First Blood (also known as Rambo: First Blood) is based on the 1972 novel First Blood by David Morrell. Starring Sylvester Stallone and Brian Dennehy, First Blood celebrates 40 years since being released to theaters.
First Blood tells the story of a troubled and misunderstood Vietnam veteran who must rely on his combat and survival skills when a series of brutal events results in him having to survive a manhunt by police and government troops near the fictional small town of Hope, Washington.
In 1972 Columbia Pictures initially bought the film rights to the novel with filming planned to begin in December of 1972, but due to the director walking away and the Vietnam War still ongoing the project was canceled. Warner Brothers then purchased the rights with the idea of casting De Niro or Eastwood as Rambo, the project stalled once again, and the rights were bought by Carolco Pictures. After the success of Rocky, Stallone was offered the role of Rambo and accepted after reading the script over a weekend. Stallone did an estimated seven rewrites eventually making the character of Rambo more sympathetic.
In the novel Rambo kills many of his pursuers and the script given to Stallone had Rambo killing sixteen, but in the movie, Rambo is not the direct cause of any police or national guardsmen who are killed. It was Stallone who wanted Rambo to survive, unlike in the book.
Academy Award winners Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall were approached for the role of Sheriff Teasle, but both turned down the part. Kirk Douglas was originally cast for the part of Colonel Trautman, but just as shooting was to begin Douglas left the roll over a script dispute. Douglas wanted the novel’s original ending to be kept where Rambo and Teasle fatally wound one another and Trautman finishes Rambo with a kill shot, then sits with the dying Teasle for the sheriff’s final moments.
First Blood was released to theaters on October 22, 1982, and despite initial mixed reviews would go on to be the number one movie at the box office its first three weeks. It would earn $125 million worldwide on a $15 million dollar budget. The success of First Blood would eventually lead to four sequels.
Categories: Movie Anniversaries