Nothing Lasts Forever (Thorp novel)
|Publisher||W. W. Norton & Company|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ4.T55 No 1979 PS3570.H67|
|Preceded by||The Detective|
Nothing Lasts Forever is a 1979 thriller novel by Roderick Thorp, a sequel to his 1966 novel The Detective. It is mostly known through its film adaptation, Die Hard. In December 2012, the book was brought back into print and released as an ebook for the 25th anniversary of the film.
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In the year 1975, author Roderick Thorp saw the film The Towering Inferno, which is about a skyscraper that catches on fire. After seeing the film, Thorp fell asleep and had a dream of seeing a man being chased through a skyscraper by men with guns. He woke up and later took that idea and turned it into the The Detective sequel, Nothing Lasts Forever.
Retired NYPD Detective Joe Leland is visiting the 40-story office headquarters of the Klaxon Oil Corporation in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, where his daughter Stephanie Leland Gennaro works. While he is waiting for his daughter's Christmas party to end, a group of German Autumn-era German terrorists take over the skyscraper. The gang is led by the brutal Anton "Little Tony" Gruber. Joe met Gruber during World War II when Joe was a fighter pilot.
The terrorists plan to steal documents that will publicly expose the Klaxon corporation's dealings with Chile's Junta. They also intend to deprive Klaxon of the proceeds of the corrupt deal by dumping $6,000,000 in cash out of the tower's windows. Leland not only believes their claims, but also that his daughter is involved.
Barefoot, Leland slips away and manages to remain undetected in the gigantic office complex. Aided outside only by LAPD Sergeant Al Powell and armed with only his police-issue Browning Hi-Power pistol, Leland fights off the terrorists one by one in an attempt to save the 74 hostages, including his daughter and grandchildren.
Joseph Leland is an aging, retired NYPD detective on his way to Los Angeles to visit his daughter for a Christmas party hosted by her boss, Mr. Rivers. Although retired, he still habitually carries his Browning Hi-Power pistol with him everywhere, paranoically carrying it onto planes by using his old badge in fear of a terrorist attack. On the plane, Leland begins a relationship with a stewardess named Kathy, who he talks to throughout the novel over the phone. Leland is still somewhat depressed that his wife had left him and then died eight years later, and the relationship between him and his daughter is strained. He hopes that this visit will help the relationship, but when the building is taken over, he uses his experience with terrorists to kill them all and save the hostages. He is depicted as a disturbed hero from his Second World War fighter pilot days, and it is hinted that if he never got involved that nobody would have been killed. In Die Hard, his name is John McClane and he is portrayed by Bruce Willis.
Stephanie Gennaro is the only daughter of Joseph Leland and an important executive to the Klaxon Oil building. She is sleeping with another executive named Harry Ellis. She invited her father to the party in the hope of seeing him and wishing him a Merry Christmas, but she soon falls hostage to Anton "Little Tony" Gruber and must believe that her father can do the impossible. The book ends with Stephanie falling to her death after Leland shoots Gruber next to a high rise window and he grabs her as he falls through the window. In Die Hard, instead of the daughter being held hostage, it is McClane's wife named Holly Gennero and portrayed by Bonnie Bedelia. Also, the movie ends instead with Gruber attempting to do the same to Holly only to fail due to McClane's intervention.
Anton "Little Tony The Red" Gruber, of German heritage, is the leader of the terrorists who have taken over the Klaxon Oil Building, and one of the few who can speak English. Gruber is his real name but people (including Leland) often refer to him as "Little Tony" or "Tony" as a nickname. Gruber is a ruthless man who will stop at nothing to complete his goal, no matter who he has to kill. In Die Hard, his name is Hans Gruber and he is portrayed by Alan Rickman.
Al Powell is a 22-year-old LAPD sergeant who is sent to the Klaxon Oil headquarters to check on an emergency call made by Leland and is soon thrown into radio contact with him and monitored by Gruber. Powell tries to talk Leland into keeping calm and not to lose his cool and sees Leland as the true hero that he is. Powell ends up saving Leland from Karl and getting him into an ambulance. In Die Hard, he is older and is portrayed by Reginald VelJohnson.
Dwayne Robinson is the deputy chief of police and is sent in to take charge of the situation at hand. He automatically dislikes Leland for what he is doing and feels that he is only making things worse for the hostages. He tries to convince himself that Leland could be one of the terrorists or a lunatic but is soon on Leland's side when he finds out what Leland's been doing. In Die Hard, he is portrayed by Paul Gleason.
Karl is Anton's right-hand man. Near the beginning of the novel, Leland kills his younger brother, Hans, and throughout the remainder of the novel, Karl wants nothing but Leland's blood. He is the last surviving terrorist and the only one Leland didn't manage to kill. He appears at the end of novel, having been thought dead by Leland, drawing his AK-47 assault rifle in a last-ditch effort to kill Leland, but is shot dead by Al Powell. In Die Hard, he is portrayed by Alexander Godunov, and is first seen killing the guards in the lobby.
Mr. Rivers is the president of the Klaxon Oil Building, and he hosted the Christmas party and arranged the ride in for Leland. Rivers is soon disliked by Leland and is taken hostage by Gruber to get the safe code in order to get the millions of dollars in the safe. Unfortunately, Rivers refuses to give the code and Gruber shoots him in the lapel, killing him. In Die Hard, Rivers's name is Joseph Takagi and is portrayed by James Shigeta. Hans executes him by shooting him in the head.
Harry Ellis is a sleazy executive in the Klaxon Oil Building who is sleeping with Stephanie Leland Gennaro and does drugs such as cocaine, which makes Leland dislike him. In the middle of the novel, Ellis tries to help the terrorists and help himself by trying to talk Leland into giving himself up. When Leland refuses Ellis's proposal, Gruber kills Ellis, which makes Leland feel responsible for his death. In Die Hard, Ellis is portrayed by Hart Bochner.
Die Hard film adaptation
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Roderick Thorp originally wrote Nothing Lasts Forever as a sequel to The Detective so it could be made into a follow-up film starring Frank Sinatra as Joe Leland. But when Frank Sinatra declined the role, it was then changed into a sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando. Schwarzenegger turned down the role, and the script was retooled in 1988 for the standalone story, Die Hard, which would later become a popular action film.
The film follows the source material closely. Some of its memorable scenes, characters, and dialogue are taken directly from the novel. The story was altered to be a stand-alone film with no connections to Thorp's novel The Detective. Other changes included the older hero of the novel becoming younger, his name changed from Joe Leland to John McClane, his daughter becoming his wife (maiden name "Gennero," different from the book's spelling of "Gennaro"), and the American Klaxon Oil Corporation becoming the Japanese Nakatomi Corporation. The "terrorists" are actually professional thieves that are after $640 million in negotiable bearer bonds kept in the building's vault and are posing as terrorists to draw attention away from the robbery. In the film, they are also not only German, but of varying ethnicities, although most remain European. The tone of the novel is far darker with underlying themes of guilt, alcoholism and the complexity of the disturbed human mind. The novel also features female terrorists. The ending of the story is also different from the big screen adaptation in that it ends much less positively, suggesting that Joe could possibly succumb to his wounds and die.
As different as the two works are, they are still very similar. Some of the most famous action sequences from the film are taken from the book, like:
- McClane jumping off an exploding roof with a fire hose attached to his waist and then shooting through a window to gain re-entry.
- Dropping a C-4 bomb down an elevator shaft.
- McClane taping his gun to his back at the climax.
- McClane crawling through elevator shafts.
Similarly, Willis explained in a 1988 interview with KXAS-TV's entertainment reporter Bobbie Wygant that he acted out McClane with enough fear, anxiety, and vulnerability to make audiences believe that he could indeed possibly be killed because of what happened in the story, as Joseph Leland could possibly have died of his injuries in the book.
- "Classic Interview: Bruce Willis for "Die Hard" 1988". The Bobbie Wygant Archive. 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2014-06-09.