Reading the Screen: Die Hard
Posted by: David Pitt
You probably already know this, but there’s going to be a fifth Die Hard movie. It’s in the early-planning stages, which means we have no idea what the movie’s going to be about, but it’s a good excuse for some book-related Die Hard fun facts.
Die Hard, the 1988 movie that launched the franchise (and still, by far, the best in the series), was based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, in which NYPD Detective Joe Leland risks his life to save his daughter, Stephanie Gennaro, from a group of German terrorists, led by a fella named Gruber, who have invaded a building in Los Angeles. The movie follows the book quite closely, and, if you can find the novel, you ought to check it out.
Nothing Lasts Forever was the sequel to Thorp’s 1966 novel The Detective, which was made into a movie in 1968. Also called The Detective, it starred Frank Sinatra as Joe Leland. I’ve seen the movie, but I haven’t read the book, so I can’t tell you how faithful the movie is. (But, just for fun, imagine Sinatra, circa 1968, as John McClane. On second thought, don’t.)
Die Hard 2: Die Harder — one of the worst sequel titles ever conceived, by the way — came out in 1990. It’s based on 58 Minutes, a 1987 novel by Walter Wager. The main character is called Frank Malone, and the setting is New York, but otherwise the story is pretty similar to the movie (allowing, of course, for the insertion of the characters from Die Hard, like McClane’s ex-wife and that annoying reporter fella).
Wager’s 1975 novel Telefon was made into the 1977 Charles Bronson movie by the same name. Viper Three, Wager’s 1971 novel, became Twilight’s Last Gleaming, the 1977 movie. They don’t have anything to do with Die Hard, but they’re solid books, and one of the movies (hint: it’s not the one with Bronson) is very good. If you can find them, you should read them and watch them.