Die hard

Commando was retitled Die Hard after Schwarzenegger turned it down

When Schwarzenegger turned down the planned sequal to Commando, it was reworked to star Bruce Willis and was retitled Die Hard.

Nothing Lasts Forever is a 1979 thriller novel by Roderick Thorp, a sequel to his 1966 novel The Detective. It is mostly known through its film adaptation, Die Hard. In December 2012, the book was brought back into print and released as an ebook for the 25th anniversary of the film.

Background

In the year 1975, author Roderick Thorp saw the film The Towering Inferno, which is about a skyscraper that catches on fire. After seeing the film, Thorp fell asleep and had a dream of seeing a man being chased through a skyscraper by men with guns. He woke up and later took that idea and turned it into the The Detective sequel, Nothing Lasts Forever.

Plot

Retired NYPD Detective Joe Leland is visiting the 40-story office headquarters of the Klaxon Oil Corporation in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, where his daughter Stephanie Leland Gennaro works. While he is waiting for his daughter’s Christmas party to end, a group of Cold War-era German terrorists take over the skyscraper. The gang is led by the brutal Anton “Little Tony” Gruber. Joe met Gruber during World War II when Joe was a fighter pilot.

The terrorists plan to steal documents that will publicly expose the Klaxon corporation’s dealings with Chile’s Junta. They also intend to deprive Klaxon of the proceeds of the corrupt deal by dumping $6,000,000 in cash out of the tower’s windows. Leland not only believes their claims, but also that his daughter is involved.

Barefoot, Leland slips away and manages to remain undetected in the gigantic office complex. Aided outside only by LAPD Sergeant Al Powell and armed with only his police-issue Browning Hi-Power pistol, Leland fights off the terrorists one by one in an attempt to save the 74 hostages, including his daughter and grandchildren.

Die Hard film adaptation

Nothing Lasts Forever was originally written as a sequel to The Detective so it could be made into a follow-up film starring Frank Sinatra as Joe Leland. But when Frank Sinatra declined the role, it was then changed into a sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando, but when Schwarzenegger turned down the role, the script was retooled in 1988 for the standalone story, Die Hard, which would later become one of the most famous and beloved action films of all time.

The film follows its source material closely. Some of its memorable scenes, characters, and dialogue are taken directly from the novel. The story was altered to be a stand-alone film with no connections to Thorp’s novel The Detective. Other changes included the older hero of the novel becoming younger, his name changed from Joe Leland to John McClane, his daughter becoming his wife (maiden name “Gennero,” different from the book’s spelling of “Gennaro”), and the American Klaxon Oil Corporation becoming the Japanese Nakatomi Corporation. The “terrorists” are actually professional thieves that are after $640 million in negotiable bearer bonds the building’s vault and are posing as terrorists to draw attention away from the robbery. In the film, they are also not only German, but of varying ethnicities, although most remain European. The tone of the novel is far darker with underlying themes of guilt, alcoholism and the complexity of the disturbed human mind. The novel also features female terrorists. The ending of the story is also different from the big screen adaptation in the sense that it ends much less positively than the happy ending portrayed in the movie, hinting that Joe could possibly succumb to his wounds and die.

As different as the two works are, they are still very similar. Some of the most famous action sequences from the film are taken from the book, like:

McClane jumping off an exploding roof with a fire hose attached to his waist and then shooting through a window to gain re-entry.

Dropping a C-4 bomb down an elevator shaft.

McClane taping his gun to his back at the climax.

McClane crawling through elevator shafts.

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