John McClane’s Origin Story: Understanding "Die Hard" as Film Adaptation of Roderick Thorp’s "Nothing Lasts Forever"

By Andrea Lohf.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 20, 2017 $US5.00

An alienated New York City cop fights against a German terrorist group—this is the plot of “Die Hard,” which has become a classic film within American action cinema, inspiring four additional films since its debut in 1989 and launching the career of the late Alan Rickman, who captivated audiences as the villainous Hans Gruber. What many viewers do not know, however, is that “Die Hard” is an adaptation of the 1979 novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp. This novel, in turn, is the sequel to the 1966 novel “The Detective.” Genre abounds in “Nothing Lasts Forever”—detective, suspense, noir, and neo-noir—and this genre-mixed origin should weigh heavily in critical consideration of “Die Hard.” Scholars frequently view the film from lenses of race and of gender. This article utilizes genre as a lens to complement and contradict previous scholarship of “Die Hard” and advocate for a new approach to adaptation studies.

Keywords: Film, Adaptation, Genre Study, "Die Hard"

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 15, Issue 2, June 2017, pp.15-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 20, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 598.378KB)).

Andrea Lohf

MA Student in British and American Literature, Department of English, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA