co-wrote The Fugitive) had come on initially, figuring out how to turn the book into a movie, while de Souza (a screenwriter on 48 Hrs. and Commando) took over after the basic narrative spine was put into place and the project had been green-lit.

You probably remember the scene where the line is first uttered. As McClane makes contact via walkie-talkie with Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), a master criminal who’s led a team of thieves to seize L.A.’s Nakatomi Plaza, the villain questions this cop’s motivations — and his identity. “You know my name,” Gruber says, “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? Marshall Dillon [from Gunsmoke]?”

“I was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers, actually,” McClane sasses back. “I really like those sequined shirts.”

Unimpressed, Gruber asks snidely, “Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?” McClane knows he’s outnumbered and outgunned. It’s going to take a miracle to save the hostages, including his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), and himself. But he’s a cocky son-of-a-bitch, and there’s just something so incredibly patronizing about how Gruber refers to him as “Mr. Cowboy.” So it’s right then that McClane unveils what would become his trademark quip, and one of the great retorts in blockbuster history: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.”

It was de Souza who came up with the line while bonding with Willis in his trailer over their shared love of old TV westerns. “Roy Rogers used to say, ‘Yippee-ki-yay, kids,’” de Souza said in 2015. “So it had to become ‘yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker’ in the movie.” (“We had a really adult conversation about what was the proper way to say it,” Willis once recalled. “Was it ‘yippee-ki-yay,’ or ‘yippee-ti-yay’? I’m glad that I held on to ‘yippee-ki-yay.’”)

The 1980s were rampant with pithy action-movie catchphrases it was usually something the protagonist would say while doing something cool. (Think Al Pacino bellowing “Say hello to my li’l friend!” in Scarface, or Arnold Schwarzenegger declaring “I’ll be back” in The Terminator.) Before there were memes, we had ubiquitous little expressions like “Hasta la vista, baby” floating through the culture, and screenwriters were desperate to come up with new zingers. Not that those attempts always succeeded. “Whenever you think you’re writing a line that’s going to catch on, it never does,” de Souza said in that same 2015 interview. “A lot of people — cough, Sylvester Stallone, cough — think they can invent them. But the line you think is going to catch on never catches on and the audience decides what is the takeaway line.”

Clearly, “Yippee-ki-yay” became that line from Die Hard. And so, in the next four sequels, the producers kept figuring out ways to incorporate it. The line became part of our association with the series and its unlikely, sarcastic hero — a shorthand for his irreverent, kick-ass manner. In fact, when 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard was coming out — the first Die Hard movie in 12 years — Fox plastered buses with ads that simply read “Yippee Ki Yay Mo—.” The studio knew that potential moviegoers could complete the phrase on their own — and understand what it meant. Oh yeah, John McClane was back, motherfucker.

Mark Bomback, who wrote the Live Free or Die Hard screenplay, tells me, “I knew I needed to find a home for that line at some point.” But the trick was deciding where. Initially, the “Yippee-ki-yay” appeared earlier in the script, but around the second or third draft, Bomback decided it would be better to have McClane yell the line while shooting himself through his own shoulder so as to kill Timothy Olyphant’s bad guy behind him. Asked why the catchphrase has endured, Bomback replies, “I suspect it has to do with punctuating a familiar, even corny, cowboy phrase with what’s arguably among the coolest of expletives.”

The phrase has transcended the franchise, being parodied and celebrated in other mediums. In a 2012 episode of 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy writes a woefully bad action movie, convinced that the McClane-like hero needs to tell his beloved, “Our love is off-the-charts, Kemosabe.” On their 2008 album Six Shooter, the Edinburgh hard-rock outfit the Tyrant Lizard Kings opened with “Yippee-Ki-Yay Motherfucker,” a head-banging blast of fury that has seemingly nothing to do with John McClane except for the euphoric holler of the title during the chorus. The band broke up about eight years ago, but former bassist Chris Smith says the group always loved Die Hard and how “badass” McClane’s catchphrase was. “When they showed the film on terrestrial British TV in the 1990s, the ‘motherfucker’ was changed to ‘kemosabe,’ which, let’s face it, really doesn’t sound the same.”

A couple years earlier, a joke rock group called Guyz Nite created a YouTube video for their song “Die Hard,” which paid homage to the franchise, including its indelible catchphrase, but ran afoul of Fox, which requested it be taken down. But when Live Free or Die Hard was about to be released, the studio paid the band to put the song back up on the site — with new lyrics that mentioned the forthcoming sequel. “It’s a guy’s guy’s movie,” Guyz Nite frontman Jim Marsh raved to the New York Times in 2007 about Die Hard. “It’s one of our favorite movies.”

And as Die Hard has risen up the ranks of Hollywood’s best action movies — as well as becoming a certified Christmas staple — new ways to capitalize on its popularity have cropped up, including the recent A Die Hard Christmas, which is meant to look like a kid’s yuletide retelling of the R-rated action film. Written by author and stand-up comic Doogie Horner, the illustrated book features “Yippee-ki-yay,” although Horner (a massive Die Hard fan) opposed tacking on the “motherfucker.” “[The book] is for adults, but I wanted it to be appropriate for children also,” he told me in 2017. But his editors pushed back: “[They] said, ‘No, it should [end with] “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.”’ And I said, ‘Well, first of all, he doesn’t say it at the end. And, also, it’s the only curse word in the book, and it’s a big one.’ … But everybody was like, ‘You gotta do it — we love the word “motherfucker.”’ And I was like, ‘Fine, here’s your curse word. Are you happy now?’”

Beyond its coarseness, though, the catchphrase also invisibly bridged the gap between two eras of action cinema. As Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle and the American Action Movie author Eric Lichtenfeld put it, “‘Yippee-ki-yay’ summons America’s mythic, gunfighter past, while ‘motherfucker’ belongs to the modern action movie. Seen in this light, the line also recalls the macho cinema of the 1970s, when Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Don Siegel helped create the action genre while continuing to trade in Westerns.”

To be sure, the ethos of the Western is all over Die Hard, particularly in its depiction of McClane. Speaking to me recently, Horner notes, “Western stars were less indestructible than action heroes, and when John gets hit, it hurts.” This was part of Stuart’s initial design for McClane, wanting to make a normal-guy action hero that he could relate to — not a Schwarzenegger-esque god. (Interestingly, Eastwood, the king of Westerns, was approached about maybe playing McClane, but he declined. “I’ll never forget,” Stuart recalled in 2018, “he said, ‘I don’t get the humor.’”) In fact, in the early script stages, the character’s name was actually John Ford, a tip of the (cowboy) hat to perhaps the greatest Western director of all time.

But just as profoundly, McClane embodies the quintessential stoic, solitary man who must take out the bad guys all on his own — a trope that draws directly from the Western. Die Hard acknowledges this connection during its finale. Convinced he’s defeated McClane at last, Gruber smugly informs him, “This time, John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.” He’s referencing the finale of High Noon, which follows a somewhat similar trajectory as Die Hard, pitting one guy against a seemingly unbeatable team of villains in a confined space. But Gruber’s putdown is also a continuation of an attitude he’s had about McClane all along. Not taking this lone cop seriously, Gruber views McClane as just some dumb American who thinks he can play action-movie cowboy.

Not only does Gruber underestimate his nemesis, though, he gets the lead actor of High Noon wrong. “That was Gary Cooper, asshole,” McClane fires back, practically offended. Soon after, McClane kills Gruber and rescues his wife. In Die Hard, McClane doesn’t just save the day — he reaffirms the myth of the American cowboy who, against long odds, will restore law and order.

As for Roy Rogers, he inspired “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker,” but he also helped spark a less-famous, but no-less-crucial Die Hard cowboy moment. After McClane shoots Gruber, our hero sneers, “Happy trails, Hans,” as the bad guy is about to go out the window. “Happy Trails” was the song that used to play at the end of Rogers’ radio and TV shows. McClane, who always had a fondness for ol’ Roy, ultimately becomes him. Suddenly, the cowboy isn’t a relic of the past: He just looks like Bruce Willis now, trading a ride into the sunset on top of a horse for a kiss with his beloved in the back of a limo.

Tim Grierson

Tim Grierson is a contributing editor at MEL. He writes about film and pop culture for Screen International, Rolling Stone and Vulture.


‘Die Hard’ Is a Christmas Movie as Far as These States Are Concerned

'Die Hard' is one of the most popular Christmas films for four states as far as streaming search, according to a study by StreamingObserver, while 'Home Alone' and 'Gremlins' are the top movies in six states apiece.

Ryan Parker

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It’s that time of year once again to trim the tree, make cookies, sing carols &mdash and argue whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

Star Bruce Willis a few months back put a major dent in the argument for those in favor of the 1988 action film being considered in line with such classics as Christmas Vacation and It’s a Wonderful Life when he said it wasn’t a Christmas movie. But in a number of states, Die Hard is actually the most popular film of the holiday season as far as streaming search goes, according to a recent study by StreamingObserver.

The site &mdashwhich covers news, reviews and other topics related to streaming entertainment &mdash created a map using data from Rotten Tomatoes (top 50 Christmas movies) and Google Trends (statewide search frequencies) and worked with partners Mindnet Analytics to determine each state’s favorite Christmas film (not necessarily the pic searched for more than all others, but the one searched for more relative to other states), according to Chris Brantner, editor in chief of StreamingObserver.

And welcome to the party, pal, because Die Hard is the top film for these four states: Washington, Missouri, Wisconsin and Virginia.

The 20th Century Fox pic takes place on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles when a lone, shoeless cop has to battle a gang of terrorists. But the movie was released in the summer of 1988 &mdash hence the debate.

Around this time every year, fans have a spirited, mostly tongue-in-cheek back-and-forth as to why the Willis film is or is not a Christmas classic. Die Hard is an action movie first and foremost, one side argues, while the other points out Christmas plays a major role in the story. Even stars and TV personalities, such as CNN’s Jake Tapper, have joined the debate.

Willis himself dealt a massive blow to the argument in July during his Comedy Central Roast when he closed the evening declaring that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie: “It’s a fucking Bruce Willis movie!”

Asked afterward by The Hollywood Reporter how he thought fans would take the news, the actor responded, “We’ll see.”

As far as the most popular search-streamed Christmas films according to the StreamingObserver map, that honor is shared by Home Alone and Gremlins, which are the top picks in six states apiece. Other favorites include Batman Returns, Scrooged and Love Actually.


Watch the video: Action Movie 2020 Die Hard 1 Full Movie - рeпкuй оpeшeк 1988 (January 2022).