I was thrilled and flattered when Simone Chavoor asked me to be a talking head (if that’s the appropriate word) in her nine-part podcast series Die Hard With a Podcast.
There are relatively few things that you can get a majority of film nerds to agree on. Once you get beyond “the Star Wars Special Editions suck,” your views on whatever the hell movie you’re talking about are likely to bring you into conflict with your fellow cinephiles sooner or later. One of the rare exceptions? John McTiernan’s 1988 masterpiece Die Hard. Assuming you’re friendly to the action genre to begin with, it’s impossible to deny its brilliance and influence. It’s a nearly flawless piece of genre cinema, and I suspect that if you forced me to make a “Top 10 Favorite Movies” list it would show up somewhere.
Simone is only at episode two, but she’s already digging deep into what makes this movie tick. It’s a great listen, even beyond the dulcet tones of my voice. Check it out, and we’ll continue to share the episodes as they are released. Here’s the official description.
Die Hard With a Podcast may center around Die Hard, but it explores more than just what happened inside Nakatomi Tower that fateful Christmas Eve. This is a podcast for anyone out there with interest in the film – or even just action films, films from the 1980s, the evolution of the American movie hero, the portrayal of women and minorities in film, film production… Die Hard is at once a product of its time, and the start of a new kind of moviegoing experience.
There’s no better place to start than at the beginning – so, for the first episode of Die Hard With a Podcast, we’re taking a look at the making of Die Hard. For a film with so many incredible stunts and huge explosions, it’s hard to believe it’s based on a book – or is technically a sequel to a 1960s Frank Sinatra flick. On this show, we go from acquiring the rights to the story, crewing up the film, writing the script, casting its stars, and rolling at the Fox Plaza building in Los Angeles. Learn why Die Hard was fully expected to flop, why Bruce Willis’s salary was so controversial, and how exactly they pulled off Hans’s fall from the 30th floor.
Every film is both a product of its environment, and a rebellion against it. Artists (and audiences) search for something new and fresh, but cannot escape the world as it exists around them. Die Hard is no exception. While Die Hard is often marked as a turning point in American action cinema, we must first look at the state of action cinema as it existed before 1988. What does a “typical” 80s action movie look like? What artistic and societal pressures shaped that mold? And in what ways does Die Hard break it?
Stay tuned! As Simone releases new episodes we’ll send them your way, but if you want to ditch the middle man, you can subscribe to the podcast here on iTunes or follow the show via the official website.