Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Etymology and John McClane

In doing a personal research project regarding the classic (and now over-sequelized) 1988 action film DIE HARD directed by John McTiernan and starring Bruce Willis, I picked up on something kind of interesting...

The expression "yippee-ki-yay," attributed to Roy Rogers by John McClane (Bruce Willis), may or may not have actually been coined by Roy Rogers.  In trying to find the actual very first use of the term, I found some intriguing clips on YouTube.

First were a couple of versions of the song "The Ballad of Pecos Bill" by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. In both the following version (date unknown) and the 1948 version below from the Disney feature film, Pecos Bill, the line is "yippee-i-yay, yippee-i-oh"...

A little closer is the next song, written by Johnny Mercer and performed by Bing Crosby, "I'm An Old Cowhand" from 1936.  It features the expression "yippee-i-oh-ki-yay."

And in this Roy Rogers version of "Git Along Little Dogies" from 1940, he uses the expression "whoopy-ti-yi-oh."

So, did Roy Rogers ever actually say yippee-ki-yay?  Maybe as dialogue in a particular film?  Or on the radio?  Or in a different version of a different song?  I'm not sure. If so, I still haven't found it.  My research continues...  

Also, I'm throwing this last clip in, 'cause it's pretty cute.

And with that, I think I may have done more actual, proper, Die Hard related research than the makers of A Good Day to Die Hard did.

Theatrical Reviews
On the Waterfront (1954)  ****
Ghostbusters (1984)  ****
Evil Dead 2 (1987)  ****
Manhattan (1979)  ****
Chinatown (1974)  ****
Jaws (1975)  ****
Mad Max (1979)  ****
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)  ****
Django Unchained  ***1/2
The Fifth Element (1997)  ***1/2
Bronson (2008)  ***1/2
Jack Reacher  ***1/2
Samsara  ***1/2
The Dark Knight Rises  ***
The 'Burbs (1989)  ***
Looper  ***
The Expendables 2  **1/2
The Master  **1/2
To Rome With Love  **
A Good Day to Die Hard  *1/2

DVD/Home Video
The Silence of the Lambs: Criterion Collection (1991)  ****
The Killing: Criterion Collection (1956)  ****
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)  ****
Dark Days (Documentary)  ****
Zero Effect (1998)  ****
The Thing (1982)  ****
Heist (2001)  ****
Johnny Carson: King of Late Night (PBS)  ***1/2
Looking For Mr. Goodbar (1977)  ***1/2
Maria Bamford: Plan B (2010)  ***1/2
Escape From Alcatraz (1975)  ***1/2
The Eiger Sanction (1975)  ***1/2
The Long Goodbye (1973) ***1/2
The Brink's Job (1978)  ***1/2
The Rocketeer (1991)  ***1/2
Sid and Nancy (1986)  ***1/2
Futurama: Volume 7  ***1/2
Withnail & I (1987)  ***1/2
Meanwhile (2012)  ***1/2
Mona Lisa (1986)  ***1/2
Real Life (1978)  ***1/2
Haywire (2012)  ***1/2
Hit! (1973)  ***1/2
Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule: Seasons 1 & 2  ***
80 Blocks From Tiffany's (Documentary)  ***
NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell (Doc)  ***
Resident Evil: Degeneration (anime)  ***
Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)  ***
Tom Waits: Big Time (1988)  ***
Night Fishing (South Korea)  ***
The Cannonball Run (1981)  ***
Private Eye (South Korea)  ***
Rough Cut (South Korea)  ***
The Nickel Ride (1974)  ***
The Quiet Earth (1985)  ***
White Lightning (1973)  ***
The Howling (1981)  ***
Valley Girl (1984)  ***
Class (1983)  ***
Flying Swords of Dragon Tiger Gate (HK)  **1/2
The Sorcerer and the Green Snake (HK)  **1/2
2019: After The Fall of New York (1983)  **1/2
Edge City / Sleep Is For Sissies (1980)  **1/2
Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)  **1/2
Drive A Crooked Road (1957)  **1/2
Endangered Species (1982)  **1/2
Cannonball Run II (1984)  **1/2
American Flyers (1985)  **1/2
Lady in Cement (1968)  **1/2
The Choirboys (1977)  **1/2
Tony Rome (1967)  **1/2
High-Ballin' (1978)  **1/2
Saturn 3 (1980)  **1/2
Machete (2011)  **1/2
Bad Ass (2012)  **1/2
Busting (1973)  **1/2
Walker (1987)  **1/2
Jaws 2 (1975)  **1/2
Gator (1976)  **1/2
Sliver (1994)  **1/2
Jade (1995)  **1/2
They're Playing with Fire (1984)  **
Return to Boggy Creek (1977)  **
American Anthem (1985)  **
Dawn of the Dead (1978)  **
Diary of a Hitman (1991)  **
Live From Tokyo (Doc)  **
Pink Panther 2 (2009)  **
Thunder Run (1986)  **
Sadako 3D (Japan)  **
Raw Force (1982)  **
Destroyer (1988)  **
Moon 44 (1990)  **
Air Doll (Japan)  **
Zardoz (1974)  **
Wacko (1982)  **
Claws (1977)  **
Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf  *1/2
Casa De Mi Padre (2012)  *1/2
Repo Chick (2009)  *1/2
Terrorvision (1986)  *1/2
R.O.T.O.R. (1989)  *1/2
Grizzly (1976)  *1/2
Grizzly 2: The Predator (Workprint Edition, 1983)  1/2 *
Robbers of the Sacred Mountain (1982)  1/2*

The Films of Humphrey Bogart
San Quentin (1937)  **1/2
Dead End (1937)  ***1/2
You Can't Get Away With Murder (1939)  **1/2
King of the Underworld (1939)  ***
The Return of Doctor X (1939)  **1/2
They Drive By Night (1940)  ***1/2
All Through The Night (1941)  ***1/2
Across the Pacific (1942)  ***
Sahara (1943)  ****
Action in the North Atlantic (1943)  ***
Passage to Marseille (1944)  ***
Dead Reckoning (1947)  ***
Chain Lightning (1949)  ***
Tokyo Joe (1949)  ***
The Enforcer (1951)  ***1/2
Battle Circus (1953)  **1/2

The Films of Wim Wenders
The Scarlet Letter (1973)  **
The American Friend (1977)  ***
Hammett (1982)  ***
Paris, Texas (1984)  ****
Wings of Desire (1987)  ****
Until The End of the World (1991)  ****
Faraway, So Close! (1993)  **1/2
The End of Violence (1997)  ***1/2
Buena Vista Social Club (1999)  ****
The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)  ***
Land of Plenty (2004)  ***
Don't Come Knocking (2005)  **1/2

SeagalFest 2012
Steven Seagal Vs Justin Lee Collins (2011, UK)  ***
Maximum Conviction (2012)  **1/2
The Path Beyond Thought (2001, Doc)  **
The Voice Vs Steven Seagal  (2012, TV)  **

Music/Spoken Word
Maria Bamford: Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome  ****
Com Truise: In Decay  ***1/2
The Dark Knight Rises (score by Hans Zimmer)  ***
The 'Burbs (score by Jerry Goldsmith)  ***
Moon 44 (score by Joel Goldsmith)  **1/2
Mitch Murder: Mars (EP)  ***
Bronson (soundtrack)  ***
The Amazing Spider-Man (score by James Horner)  **1/2
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Official Dramatized Recording  *

Ricky Gervais XFM Podcast Seasons 1-4  (YouTube)  ****
The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO/YouTube)  ****
Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special!  (Chill.com)  ***1/2

Hotel Chronicles (Wim Wenders)  ***1/2
The Old Neighborhood (David Mamet)  ***
Kiss Your Ass Goodbye (Charles Willeford)  **1/2
Gas Station (Joseph Torra)  *


Cleanshave said...

Maybe it's as simple as "yippee-i-oh-ki-yay mutherf@(&er." doesn't sound as good as "Yippy Ky Yay MF'er."

Maybe that's just because we have lived with the line for so long that saying it any other way sounds awkward.

And maybe that was the original line and bruce just didn't say it right on the set, on the scene... ah hell, y'know what I mean.

millionsuns said...

This is good stuff. I doubt anyone's gone into this kind of depth.

I personally think Bruce Willis changed the line himself because he thought it sounded better. And it does, but he's the kind of guy who would do it over the objections of the writer. Then he'd probably clear the set and ask him if he wanted to take a swing at him.

On another note, I see you checked out Dark Days. Got a story about that - I'm sitting on a curb at the playground at Brooklyn Bridge Park a while ago watching the kids and this guy sits down next to me and watches his kid, and we get into a conversation about kids and what we were like before we had them. Turns out he's this british guy who moved to Florida to make his way in the USA, but things went a different way and he ended up in the tunnels under the upper west side, where he lived for awhile.

I say, "There's a great documentary about that, called Dark Days. Seen it?" He says, "Yeah, that's my movie." Turns out this dude is Marc Singer, the director. He now owns a company that sells high end barware to Manhattan night spots.

--mcc said...

Cleanshave: And maybe they changed it just enough so that they wouldn't have to pay royalties to the Roy Rogers or Bing Crosby estates! Oh, man... "On the set...? On the... sceeeene?" Classic!

millionsuns: Thanks, dude! I often wonder what my response to Bruce would've been if he were to ask me that. I think I'd say something like "No, man. You're one of my heroes. I just want the scene to be as good as it can be." Or just cartoonishly start yelling so that everyone can hear me, "DO I WANNA TAKE A SWING AT YOU? WHY? WHATDYA MEAN, BRUCE?" See if he can be embarrassed.

Oh yeah, I've seen DARK DAYS. I've been meaning to pick up the Anniversary DVD with the extra scenes and the "where are they now" bonus stuff. That's a crazy story. Hope he's doing well. Also: have a look on YouTube for these great NYC docs...


Tim said...

Veeeeeery interesting!