Quick Hits: July 15

Content warning: this post contains a reference to suicide.

  • Die Hard, one of the most perfect movies ever made, was released on this day in 1988. Based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, Die Hard made Bruce Willis a superstar and ushered in a new era of action heroes – flawed, vulnerable, human. Alan Rickman, making his film debut, chews the perfect amount of scenery as terrorist Hans Gruber. Box office expectations were low for the film – Willis was not yet a bankable star and 20th Century Fox featured the 40-story skyscraper as prominently as Willis’ face in the marketing campaign – but it ended up earning $140 million. It was also nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing.
Alan Rickman’s delivery of the line “Now I have a machine gun…ho ho ho” is absolute perfection.
  • Stranger Things debuted on Netflix on July 15, 2016. The Duffer Brothers asked the question, “What if Steven Spielberg directed a Stephen King movie?” and the initial answer was…Montauk. The Long Island city had been the stand-in for Amity Island when Jaws was filmed, and the brothers thought it was a nice tribute to Spielberg to set their series there. Eventually they opted to create a fictional town instead, and when Hawkins, Indiana was born, the show had to be renamed.
  • Happy birthday to the incomparable Terry O’Quinn.
  • Happy birthday as well to Lana Parilla, co-star of several series, including Spin City, Once Upon a Time (where she brilliantly played The Evil Queen and her real-world counterpart, Regina Mills) and two personal favorites of mine, Boomtown and Swingtown.
  • Ian Curtis was born on this day in 1956. Lead singer and songwriter for post-punk band Joy Division, Curtis had a history of substance abuse and depression, and in 1978 he was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Curtis always seemed haunted, and his lyrics matched his mood, with titles like “Disorder”, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Isolation”. On May 18, 1980, on the eve of Joy Division’s first North American tour, Curtis hung himself with a piece of clothes line; he was just 23 years old. Two months later, Joy Division’s second and final album, Closer, was released. The remaining members of Joy Division disbanded and reformed as New Order.
  • On this date in 1972, Honky Château became Elton John’s first of seven consecutive #1 albums in the US. While not John’s finest album (that’d be Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), Honky Château is an infectious romp and it contains my all-time favorite Elton song, “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”.

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