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Revisiting Rambo : First Blood


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#1 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 11:41 AM

So while channel grazing on a sick day, the only thing that looked even remotely interesting was titled "First Blood".

 

If I had seen the full movie before, it had been so long ago I couldn't remember it.

 

With some hesitation, and the help of some rather heavy cold medications, I allowed myself to be pulled into it. 

 

Even then, I was ready to switch it at anytime with the remote.

 

My most recent memory of any Rambo movie was mostly bad.  Most notably was the scene where he dueled with a heavily armed Russian Hind gunship with a UH-1, and finally settled the issue by firing a LAW at his adversary, without suffering any effects from the backblast.  Feasible?  Not really.

 

But as is often the case with movie franchises, the first movie was actually not half bad.   Apparently from a scan of the internet, I am not the only one who has concluded the same.

 

 

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#2 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 11:54 AM

To put some context here, the film was released in October 1982.  Barely three weeks later the Vietnam Memorial was opened in Washington, DC.

 

For the last half of the 1970's, Americans did not know what to make of their Vietnam veterans.  It took a long time for the public in general to accept that the soldiers who fought that war were not the ones who started it, or who kept it going. 

 

Vietnam veterans themselves were struggling to find a voice, and to understand what they had been through and been a part of.

 

One of the basic themes of the movie is the rejection by the establishment, represented by the police and townspeople, of a war hero, mostly based on the length of his hair.

 

While this may seem implausible to the modern viewer, I can recall many a story of Vietnam veterans being rejected by the WWII generation at the local VFW for their shaggy looks and their participation in a war that did not have a total, final victory. 

 

The movie was symbolic of America's disbelief and disowning of the stories that the Vietnam veterans told.

 

Even when the police become aware of Rambo's highly decorated past in service to the country they swear they love, they still treat him as an animal to be hunted.

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#3 edstorey

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 11:59 AM

Did you know that the motion picture was filmed in Canada - Hope, British Columbia to be exact.



#4 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:03 PM

After begging to be left alone, being arrested for vagrancy, bullied and beaten, the quiet hero snaps and fights his way out of police custody and into the woods.

 

A bit far fetched?  Perhaps.  But not completely impossible either.

 

About the only thing the police succeed in doing is providing arms for our hero, who after being down trodden is suddenly turning the tables on them.

 

After further eluding the police in the woods, the local National Guard takes a crack at him.  Although they succeed in hunting him down and putting him out of action, it is more out of ineptitude than skill.  This seems to be a swipe at those who rode their service time in the Guard rather than serving in the war.

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#5 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:12 PM

Richard Crenna turns in a capable performance as Col. Trautman, the only person who can bring Rambo out of his rampage.

 

(One website claims that this is Crenna's most memorable role;  I think I would give that to his role in the Sand Pebbles myself.)

 

I thought Crenna actually under played the role a bit.  For someone who supposedly turned men into killing machines, he was a bit soft spoken.  But perhaps that was an intended irony.   That the deadly business of the military is not conducted by people who run around shouting and waiving their hands in the air, but rather quiet professionals.

 

If anything strains belief in this movie, to me, it is that Rambo would give away his well hidden position in the woods to engage in a monitored radio conversation with his former commander.  But the theory of the character is that Rambo has become isolated because there is no one left alive that understands what he went through.  In a way, this was a screen reference to the Vietnam vets who felt a similar isolation when they came home.  Eventually this hopefully changed for most of them.

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#6 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:21 PM

Brian Dennehy also does a convincing portrayal of the small town sheriff, the big fish in a little pond. He is out to enforce what he sees as the law, no matter what the cost (or body count).

 

Again to give context, after the struggles of the anti-war protests and civil rights, public confidence in the police services was starkly divided.  His character, as well as his fellow members of his department, placed an emphasis on worst of law enforcement behavior. 

 

If you listen to the movie carefully though, you wonder if there is a story here that is untold.  At one point, after being told of Rambo's background, he says something to the effect of "(Rambo) is not the only one who had a hard time in Vietnam."  And every now and then you almost see him hesitate in his pursuit, almost give in to Col. Troutman's warnings to back off. 

 

Looking at this still photo, you see a set of medals on the table behind his desk.  Who did these belong to?  His father?  His son, who did not come home?  Or his?   The movie was edited down from an original 3 hour length to half that time... one wonder's if this was a story that was lost.

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#7 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:30 PM

The movie, of course, has a big spectacular finish. 

 

Actually compared to today's blockbusters, it is not quite as over the top, or even as big as some of the effects in the later Rambo movies.

 

How does he come up with an M-60 machinegun in the middle of the woods?  Easy... our inept National Guard brings it out when hunting him.  You would think when transporting a weapon like that in the back of a truck they would have somebody sitting with it, but it is easily believable that in an earlier time this could have been an easy oversight.

 

Rambo runs through the town with the M-60 and two boxes of belted ammunition.  Plausible?  Well, he was supposed to be super strong, and he wasn't carrying much else with him.

 

He blows up a gas station and then shoots out the power transformers to darken the neighborhood.  Maybe.

 

In the end he brings about an apocalypse to a middle class American town that had turned its back on him.  Symbolically he is getting back at a country that had abandoned the soldiers it had sent off to war.

 

I suppose the best that can be said is with a renewed view, and understanding some of the things that were going on back in 1982, you can buy into this one.  As far as chasing the Russians out of Afghanistan in his later roles, that is a bit harder to take. 

 

This might be an example of if they had just left the first movie be, it may of helped its reputation in the long run.

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#8 Rakkasan187

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:31 PM

Great write up and evaluation of the movie Gil..

 

Thank you

 

Leigh 



#9 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:32 PM

Did you know that the motion picture was filmed in Canada - Hope, British Columbia to be exact.

 

Yep, I read that.  They did a pretty good imitation of the US Northwest.



#10 gwb123

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:34 PM

The photos are from IMDB  https://www.imdb.com...ref_=ttmi_mi_sm

 

More information on the movie can be found at https://en.wikipedia...iki/First_Blood

 

The movie had multiple rewrites and endings which are explained on the wikipedia article.  It very easily could have turned into a major flop.



#11 Kadet

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:53 PM

I have wondered about the medals on the Sheriff's desk ever since I saw this movie in the theater when it came out. I think they are meant to be his, perhaps from the Korean War or even WWII. I believe this story was written long before the movie was made and was actually meant to be set in the 1970s. I also think it was based on a book or short story of some kind. Perhaps the written version explains? I always felt that Rambo and the Sheriff were both combat veterans but of very different wars....


Edited by Kadet, 03 August 2019 - 12:55 PM.


#12 Blacksmith

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:55 PM

I recently watched an interview with Stallone, and the bulk of the reduction in running time was his dialogue being taken out. If I remember correctly, he and his manager tried buying the movie back from the studio, so it would not get released. This is one of my all-time favorite movies, which I watch frequently - along-side Red Dawn (the original).

#13 Bodes

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 03:37 PM

I've often wondered why the character Brian Denehey portrayed carried an FN-FAL while the rest carried M-16's?....Bodes

#14 spec6-spencer

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 03:34 AM

Bodes, i think rather it is a G3 resp. a HK33/ T233 built in license from Harrington & Richardson.

 

Lars



#15 otter42

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 04:58 AM

I read the book around 1979-80, before the movie came out, and Rambo is killed by his Col. In the end. So I was really surprised when I watched the movie, but it made sense after all the sequel's! Rambo's character was much different in the book.

#16 63 RECON

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 05:01 AM

From memory Bryan Deneheys character, Teasle is a Korean War vet and a decorated one at that.

 

He sees Rambo and the publicity the Vietnam war is getting as overshadowing the Korean war and his efforts during that time. 



#17 gwb123

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 06:21 AM

From memory Bryan Deneheys character, Teasle is a Korean War vet and a decorated one at that.
 
He sees Rambo and the publicity the Vietnam war is getting as overshadowing the Korean war and his efforts during that time.

A generational conflict that was very real at the time. The Korean war vets came back with little fanfare, recieved little of the recognition that the WWII vets were given, and were expected to quietly meld back into civil society. They and the WWII vets could not understand what the Vietnam vets were so upset about.

Ironically, in my view and recollection, full recognition of the Korean war vets only came after the country began to "welcome home" its Vietnam vets in the early 1980's through to the 1990's. The Korean War Memorial in DC was not erected till 1995, thirteen years after the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

#18 Andrei

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 06:23 AM

I read the book around 1979-80, before the movie came out, and Rambo is killed by his Col. In the end.

 

What a sad ending! :o
 



#19 Blacksmith

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 06:38 AM

IIRC, they filmed more than one ending to First Blood, so it is entirely possible Trautman killing Rambo was an alternate.

#20 gwb123

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 07:33 AM

The wikipedia link that I posted explains the alternate story lines of the book and the movie. From what I read, Rambo in the book goes on a killing spree, which would explain why he was killed off. The movie, violent as it is, was tamed down apparently to make Rambo a more sympathetic character.

#21 Andrei

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 07:47 AM

Ironically, in my view and recollection, full recognition of the Korean war vets only came after the country began to "welcome home" its Vietnam vets in the early 1980's through to the 1990's. The Korean War Memorial in DC was not erected till 1995, thirteen years after the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

 

To this day in France, it is widely unknown to the public that the French Army fought in Korea. I guess it is the same for Greece, Netherlands and Belgium
 



#22 1canpara

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 07:48 AM

I was a police officer in Vancouver at the time Rambo was filmed, there were many locations around Vancouver and the surrounding towns including Hope. There were dozens of machine guns imported into Canada for the movie mostly M-16s and M-60s and most of them were stolen during the filming. Apparently the security around managing these weapons was lacking. This was a big deal because automatic weapons are illegal in Canada so having dozens of machine guns floating around the criminal world made a lot of us very nervous.

We used to see Stallone walking around town a lot, shopping, going for dinner etc. Met him once in a restaurant, seemed like a really nice guy.

#23 gwb123

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 08:02 AM

I was a police officer in Vancouver at the time Rambo was filmed, there were many locations around Vancouver and the surrounding towns including Hope. There were dozens of machine guns imported into Canada for the movie mostly M-16s and M-60s and most of them were stolen during the filming. Apparently the security around managing these weapons was lacking. This was a big deal because automatic weapons are illegal in Canada so having dozens of machine guns floating around the criminal world made a lot of us very nervous.

We used to see Stallone walking around town a lot, shopping, going for dinner etc. Met him once in a restaurant, seemed like a really nice guy.

 

Were any of them ever recovered?  If not, I would imagine they probably ended up in another country.



#24 1canpara

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 08:24 AM

Nope, never recovered to the best of my knowledge. After that there were significant changes as to how weapons were managed and secured for films. British Columbia and specifically Vancouver has been a hotbed of Hollywood moviemaking since the 70s because of the very diverse landscapes and urban areas, the low cost and great exchange on the dollar for US production companies and very talented film crews. Some of the 80s most popular TV series were filmed there, 21 Jump Street, MacGyver, X Files, and dozens more. I worked on many of them, it was pretty cool!

Rambo really did a lot for making BC well known place for great TV and movie productions!

#25 kammo-man

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 04:14 PM

Brian Dennehy also does a convincing portrayal of the small town sheriff, the big fish in a little pond. He is out to enforce what he sees as the law, no matter what the cost (or body count).

 

Again to give context, after the struggles of the anti-war protests and civil rights, public confidence in the police services was starkly divided.  His character, as well as his fellow members of his department, placed an emphasis on worst of law enforcement behavior. 

 

If you listen to the movie carefully though, you wonder if there is a story here that is untold.  At one point, after being told of Rambo's background, he says something to the effect of "(Rambo) is not the only one who had a hard time in Vietnam."  And every now and then you almost see him hesitate in his pursuit, almost give in to Col. Troutman's warnings to back off. 

 

Looking at this still photo, you see a set of medals on the table behind his desk.  Who did these belong to?  His father?  His son, who did not come home?  Or his?   The movie was edited down from an original 3 hour length to half that time... one wonder's if this was a story that was lost.

The book stated they were his Korean war medals.




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