Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Blood

photo: tf.org
First Blood (also known as Rambo: First Blood or Rambo outside the US) directed by Ted Kotcheff. It was released on October 22, 1982. Based loosely on David Morrell's 1972 novel of the same name, it was the first of the four-film and ongoing Rambo series. First Blood, with a shooting budget of $15 million and a total domestic gross of $47 million,was a moderate financial success, compared to other films released that year. For example, E.T., with a budget of just $10.5 million, brought in nearly $12 million in its opening weekend and went on to gross over $350 million.
First Blood is the Sylvester Stallone film that unleashed "Rambo" onto an unsuspecting world. Wandering into a small, hostile town, ex-Green Beret John Rambo (Stallone) is targeted for persecution and abuse by potbellied Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). When he can stand no more, Rambo goes bonkers, killing a deputy and heading into the surrounding hills, armed to the teeth. Only after Rambo has picked off practically every law enforcement officer within a radius of 50 miles do the local authorities bring in his former commanding officer, Trautman (Richard Crenna), for advice. Trautman's response -- that the locals had better get a lot of body bags ready -- is hardly encouraging. First Blood proved to be one of Stallone's biggest non-Rocky hits. Kirk Douglas had originally been cast as Trautman, but he quit the project when the producers refused to cave in to his demand that Trautman kill Rambo in the finale. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
For the scene where Rambo jumps from the cliff and falls through the trees, Sylvester Stallone opted to do the last part of the stunt himself, much to the concern of director Ted Kotcheff. His concerns were apparently well founded, as the stunt didn't go as planned and Stallone broke three ribs. This apparently took place on camera and the shot is in the movie. The rest of the stunt fall, was performed by Bobby Sargent. Sylvester Stallone accidentally broke the nose of a stuntman during the prison escape scene by elbowing him in the face, which is why he is seen wearing a band-aid throughout the rest of the film. The end of the chase between Rambo (on motorcycle) and Sheriff Teasle, where Teasle's police car rolls off an embankment and flips over upside down, was not scripted in such a way, but when the car ended up in that position, Director Ted Kotcheff liked the result so much, that he continued shooting the scene, and had Brian Dennehy get into the police car while it was still upside down, and filmed the scene as it appears in the movie. Al Pacino, Nick Nolte and Michael Douglas rejected the role of John Rambo.

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