Bruce Willis was one of those 1980s stars whose charisma went a long way beyond the vehicles designed to carry it. Moonlighting was an odd, prime-time detective show that allowed the young Willis to play the sly Lothario; 1987’s Blind Date furthered that bizarre sex appeal with the decade’s female equivalent, Kim Basinger. Even his tepid foray into singing, on the 1987 album The Return of Bruno, managed to elevate his cultural presence. So when he teamed up with director Renny Harlin to make a movie about an honest, wisecracking cop who takes on a group of international terrorists inside a shiny Los Angeles office building, he was already riding a peak of sorts. The film, Die Hard, solidified Willis’ standing as America’s ultimate tough guy, the cerebral response to the guttural posturing of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo franchise. Full of outrageous stunts, one-liners that became about as ubiquitous in school lunchrooms as warm chocolate milk, and some ambiguously European accents, the first installation of what has now become a quintessential American film franchise is still its best. 

Die Hard (1988)
Thursday, December 1
7 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
320 East 6th St., Austin, Texas
Tickets $12