Movies You Missed: 'Die Hard'

Dec 23, 2017
Originally published on December 23, 2017 7:43 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's Christmas Eve eve and our last Movies You Missed of the Christmas season. Which holiday staple - if not outright classic - to force people to watch because they missed it? Should we go way back?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHITE CHRISTMAS")

BING CROSBY: (As Bob Wallace, singing) I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

SIMON: Or maybe something funny

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SANTA CLAUSE")

MELISSA KING: (As Sarah the Little Girl) Santa?

TIM ALLEN: (As Scott Calvin) Scott Calvin.

KING: (As Sarah the Little Girl) How come your clothes are so baggy?

ALLEN: (As Scott Calvin) Because Santa is watching his saturated fats.

SIMON: Maybe a movie that invokes the Christmas spirit...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS")

PETER ROBBINS: (As Charlie Brown) Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

SIMON: ...And teaches the true meaning of the season.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS")

BORIS KARLOFF: (As Narrator) Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas - perhaps - means a little bit more.

SIMON: Oh, what about this perennial?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DIE HARD")

SIMON: Just hear those sleigh bells ring-a-ling, ring, ding, ring-ting-tingling -

SIMON: "Die Hard," the 1988 action film starring Bruce Willis as an off-duty New York police officer caught in an LA skyscraper during a terrorist heist and hostage-taking. Alan Rickman also stars as Hans Gruber, a German terrorist with a terrorizingly bad British accent (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DIE HARD")

ALAN RICKMAN: (As Hans Gruber) Ho, ho, ho.

SIMON: Kelly Wilson and Laura Mullaney are two friends from San Francisco who had never seen the film. They join us now. Thank you both very much for being with us.

KELLY WILSON: Thank you.

LAURA MULLANEY: Hi, there.

SIMON: Firstly - all right, let's put our toe in that big debate. Is "Die Hard" actually a Christmas movie? Kelly Wilson, what do you think?

WILSON: So I was torn on this, so I did an Instagram poll. And two thirds of my friends say that, absolutely, it is.

SIMON: Laura Mullaney?

MULLANEY: Well, I think that any movie that has that much of Christmas in it as a theme - and you can see Christmas lights and trees all over the place in that movie because, as you know, it takes place during a Christmas party.

SIMON: All right, I'm a sentimental guy. I like a little more gingerbread and carols in my Christmas movies and not so many F-bombs and regular bombs. Is there a Christmas message?

WILSON: I would say I think it's about family and being with those you love.

SIMON: And killing a lot of people to get there (laughter).

WILSON: Well, you know, sometimes you got to do what you got to do.

SIMON: Oh, my word. Now as I understand it - if I might pick up a parenthetical here - Laura Mullaney, I understand there a lot of films you haven't seen. Right?

MULLANEY: I believe the running tally right now, which is not wholly complete yet, is 158. We're keeping a spreadsheet.

SIMON: How did you wind up not seeing so many movies that everybody else knows?

MULLANEY: Oh, I think I just came from a very conservative background. And I'm one of eight children. And I think my parents toed a hard line as far as morality was concerned. You know, anything with expletives in it or any sort of thing like that was off limits. Or anything with children behaving badly was also off limits.

SIMON: That's kind of the waterfront when it comes to American cinema, isn't it?

MULLANEY: (Laughter) Pretty much.

SIMON: Expletives, violence and children behaving badly.

MULLANEY: I feel like there's so much of the decade of the '80s and '90s that I missed.

SIMON: And you would count this film as worth catching up with?

MULLANEY: I would. I mean, I think there's something to be said for a holiday movie that's not just the cookie-cutter, good, moral message focused all around Christmas. I mean, it's still something that kind of gets you in the Christmas mood with all of the background images of Christmas. But it doesn't give you that saccharine sweet Christmas message that a lot of other Christmas movies do. And I think I appreciate that.

SIMON: One of my favorite lines is when Hans Gruber says, you Americans are all alike.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DIE HARD")

RICKMAN: (As Hans Gruber) All alike. Well, this time, John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.

SIMON: And John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, says that's Gary Cooper. I can't finish the last.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DIE HARD")

RICKMAN: (As Hans Gruber) Enough jokes.

BRUCE WILLIS: (As John McClane) You'd have made a pretty good cowboy yourself, Hans.

SIMON: That's pretty witty. Isn't it?

MULLANEY: I would agree.

WILSON: It is. Yeah, I think, you know, this was Bruce Willis straight off "Moonlighting" - right? - all that witty banter.

MULLANEY: Yeah. Bruce Wilson's quips are definitely one of the funnest (ph) parts of the movie.

SIMON: Is this a movie for the whole family? I can't believe I'm asking this...

MULLANEY: No.

SIMON: ...With a straight face. Yes, go ahead, please.

MULLANEY: No. My favorite line, I'm not even sure I can say on NPR.

SIMON: Well, you can say it and we can take care of it later. Is it yippee - or go ahead. Yes? What?

MULLANEY: Yippee-ki-yay, [expletive], yes.

SIMON: Yeah, that's the line. I'm trying to remember if it was Kelly Wilson or Laura Mullaney who said it's - the movie is about family.

WILSON: That was Kelly.

SIMON: Well, then, Kelly, how so?

WILSON: I think, you know, he's coming back to his family. And he's so excited to be there with them. And you see the connection between him and his wife.

SIMON: Played by Bonnie Bedelia, yes.

WILSON: Yeah. She did a great job. And I think it's about remembering what's important this time of year.

SIMON: Which is, don't get taken hostage? What (laughter)?

WILSON: Right. Avoid the holiday Christmas party?

MULLANEY: How about wear shoes? I think it's Alan Rickman's character about that shoots all the glass out. And it's all the ground, and he has to walk across it in bare feet. That was a brutal scene.

SIMON: Yeah.

MULLANEY: So I think the biggest message is always wear shoes.

SIMON: (Laughter) You know, you guys have me all misty-eyed now.

Kelly Wilson joined us from KLCC in Eugene, Ore. Laura Mullaney in San Francisco. Happy holidays to all of you. Oh - won't add a Bruce Willis expletive on the end.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: But yippee-yi-yo ki-yay to you both.

WILSON: Thanks, Scott. Same to you.

MULLANEY: Yippee-yi-yo ki-yay to you, too. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.