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5 Unlikely Inspirations That Made The Die Hard Marathon Possible

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On Monday, December 24 (aka Christmas Eve), Space will celebrate the Die Hard franchise—and its oft-debated status as a Christmas movie—by giving you multiple opportunities to watch the first, second, and fifth installments in the series. If you’re one of those people who revisits Die Hard every year as part of your holiday ritual, it may be difficult to imagine a time when this franchise didn’t exist. However, there was a time when director John McTiernan and his collaborators were just a bunch of filmmakers looking for inspiration wherever they could find it—and they settled on some surprising sources.

 

1. Shakespeare

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Adapted from a novel by Roderick Thorp, the original script for Die Hard was set over the course of several days. In his decision to condense the timeline to a single day, McTiernan wasn’t thinking of the countless movies that made this choice but rather a 400-year old play with almost no resemblance to Die Hard: William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

2. Dangerous Liaisons

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A major Hollywood production of Dangerous Liaisons arrived in theatres five months after Die Hard, but McTiernan and producer Joel Silver were thinking of the stage production when they cast Hans Gruber. Immediately after attending a performance of this show, these two men agreed that their villain should be played by the guy who played Vicomte de Valmont: Alan Rickman.

 

3. Our Man Flint

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The precise pop culture origins of the name Hans Gruber are difficult to trace, but there were at least two precedents in movies and TV. Earlier Grubers include a character played by John Van Dreelen in a 1961 episode of Gunsmoke and the villain in James Coburn’s wacky 1966 spy movie spoof, Our Man Flint.

 

4. High Noon

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If your interest in movie history stops somewhere in the mid-’80s, you may find yourself somewhat in the dark when Hans Gruber references Grace Kelly riding off into the sunset with John Wayne, only to be corrected by John McClane. The unmentioned Gary Cooper film they’re alluding to is High Noon, another set-in-one-day classic that pushes this idea even further, relaying its events in something approximating real time.

 

5. A Clockwork Orange

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While it’s hard to imagine Die Hard without its prominent use of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” McTiernan encountered some resistance when he revealed this choice to composer Michael Kamen. Although Kamen worried that they were desecrating the legacy of a genius—by tying his music to action movie terrorists—he eventually came around when McTiernan revealed that he got the idea from A Clockwork Orange, which just happened to be one of Kamen’s favourite films.

 

The Die Hard Marathon comes to Space on Monday, December 24. Check out the show times below, and check out our Spacemas page for all of our holiday marathon details.

6:30 a.m.—Die Hard (encores at 1:45 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

9 a.m.—Die Hard 2 (encores at 4:15 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.)

11:45 a.m.—A Good Day To Die Hard (encores at 7 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.)