Friday, November 29, 2013

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Roger Murtaugh: Have you ever met anybody you didn't kill?
Martin Riggs: Well, I haven't killed you yet.
Two cops.  Glover carries a weapon.  Gibson is one.  He's the only L.A. cop registered as a Lethal Weapon.
It was on March 6, 1987 that "Lethal Weapon" made its premiere to more than 1,250 screens across the United States.  Its competition that weekend were the films "Tin Men" starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito and "Angel Heart" starring Mickey Rourke and Robert DeNiro.  Costing an estimated $15 million to make, "Lethal Weapon" pulled far ahead of the other two films and earned over $65.2 million that year, making it Warner Brothers' biggest hit of the year as well as the 9th top grossing film of 1987.
Directed by Richard Donner, "Lethal Weapon" was nominated for very few awards, most notably an Oscar for Best Sound (of which it didn't win).  However, the film's screenplay was the first for writer Shane Black. 
The first of 4 films, "Lethal Weapon" starred Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs, Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh, and co-starred Gary Busey as Joshua, Mitch Ryan as The General, and Tom Atkins as Michael Hunsaker.
Filmed in various locations throughout California (I disclose actual addresses for some of them below), here are some other bits of information regarding the action-packed and often hilarious "Lethal Weapon"...
1.  Leonard Nimoy (yes, the guy who played the role of Spock on "Star Trek") was one of the choices considered for directing, but he didn't feel comfortable doing action movies.  Besides, he was working on "3 Men and a Baby" at the time ("3 Men and a Baby" went on to be the highest grossing film of 1987).
2.  According to a June 2007 Vanity Fair article, Bruce Willis was considered for the Riggs role.
3.  Danny Glover's character (Sergeant Roger Murtaugh) is 50 years old in the movie, but Glover was only 40 years old during filming.
4.  On the television show, "E! True Hollywood Story", Gary Busey says he was hired to play Joshua because they were looking for someone big and menacing enough to be a believable foe for Mel Gibson.  Busey also credits the film for reviving his failing movie career.
5.  Jackie Swanson (who played the girl who jumped to her death at the beginning of the film) did perform the high fall on her own.  Trained by legendary stuntman Dar Robinson.  Also, the stunt was done using an airbag covered with a life-size painting of the driveway and cars, which, like a foreground miniature, visually blends into the real scene.  Thus, the editor is able to hold the shot until just as she makes contact with the airbag, for greater realism.  This was Jackie Swanson's film debut.
6.  The first movie to feature a cellphone.  It can be seen when Murtaugh calls his wife to tell her of Amanda Hunsaker's death, and then later when Murtaugh calls Dr. Stephanie Woods to talk about Riggs' insanity.
7.  After seeing Mel Gibson's suicide contemplation scene in the film, Franco Zeffirelli reportedly decided to offer Mel Gibson the role of "Hamlet" in the film version of the same name.  Mel accepted.
8.  Hollywood city officials hung Christmas decorations on Hollywood Blvd. a few months early so that the scenes shot for this film, particularly the action scenes near the end of the picture, looked like they happened at the end of the year.
9.  Riggs's firearm is a Beretta 92F, meanwhile Murtaugh's gun is a classic Smith & Wesson model 19.
10.  Murtaugh tells Riggs that Hunsaker saved his life in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965.  Interestingly enough, Mel Gibson would later play Col. Hal Moore in the film  "We Were Soldiers" (2002) which is an adaptation of that battle.
11.  After shooting Riggs, Joshua calls the police pretending to be a journalist from a radio station called "KCOP" to confirm Riggs' death.  "KCOP" is an abbreviation of "killer cop", referring accurately to the attempt of Riggs' assassination.  *KCOP is the call letters for an actual local channel in Los Angeles (Ch. 13 KCOP).  They changed the name to the UPN after this film was made, but the actual station is still KCOP-13, just like KTTV-11, KTLA-5.  There is no factual basis from any proven source that this trivia is what the film makers intended.
12.  Some actual filming locations in California included: International Tower - 700 E. Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach (where the woman falls to her death from round tower), 4251 111th Street, Lennox (Dixie's House), Emser Rugs & Tile - 8431 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood (Martin Riggs jumps from building with suicide attempter), 2817 Via Segovia, Palos Verdes Peninsula(Michael Hunsaker's House), and Ritz Theater - 6652 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles (the bad guys' nightclub where Riggs is tortured).  The Ritz Theater is closed.
13.  The only film in the Lethal Weapon series (as of today's date) where Riggs' shoulder is not dislocated.
And now you know.
Sadly, legendary stuntman Dar Robinson was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after the principal photography of "Lethal Weapon" was finished.  It was to him that director Richard Donner dedicated this film.
Please enjoy these picture stills of the key characters as well as additional picture stills of the film, "Lethal Weapon"...

And now some scenes from the film...






Martin Riggs: You don't trust me at all, do you?
Roger Murtaugh: Well, I'll tell you what. You make it through tomorrow without killing anybody, especially me, or yourself, then I'll start trusting you.
Martin Riggs: Fair enough.