- First Blood movie directed by Ted Kotcheff in 1982
- Starring Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy
Why the Backstory of First Blood Movie is Interesting
Like Predator, the First Blood deserves more recognition. But it’s not only a great action movie because it acknowledges the social and psychological consequences of the Vietnam war. We all know the story. John Rambo is an ex-Green Beret, drifting alongside the roads of rural USA. When the local sheriff tries to deter and beat Rambo out of town, Rambo unleashes sweet revenge as he fight back – guerilla style.
After the publication of David Morrell’s novel First Blood in 1972, Columbia Pictures bought the First Blood movie rights. Richard Brooks was originally set to direct until he read the script and decided that he didn’t like it. So Warner Brother acquired the rights from Columbia Pictures.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
There are many actors who were considered for the role of Rambo including: Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, John Travolta, and Steve McQueen. Not surprisingly, pre-production was a mess.
Until one day when Orion Pictures purchased the rights from Warner Brothers. Ted Kotcheff entered pre-production in 1976 and immediately offered the role of Rambo to Sylvester Stallone. A notable writer and director Jim Hemphill interviews Kotcheff, who describes why Stallone was perfect for the role:
“I don’t give a damn what the perceived wisdom is, he’s [Stallone] perfect for the part. He’s tough, but he’s also empathetic and capable of great sensitivity. I can’t see anybody else playing that part.” (Film Maker Magazine/ Jim Hemphill).
For the complete interview between Kotcheff and Hemphill (Jun 7, 2016) about that First Blood movie, check out this link: filmmakermagazine.com
Sylvester: writer and actor
As an accomplished writer (thanks to his success of Rocky), he was responsible for adding several pivotal scenes and developing key character traits. Sylvester recommended that Rambo shouldn’t speak very much. So when Rambo finally speaks, lines like “they drew first blood, not me” would have more impact and weight.
As well, they changed the ending. Instead of Rambo committing suicide like the source material, Rambo allowed himself to be apprehended by authorities. As one might expect, there was a lot of opposition to this decision. Kotcheff said:
I [Kotcheff] was getting it set up and the producers rushed over to me: Kotcheff, what the fuck are you doing? I said, I’m shooting an alternate ending. An alternate ending? We agreed on the ending. It’s a suicide mission. You’re over budget and over schedule, you don’t have the money to do two endings. I said, I don’t take shit from producers. Get off my set. I’m going to get the shot. It’s only going to take me two hours. (Film Maker Magazine/ Jim Hemphill).
If you found this interesting — click to check out the interesting backstory of Predator