48 hours on 6Ter: why did this cult buddy movie almost escape Eddie Murphy?  - Cinema news

48 hours on 6Ter: why did this cult buddy movie almost escape Eddie Murphy? – Cinema news

“48 Hours”, directed by Walter Hill, airs tonight on 6Ter. For the occasion, a look back at the reasons that could have prevented Eddie Murphy from playing in this buddy movie.

Released in 1983, 48 Hours is an urban thriller based on a cop-thug tandem. Following the murder of two of his colleagues by gangsters, an angry policeman (Nick Nolte) seeks revenge. For this, he calls on one of their former accomplices, an inmate named Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy).

Producer Lawrence Gordon, a loyal collaborator of director Walter Hill, began developing the film for Columbia Pictures in the early 1970s. The idea came to him from a true story: police officers seeking the advice of a prisoner to rescue a governor’s daughter who is being held hostage.

For years, the script underwent numerous rewrites by Roger Spottiswoode and Walter Hill. Several big names are expected to play the two characters in the feature film (originally designed as a very “seventies” thriller and not a buddy movie), such as Burt Reynolds and Richard Pryor.

Sylvester Stallone (in an earlier version than Hill), Mickey Rourke, Kris Kristofferson, Jeff Bridges and Clint Eastwood are also attached to the project for a time.

Finally, Lawrence Gordon joins forces with the famous Paramount studio, then directed by Don Simpson, who wants to assign the roles to Nick Nolte and Gregory Hines. But the latter refuses to devote himself to Cotton Club. Solicited in the process, Howard E. Rollins Jr. and Denzel Washington also decline.


Paramount Pictures

Walter Hill’s girlfriend, working as an agent, then offers Eddie Murphy to play Reggie Hammond. At this time, the actor is a comedian known thanks to the show Saturday Night Live but has never acted in a film. Don Simpson, convinced of his potential, ensures that he is hired.

When the producer was fired from Paramount for drug use in 1982, Jeffrey Katzenberg took his place. Unconvinced by the choice of Eddie Murphy, he seeks to get rid of him after three weeks of filming! Joel Silver, working with Lawrence Gordon, recalls:

“I said to him, ‘You really are a fucking jerk.’ It was the first appearance in a starring role for the biggest star of the 1980s. And they wanted to fire him.”

If 48 hours marks the first steps of the one who is about to become a star via The Flic of Beverly Hills, the film also constitutes the beginnings of the buddy movie. Based on a duo of very different characters brought together, the genre reached its peak in the 1980s, with titles like Lethal Weapon.

When it was released, 48 Hours was a big hit at the box office, with nearly $76 million in worldwide revenue for a budget of $12 million. A success that makes Eddie Murphy bankable and that gives rise, eight years later, to a sequel, 48 hours more, which turns out to be even more lucrative.

Source : “Box office, the biography of Hollywood’s craziest producer” by Charles Fleming, Sonatine Editions.

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