30 Facts You Never Knew About Rambo: First Blood!

It was one of the most popular films of the 1980s!

First Blood is the 1982 American action film co-written and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubles and misunderstood Vietnam war veteran. He needs to rely on his combat and survival senses against the abusive law enforcement of a small town.

The film is based on a book of the same name, and it is the first instalment of the Rambo series.

It was released in the United Stated on 22nd October, 1982. It opened to largely mixed reviews, but turned out to be a box office success grossing over $125.2 million.

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Its success spawned a franchise consisting of three sequels, all of which we co-written and starred Stallone as the titular Rambo.

 

There was also an animated series, comic books, novels and a Bollywood remake.

A fifth film, tentatively titled Rambo: Last Stand, was cancelled in January 2016 when Stallone stated that he was retiring the character. But in May, 2018, it was announced that a fifth film, called Rambo V, and it is scheduled to be released in 2019.

So in preparation for the new film, feast your eyes on thirty behind-the-scenes facts about the first film in the series, First Blood. 

1. The Makeshift Coat Really Was a Rotting Canvas

In the film, Rambo finds a piece of rotten canvas in the woods and cuts it into a makeshift coat.

This was not a prop, but an actual piece of canvas that the crew found during the movie’s production.

Usually when making films, there are several of each piece of clothing made. Since there was only one of this coat, Stallone joked how it became a precious prop on set.

After filming finished, Stallone kept the canvas and still has it today.

2. Sylvester Stallone Broke Alf Humphrey’s Nose

During the jail escape scene, Sylvester Stallone broke the nose of Alf Humphreys, who played Lester, by elbowing him in the face. This is why he is seen wearing a band-aid throughout the rest of the film. In a strange coincidence, this is what Rambo does to a police officer in the book during the same scene.

3. Stallone Tried To Destroy The Film

Stallone hated the first cut of the film that much that he tried to buy the film back and completely destroy it.

When he wasn’t able to do that, the actor suggested that the producers cut a lot of his part out and let the rest of the characters tell the story. This cut the time of the movie in half and set a precedent for future action movies.

4. There Were A Few Big Changes From The Book and Film Versions

In the novel, the reason behind Teasle’s resentment towards Rambo was because Rambo was a veteran of the Vietnam War, which gained a lot of attention.

However, Teasle was a veteran of the Korean War which most people had all-but forgotten about at this point in time.

5. Rambo’s Knife was Custom Designed

The knife that Rambo uses was custom designed by the late Arkansas knife maker, Kimmy Lile. The film popularised knock-0fff hollow handed survival knives with compasses in the pommel. If one thing that films try to avoid to make popular, we guess it’s any type of weaponry, especially in today’s highly volatile and influential climate.

6. Teasle is a Decorate War Hero 

Teasle keeps a series of medals in a display case behind him in his office, these medals, from right to left are: the Silver Star, The Purple Heart, and the Army Distinguished Service Cross Medals.

These indicate Teasle was a highly decorated Korean War hero as both the Silver Star and ADSC are awarded for extreme valour and bravery in enemy combat.

The subtext of the book was a battle of different war tactics, for this reason; this is underplayed in the film.

7. Both The Fictional And Real Worlds Collided

The movie takes place in the fictitious town of Hope, Washington. However much of the movie was filmed in the real town of Hope, British Columbia.

During the filming of the movie, a truck used to store fifty odd firearms imported into Canada for the film was stolen along with the contents.

8. The Names of Rambo’s Team Were Actually The Film’s Crew

According to Sylvester Stallone in the DVD commentary, the names of the people in Rambo’s Vietnam team are actually names of the film’s crew.

This included make-up artist Michael Westmore and costume designer Tom Bronson.

This must have been pretty cool for the crew members who’s names were read out.

9. Someone Broke Their Back During A Stunt

 

During the scene when Rambo is being chased by police, the stuntman playing Sheriff Teasle suffered a broken back when the car launched to remarkable heights on the assisted ramp approaching the railway crossing.

The vehicle landed on its chassis, injuring Dobbins who found that he could not walk when exiting the car.

10. A Shot Of Brandy Made Stallone Sick

Despite the air and water temperature during filming were extremely cold and Stallone only wore a tank top throughout most of the film, Sylvester Stallone did not get sick.

That was until someone offered the actor a shot of brandy.

To be fair to him, we can understand why this would have made him sick, it’s not the nicest of stuff!

11. Someone Pretended To Be A Fan Of His To Get Free Drinks 

In the DVD commentary for the film, Stallone said that during filming, a girl in the town bar pretended to be a fan of his in order to get herself a round of drinks out of him.

Stallone later included a similar scene in the 2006 Rocky Balboa film.

12. There Are Several Scenes Shot That Were Never Used

A scene was filmed where Rambo, whilst in the cave after dispatching Teasle and his men, has another flashback.

He thinks about himself and his buddies in a bar in Vietnam being entertained by the local ladies. Rambo then takes one back to his room where they make sweet, sweet love. The scene flashes back to the present and Rambo begins to cry.

13. It Was Stallone’s Favourite Rambo Film, Despite Him Hating It At First

Despite initially wanting to buy it back from the studio and destroy the film because he hated it so much, when Stallone appeared on the Graham Norton chat show in the UK, he ranked this one as his favourite saying: “he wouldn’t change a thing about it”.

Neither would we!

14. Extras Used Their Real Names On The Set Of The Film

In the scene where Rambo is pursued into the mineshaft, with the exception of the National Guardsman leader Lieutenant Clinton Morgen (played by Patrick Stack,) all of the other guardsmen who pursue Rambo into the mineshaft are referred to by the same names as the actors who play them.

15. Sylvester Stallone Asked For A Lot Of Money For The Role

Sylvester Stallone asked for a total of 3.5 million dollars for his role as Rambo.

The Producers of the film, Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna, told him he could have 2 million dollars instead. The extra one and a half million dollars came from television sales of the film.

16. James Garner Was Originally Asked To Play Rambo

The actor James Garner was considered for the lead role of Rambo. However, he was a veteran of the Korean war himself with two Purple Hearts and Garner didn’t want to play a man who comes home from war and starts fighting cops.

We can see Garner’s reasoning here and really don’t blame him.

17. It Pushed Back The Filming Of Rocky Three

Because the production time was extended, it pushed back the filming of Rocky III.

It was originally budgeted at eleven million dollars, but it ultimately ended up costing closer to seventeen million dollars because the production ran several months late. We guess that’s only six million dollars over budget, which is tuppence compared to most things in film.

18. One Of The Roles Was Only Cast The Friday Before Filming Began

Kirk Douglas was first cast as Colonel Trautman but pulled out at the very last minute due to script differences.]

As such, the producers had to rush to replace him. The first tried Rock Hudson, but he was recovering from open heart surgery and had to turn it down. They then offered it to Richard Crenna, who only accepted it the Friday before filming began the week after. He had to keep having his lines fed to him until he could get caught up.

19. It’s All Quite Japanese

It is often claimed that in Japanese, “rambo” means “violence”. This is not quite correct. The adjective “ranbou” or “rambô” (depending on how you choose to romanize it) has a meaning closer to “rowdy”, although it can quite legitimately be translated as “violent”.
It is also identical in pronunciation to the Japanese title of the film.

20. The Filming Rights Were Bought Shortly After The Book’s Release

The filming rights to the novel were bought by Columbia Pictures at the request of producer, Lawrence Turman.
They cost a reported $75,000 dollars. Richard Brooks was originally down to direct the film and spent more than a year on the project, researching it and writing the script, which ended with Rambo being killed and more emphasis being put on the Sheriff.
However, Brooks wasn’t happy with the script and he didn’t want to make the film when Columbia wanted to, and so the film fell apart.

21. Warner Bros. Tried To Buy The Rights From Columbia

John Calley over at Warner Bros. spent 125,000 dollars trying to buy the project from Columbia.
In this vision of the film, Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro were discussed for the lead part.
Both Rambo and the sergeant would have died and Trautman would be allowed to live on.

22. Kris Kristofferson Was Also Considered to play Rambo

After the success of Convoy in 1978, Kris Kristofferson was considered to play the part of John Rambo.
Many felt that the former Airborne Ranger would have made an excellent Rambo and hoped that his good friend, Sam Peckinpah, would be persuaded to direct the film.
Just how many versions of this thing were planned?

23. It May Have Inspired A Real-Life Rampage

On August 19, 1987, a man called Michael Ryan who was a fan of violent movies, went on a six-hour “Rambo style” violent rampage in Hungerford, England, which ended when he killed himself.
It had been suggested by the media, and newspapers drew parallels between Michael Ryan and John Rambo in First Blood (1982), but there was no evidence that Ryan had seen First Blood.

24. Rambo Was Supposed To Be A Distillation Of The Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

David Morrell said that he also represented the signs of challenge of authority by university students who are younger than him.
The book is also the result of several discussion sessions organised between Morrell and lecturers aimed at the select group of students who have returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam.

25. When I Wondered How Many Versions Were Planned…

It was estimated that there were eighteen versions of the script for the movie in total. One writer who turned down the job was John Milius, who was approached in the lat 1970s.
However Milius’ producer, Buzz Feitshans eventually produced the movie after the original producer, Ed Carlin, died of a heart attack.

26. There Are Possible Alternate Endings

There are two possible alternate endings thought of, or considered. The first possibility would had seen Colonel Trautman forced to shoot and kill Rambo, just as Rambo is about to shoot the injured Teasle and kill him. The other ending would had seen Rambo run out of the police station in slow-motion, opening fire at the police, but, the police shoot and kill Rambo.

27. It Helped Out The Cutlery Industry

In a 2011 article for Blade Magazine, by Mike Carter, credit is given to David Morrell and the Rambo franchise for revitalizing the cutlery industry in the 1980s; due to the presence of the Jimmy Lile and Gil Hibben knives used in the films. In 2003, Blade Magazine gave Morrell an industry achievement award for having helped to make it possible.

28. Many Of The Extras Were Local Unemployed People

Many of the extras who appeared throughout the film were local townsfolk who were recently left unemployed when a nearby mill had ceased operations, and they were more than happy to have the cast and crew of the film there to provide them work opportunities.
They must have been pretty happy when the film crew rocked up on their doorstep.

29. One Of The Actors Apologised For Falsely Claiming He Had Served in the Vietnam War

Actor Brian Dennehy would later apologise for implying that he had served in the Vietnam War in several public statements. He admitted that he had served in the US Marines in the 1960s but finished his tour of service before regular US forces were deployed to Vietnam.

30. Its Age Rating Was Changed Between It’s Cinema and DVD Release

When the film was released in the UK in cinemas and on VHS, it was given the 18 certificate even though the film wasn’t extremely violent and only 1 person gets killed in the film.
When the film was released on DVD, the British Censorship Board changed the rating to a 15 certificate.
 

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