19 Things to Look for the Next Time You Watch Die Hard

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

John McClane was just a New York City cop trying to visit his wife and kids for Christmas, and then it all went wrong. Since being released in theaters 30 years ago, director John McTiernan’s Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis, has earned its spot among the best action movies of all time. But how well do you know McClane’s gun-toting adventures through Nakatomi Plaza?

Say, “yippee ki-yay” cowboys, because here are some things you might not have noticed in the action classic.

1. JOHN MCCLANE’S TEDDY BEAR HAS BEEN AROUND.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When off-duty NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) steps off the plane in Los Angeles to visit his kids and estranged wife, he’s carrying a giant stuffed teddy bear as a Christmas gift. But the huge bear is more than just a present—the stuffed animal is a trademark of director John McTiernan, who later used the bear as a prop in his 1990 film The Hunt for Red October.

2. WHAT’S HOLLY MAIDEN NAME AGAIN?

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When McClane makes it to Nakatomi Plaza and signs in on the computer system with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), he’s forced to check in using her maiden name. The touch-screen computer lists her surname as “Gennaro.” But when he touches the name it switches to “Gennero.” So much for wanting to be a McClane.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

3. THERE ARE SUBTLE DIGS AT A COUPLE OF BIG-NAME ACTION STARS.

Die Hard remains a classic due to the fact that its fallible lead character was unleashed on the world during a 1980s action movie landscape that featured indestructible on-screen heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both Stallone and Schwarzenegger turned down the role of John McClane, and the movie makes some inside baseball jokes at their expense for the snub.

Terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) makes fun of McClane as a kind of one-man army out of a Stallone movie, and McClane also makes a sly dig by saying the explosives on the Nakatomi roof are “enough to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

4. THE TERRORISTS GET AROUND WITH THE SAME COURIER SERVICE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Gruber’s terrorist group arrives at Nakatomi Plaza in a green box truck that says "Pacific Courier" on the side. A similar truck that says "Atlantic Courier" on the side was used in the New York City-set Die Hard: With A Vengeance, which featured Hans Gruber's brother Simon as the villain. "Pacific Courier" also appears in Speed. All three movies featured the same production designer, Jackson De Govia.

5. NAKATOMI PLAZA WAS 20TH CENTURY FOX.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The exteriors of the film’s marquee location were shot at Fox Plaza, the real-life headquarters of 20th Century Fox, the film studio that made the film. The computer system Ellis hacks into sports the exact address of the actual building, and the (now defunct) emergency contact phone numbers were allegedly the actual numbers for the management of Fox Plaza. The building was under construction during filming, and the scenes that show it half-finished were filmed exactly as the building was at the time.

6. THE NAKATOMI ARCHITECTS MUST LOVE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT.

The 34th floor of the Nakatomi building, where Holly's company Christmas party is being held, is supposed to be a recreation of the interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

7. JOSEPH TAKAGI HAS A LINK TO PEARL HARBOR.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta) defends his homeland of Japan with a clap back at McClane’s snark by telling him, “Pearl Harbor didn't work out, so we got you with tape decks.” That’s not the only Takagi family connection to December 7, 1941.

“Akagi” is the password that opens the Nakatomi Plaza's bank vault, and was also the name of one of the aircraft carriers that took part in the fateful attack.

8. THE POLICE CHIEF WAS RIGHT ABOUT BRUCE WILLIS'S OTHER JOBS.

Lovable police officer Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) tries to convince Deputy Police Chief Dwayne Robinson (Paul Gleason) that McClane is a cop by referencing his ability to spot a phony ID on the terrorists in the building. But Johnson doesn’t believe him, saying, “He could be a f***ing bartender for all we know!” It’s a funny quip, but also true: Willis used to be a bartender in New York before getting into the acting business.

9. WILLIS SUFFERED PERMANENT HEARING LOSS BECAUSE OF THE FILM.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

McTiernan wanted to give the gunshots in the movie an overly realistic feel, so he had the production rig the blanks to be extra loud. Much to Willis’s detriment, the move cost him parts of his hearing. In the scene where Willis shoots a terrorist through a table, the actor is holding the gun extremely close to his face. The resulting shots caused the actor permanent hearing loss.

In a 2007 interview with The Guardian, Willis recalled the scene, saying, “Due to an accident on the first Die Hard, I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear and have a tendency to say, ‘Whaaa?’"

10. THERE ARE SOME REAL FALLS.

In the scene where McClane makes an epic jump into an elevator shaft, the stunt man was supposed to grab onto the first vent—but missed completely. The resulting footage shows the actor slipping further down the shaft. McTiernan and co-editor Frank Urioste kept it in the final cut because it made the scene more harrowing.

Similar trickery happened during the filming of Gruber’s death scene stunt: McTiernan allegedly told Rickman—who did his own stunt for the scene—that he would be dropped 70-feet on a count of three. But to get a look of real terror on Rickman’s face, McTiernan had him dropped on the count of two, hence Gruber’s memorably terrified look before he plunges to his death.

11. THERE ARE LOTS OF VISIBLE STUNT PEOPLE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Willis attempted to do as many of his own stunts as he could, saying, “I think doing my own stunts whenever possible adds a lot to the production value of the film,” and “John [McTiernan] can get the camera close, because he doesn’t need to disguise the stuntman.” But the production hired as many as 37 stuntmen to pull off McClane’s death defying stunts—and a lot of them are visible. Be on the lookout for Non-Bruce Willises in most fight and explosion scenes.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

12. HANS GRUBER AND HIS GOONS DON’T ACTUALLY SPEAK GERMAN.

Americans might think the German language that Gruber and his goons speak to one another sounds legit, but it’s actually gibberish. The grammar, diction, and pronunciation don’t actually match up. In the German release of the movie, Gruber’s group were described as being from "Europe" instead of Germany.

Weirdly enough Willis was actually born in West Germany to an American father and a German mother.

13. GRUBER’S GOONS ARE CLUMSY.

In the shot where some of Gruber’s men enter Nakatomi Plaza, the terrorist on the left as they walk through a doorway almost runs into the door frame. The camera cuts away before he actually does, but the gaffe doesn’t bode well for Gruber or his men for the rest of the movie.

14. THE TERRORISTS ARE ALSO REDUNDANT.

The rocket launcher Gruber's men use to stop the LAPD’s armored vehicle breaks the same window in two different scenes.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

15. MCCLANE ISN’T ALWAYS BAREFOOT.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

McClane spends much of the movie running through broken glass with bare feet, which must have been terrible for Willis—except it wasn’t. The actor was given a pair of specially made rubber feet as a safety precaution. The fake appendages can be seen in the scene when McClane jumps off the ledge as the FBI shoots at him from the helicopter.

16. NAKATOMI PLAZA STANDS ALONE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The scene where McClane glances out of the window of Nakatomi Plaza to see a woman couldn’t actually happen. Shots of the Nakatomi building in the movie show that there are no buildings close by or buildings of comparable height that close for McClane to see.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

17. THE HO-HO-HO TERRORIST MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When McClane fights and kills the grey-sweatshirt-wearing terrorist and leaves his famous “Now I Have a Machine Gun—Ho, Ho Ho” line written on him for Hans to find, the terrorist might not be as dead as we realized. When Hans goes to move the terrorist’s head, the actor playing him blinks.

18. THE INCREDIBLE DISAPPEARING AND APPEARING AMBULANCE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When Gruber’s terrorists enter the Nakatomi building, they leave out of the Pacific Courier box truck with nothing else inside. Later in the movie, Ellis attempts to carry out their getaway plan by driving an ambulance out of the back of the same truck, even though the extra vehicle—which would be hard to miss—wasn’t there earlier in the movie.

In a behind-the-scenes twist, Gruber’s planned getaway vehicle was actually a last-minute decision on the set, which explains the incongruity.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

19. HOW DID MCCLANE KNOW GRUBER WAS A BAD GUY?

In the scene where McClane unwittingly stumbles on Gruber—who identifies himself as Bill Clay and puts on a convincing American accent—it’s never made 100 percent clear how McClane realizes that Clay isn’t who he says he is. Chalk it up to a NYPD-veteran hunch, or a deleted scene.

Gruber’s watch allegedly tips McClane off before he hands the terrorist an empty gun, but nothing about the watch is introduced in the actual movie. There was supposed to be a scene where Hans Gruber and his team synchronize the exact same watch they all wear, and, according to screenwriter Steven E. De Souza, “When Bruce offers the cigarette to Alan Rickman, Bruce sees the watch. You see his eyes look at the watch. That's how he knows that he is one of the terrorists.”

The timepiece scene was cut, but the audience never really noticed the plot hole.

Jim Henson's Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Is Returning to Theaters

The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events
The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events

For anyone who grew up with HBO in the 1980s, the holiday season meant two things: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and The Bells of Fraggle Rock. Though the beloved Jim Henson classics have been largely confined to home video-only screenings over the years, they’re making their way back to the big screen for the first time via Fathom Events when the Jim Henson Holiday Special arrives in theaters nationwide for a limited, two-day engagement.

More than 600 theaters across the country will host screenings of the Jim Henson Holiday Special on Monday, December 10 (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and Sunday, December 16 (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.), which will pair the two specials—both of which have recently been remastered—alongside an all-new featurette, Memories of the Jug-Band.

"Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas was a favorite project for my dad since it included such sweet characters, Paul Williams’s delightful music, and a timeless holiday message,” Cheryl Henson—Jim Henson’s daughter and president of the Jim Henson Foundation—said in a statement about the special, which is a music-filled twist on The Gift of the Magi.

“Also, the special was a great opportunity for him to experiment with puppetry techniques and effects that would be seen in his later works," Henson continued. "[It] is exciting for families to share this holiday classic along with the special episode The Bells of Fraggle Rock, a rare opportunity to see the Fraggles on the big screen, and to introduce these beloved characters to a whole new audience."

On December 18, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on Blu-ray for the first time ever so that you can make the special a permanent part of your regular holiday movie marathon. This news comes on the heels of Emmet Otter's first-ever official soundtrack release, more than 40 years after its original premiere.

Click here to find out the Jim Henson Holiday Special is playing near you, and to pre-order your tickets today.

10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for 45 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guaraldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s quasi-nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother Linus, however, is a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGGH.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of the holiday. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

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