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Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?

You may or may not be aware that every Christmas season, a big debate rages on about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. I’ve seen so much about this topic lately. Just last week I saw a clip on the Today Show where they replayed a segment of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Jimmy Fallon asked Former President Obama if he thought Die Hard was a Christmas movie and here’s what he said. “No. It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas movie. Charlie Brown Christmas is a Christmas movie. Die Hard is an action flick that happens to involve tangentially Christmas.” All through the clip, Jimmy Fallon was agreeing with him.  

In a December 3, 2020 Tweet from Natalie Andrews, a congress reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she said that House Democrats voted on their favorite Christmas movie, as a practice vote before virtual leadership elections.  The choices laid out before them were: Love Actually, Polar Express, Home Alone, Die Hard, and Miracle on 34th Street  The Winner of the vote was: Miracle on 34th Street.  A Cinemablend article alludes to the fact that by the very inclusion of Die Hard in their choices, they are saying it is a Christmas movie.

The debate rages on each year. In 2020 when we need a little break from all the seriousness of what’s going on, the Die Hard question definitely lightens the mood.  

To help me answer the question, I first watched the movie and then I turned to Movie Talk, a Facebook group that I’m part of and I asked them the question.  Over 400 people replied to the post and the majority of the replies said that it is indeed a Christmas movie.  Here’s a few of the comments that people left.  One person said “If a film is set at Christmas time then it’s a Christmas movie in my book.”  Someone else said “This is the post that never ends on Facebook. The answer is yes for all time.”  One person said, “Absolutely. Home Alone is a heist movie that takes place at Christmas time and people call it a Christmas classic. Die Hard is a heist movie that takes place at Christmas time, it is also a Christmas classic.”  That’s a well thought out defense!   Then there was someone that said “That’s a big fat no!”  And “No. Anyone who thinks so is wrong.”  So what do you think? Is Die Hard a movie you turn to during the Christmas season?

In this week’s episode of Trivia Rewind, I dive into the movie and the big question.  I will ask you ten trivia questions about Die Hard and then I’ll give you the answers and some fun facts about the movie, its stars and what people say about Die Hard being a Christmas movie.

In the episode, I mention a website I recently came across with the best data regarding the Die Hard vs. Christmas controversy. Stephen Follows, an established data researcher in the film industry did a whole write up titled Using data to determine if Die Hard is a Christmas movie. All his stats will blow your mind.  After going through his fact based research, you may need to re-evaluate your opinion on whether or not you think Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

Below, you will find the transcript for this episode. You can listen to Trivia Rewind on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Please tell a friend, leave a positive review and 5 star rating if you like Trivia Rewind. Thank you for listening and supporting Trivia Rewind! 

The background Christmas Music heard on the episode is by JuliusH from Pixabay

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Here is the transcript. Spoiler alert! Unless you’ve already listened to the episode, don’t look below because you’ll find the answers.

Trivia Rewind Episode 27 – Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?

[00:00:00] Trivia Rewind.

[00:00:04] Debi Jenkins : [00:00:04] Hey there, movie fans, I’m Debi Jenkins, host of Trivia Rewind. You may or may not be aware that every Christmas season a big debate rages on about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. I’ve seen so much about this topic lately. Just today, I saw a clip on The Today Show where they replayed a segment of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon asked president Obama if he thought Die Hard was a Christmas movie and here’s what he said. “No. It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas movie. Charlie Brown Christmas is a Christmas movie. Die Hard is an action flick that happens to involve tangentially Christmas.” All through the clip, Jimmy Fallon is agreeing with him. In a December 3rd, 2020 tweet from Natalie Andrews, a congress reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she said that house Democrats voted on their favorite Christmas movie as a [00:01:00] practice vote before virtual leadership elections. The choices laid out before them were Love Actually,  Polar Express,  Home Alone, Die Hard and Miracle on 34th Street. The winner of the vote was Miracle on 34th Street. A Cinemablend article alludes to the fact that by their very inclusion of Die Hard in their choices, they are saying it’s a Christmas movie. The debate rages on each year. In 2020, when we need a little break from all the seriousness of what’s going on, the Die Hard question definitely lightens the mood.

[00:01:34] To help me answer the question, I first watched the movie and then I turned to Movie Talk, a Facebook group that I’m part of and I asked them the very question. Over 400 people replied to the post and the majority of the replies said that yes, it is indeed a Christmas movie.

[00:01:53] Here’s a few of the comments that people left. One person said, “If a film is set at Christmas [00:02:00] time, then it’s a Christmas movie in my book.” Someone else said, “This is the post that never ends on Facebook. The answer is yes for all time.” One person said, “Absolutely. Home Alone is a heist movie that takes place at Christmas time and people call it a Christmas classic. Die Hard is a heist movie that takes place at Christmas time. It is also a Christmas classic.” That’s a well thought out defense. Then there was someone that said, “That’s a big fat no” and “No. Anyone who thinks so is wrong.” So what do you think? Is Die Hard a Christmas movie that you turn to during the Christmas season?

[00:02:42] In this week’s episode of Trivia Rewind we’re going to dive into the movie and the big question. I’m going to ask you ten trivia questions about Die Hard and then I’ll give you the answers and some fun facts about the movie, its stars and what people say about Die [00:03:00] Hard being a Christmas movie. So are you ready?

[00:03:03] Here’s question one. When John McClain arrives at the airport on Christmas Eve, what is the name of the man that picks him up in the limousine?

[00:03:15] Question two. What Christmas gift does John bring on the airplane with him?

[00:03:23] Question three. What does John McClain write on his arm?

[00:03:30] Question four. What is the name of the building where the hostage situation takes place?

[00:03:38] Question five. What does police officer Sergeant Al Powell buy at the convenience store?

[00:03:47] Question six. What message does John write in blood on the dead terrorists shirt?

[00:03:57] Question seven. On what [00:04:00] floor of the skyscraper is the Christmas party taking place?

[00:04:05] Question eight. What is the name of the head terrorist played by actor Alan Rickman?

[00:04:14] Question nine. What kind of shoes does John wear for most of the movie?

[00:04:21] And question 10. What Christmas song is playing as Argyle, John and Holly drive off in the limo at the end of the movie?

[00:04:33] Well, those are our 10 questions, let’s go back and get the answers and fun facts. Question one. When John McClain arrives at the airport on Christmas Eve, what is the name of the man that picks him up in the limousine? Well, that limo driver’s name is Argyle. Bruce Willis is the star of the movie and plays character John McClain, an NYPD detective [00:05:00] that travels to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to see his family and hopefully reconcile with his wife. The character Argyle is played by actor De’voreaux White. The movie is based on a 1979 crime novel titled, “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp.

[00:05:18] In a Nobelmania.com article De’voreaux White was asked how he got the role. He says, “Places in the Heart with Danny Glover and Sally Fields, which I was featured in had received huge accolades for Oscars the year before. My agent pitched me to Joel Silver and Bruce Willis. They agreed to take on a meeting and a reading with me. By the time I got home that day, they called and offered me the role.”  A lot of big stars were considered for the role of John McClain. Some names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert DeNiro turned down the role. At the time, Bruce Willis was known for his comedic role on the [00:06:00] television series Moonlighting. The filmmakers of Die Hard had to do some work-arounds with his Moonlighting schedule. He’d often work on the Moonlighting set during the day and then he’d head over to the Die Hard set at night. Bruce Willis was paid $5 million for his role in Die Hard. At the time, this was considered huge.

[00:06:20] So does Bruce Willis think Die Hard is a Christmas movie? Well at a Comedy Central roast in 2018, Bruce Willis is quoted as saying,  “Die Hard is not a Christmas movie.” People heard that line and you’ll see people quoting it all over the internet. Oh, but wait. Some of the news media as usual, didn’t include the entire quote.  Bruce Willis finishes his statement that night by saying that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie because it’s a Bruce Willis movie. That last line is pretty important when answering the big question [00:07:00] about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. In December of 2019, the Hollywood Reporter took a poll and here’s their results: 61% said that no, Die Hard was not a Christmas movie while 39% said yes. Around 12,000 people voted in the poll. Last time I looked you can still vote so the numbers can definitely change over time. Visit triviarewind.com where I’ll post a link to the article that includes the poll so that you can go and vote. So for the people in the no camp, there’s some evidence for your side.

[00:07:40] Question two. What Christmas gift does John bring on the airplane with him? He brings a big teddy bear. John was heading to Los Angeles to visit his estranged wife Holly. Actress Bonnie Bedelia plays the role of Holly. She was born with the name, Bonnie [00:08:00] Bedelia Culkin. Her brother is Kit Culkin, the father of actor Macaulay Culkin, who played Kevin in the Christmas movie Home Alone. Hmm. Do Christmas movies run in the family? You know, Home Alone was about a heist on Christmas Eve, too. Just something to think about. In a November, 2020 Entertainment, Weekly article titled “Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie, the Ultimate EW Investigation,” the article says,  “Within Die Hard’s first ten minutes, the Christmas Eve setting is established and John McClain is jamming to Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” on the way to a holiday party. The article does however mention that both Bonnie Bedelia and Reginald VelJohnson said when they were filming the movie, they never viewed it as a Christmas movie during the production.

[00:08:52] They asked Bonnie Bedelia what her opinion on the matter is. She is quoted as saying, “It’s quite wonderful that this is [00:09:00] still being debated 30 years on” she remarks, “But the people have spoken and it’s their movie now.”

[00:09:08] Question three. What does John McClain write on his arm? He writes the names of the terrorists. Speaking of writing Steven E. de Souza, one of the  screenwriters for Die Hard, he shares his take on whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas  movie. A 2017 Vulture article says, “The movie is set at Christmas but it was released in July like a proper blockbuster. So does it get to live in the holiday cannon alongside White Christmas, Scrooged and Elf? According to Die Hard  screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, yes, it definitely does.” The article even shared screenshots of tweets between de Souza and CNN anchor Jake Tapper, where de Souza stands firm on his position that Die Hard is indeed a Christmas [00:10:00] movie.

[00:10:01] Question four. What is the name of the building where the hostage situation takes place? That building was the Nakatomi Tower. The filming took place at Fox Plaza in Century City, California. This is the corporate headquarters of 20th Century Fox. This was the perfect place to film the movie because the building was still under construction therefore they wouldn’t have a lot of people they had to deal with. In a Slashfilm.com article the cinematographer of Die Hard, Jan de Bont says that they really did use explosives and even blew out the windows of one of the floors of the buildings. When asked if the explosions were real or shot on miniature models, the article quotes him as saying, “The only one that’s shot on a miniature is the very top of the building. Obviously we couldn’t blow up the top of the building, but many other explosions in the building are actually real [00:11:00] explosions.” Due to some of the loud explosions and what Bruce Willis calls an accident on set, he has partial hearing loss in his left ear.

[00:11:11] Question five. What does police officer Sergeant Al Powell buy at the convenience store? He buys several Twinkies for his pregnant wife. Sergeant Al Powell is played by actor Reginald, VelJohnson. This wasn’t the only time VelJohnson would play a police officer. He played one in the television sitcom Family Matters. His role as Sergeant Al Powell in Die Hard was his first major film role. In a Forbes magazine article, the interviewer asks him what his go-to Christmas movie is. VelJohnson replies, “Die Hard. We didn’t realize it was a Christmas movie until we’d made it and people started demanding that it was a Christmas movie. It was only [00:12:00] really then that I realized that it was a Christmas movie because it has the snow, the Christmas songs, it’s set at Christmas at a Christmas party and then there are other things. If they showed it every Christmas, that would be fine by me.” Well, there you go. Reginald VelJohnson does see Die Hard as a Christmas movie. Add that one to the yes column.

[00:12:25] Question six. What message does John write in blood on the dead terrorists shirt? That message was “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.” So for the people that don’t think Die Hard is a Christmas movie, this scene is an exhibit to prove the side for those that believe it’s a Christmas movie. The dead terrorist is wearing a Santa hat and the words ho, ho, ho are written in blood on his shirt. The ho ho, ho, and the Santa hat further solidify [00:13:00] that it’s a Christmas themed movie. You can even buy Christmas sweaters with these very words on them.

[00:13:06] Question seven. On what floor of the skyscraper is the Christmas party taking place? The party was taking place on the 30th floor. So how does a Die Hard themed Christmas party sound to you? Thanks to Pinterest and Etsy you can plan that very event. I’m not sure what your boss would say, but it would definitely be an unforgettable party that’s for sure.

[00:13:36] Question eight. What is the name of the head terrorist played by actor Alan Rickman? Well, that villain was named Hans Gruber. This was Alan Rickman’s first role in a film.  Prior to Die Hard he was a stage actor in London. In The American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Heroes and Villains [00:14:00] list, Rickman’s character Hans Gruber is listed as the 46th best villain in film history. Another villain he’s notable for playing as the character Snape in the Harry Potter films. In 2016, cancer took the life of 69 year old Alan Rickman.

[00:14:20] Question nine. What kind of shoes does John wear for most of the movie? Well, that’s a trick question. He doesn’t wear any shoes for most of the movie. According to Internet Movie database, “When John McClain runs through the glass shards in his bare feet, Bruce Willis is wearing special rubber shoes designed to look like his own bare feet. One can see this if looking closely, as his feet appear quite unnaturally large in some of these crucial barefoot scenes.”

[00:14:54] There definitely weren’t a lot of costume changes for Bruce Willis in this film. Willis wore [00:15:00] a white undershirt tank top for most of the film. The costume department had 17 undershirts that they used. Obviously they had to rank them in order from white at the beginning of the movie to dirty and bloody by the end of the movie.

[00:15:15] And question 10. What Christmas song is playing as Argyle, John and Holly drive off in the limo at the end of the movie? Well that song was “Let it Snow.” In addition to the Christmas song, “Let it Snow,” another song in the movie had a defining moment. Run-D.M.C.’s single “Christmas in Hollis” was played in the movie. This song was included on two of Run-D.M.C.’s Christmas albums. In a Billboard.com article, Billboard talks with the group and says, “The other thing that definitely keeps “Christmas in Hollis” such an enduring holiday classic as that it’s featured in Die Hard, which has become this [00:16:00] unofficial Christmas tradition for action film fans. What was your reaction to hearing Argyle cranking up the song in the limo for John McClain?” Run-D.M.C replies, “Man, I had no idea back then because I hadn’t seen the movie when it first came out in theaters. But I remember that opening weekend. Remember pagers? Well, my pager was blowing up with people ringing it off the hook and when I finally got to a payphone to find out what was going on, someone told me, yo, your records in Die Hard. A lot of people were introduced to the record because of that movie.” Well, there’s one more piece of evidence for fans that say this is a Christmas movie.

[00:16:42] If you really want to take a deep dive into the data behind this big question, I found the perfect place for you. Stephen Follows an established data researcher in the film industry, he did a whole write-up titled “Using Data to Determine if Die Hard is a Christmas Movie.” [00:17:00] All his stats will blow your mind. After going through his fact-based research, you may need to reevaluate your opinion on whether or not you think Die Hard is a Christmas movie. I’m going to post a link to his website on triviarewind.com.

[00:17:17] Well, that’s it for this week’s episode. I’m not sure if you changed your mind one way or the other about this yearly Christmas movie question. Come share your thoughts on our Instagram or Twitter pages. Please subscribe and leave a positive review wherever you listen to podcasts. All the links mentioned in this episode can be found at triviarewind.com. Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next time for more Trivia Rewind. [00:18:00] .

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