Saturday, 11 March 2017

Silver and Black: The Making of The Last Boy Scout


The Last Boy Scout

Tagline: They're two fallen heroes up against the gambling syndicate in pro sports. Everyone had counted them out.
But they're about to get back in the game.

Released: 13th December 1991 by Warner Bros
Starring: Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans
Directed by: Tony Scott
Production Budget: $29M (Amount in 2017: $52.3M)
 Box Office: $59.5M (Amount in 2017: $103.3M)

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On paper, The Last Boy Scout looks like it was assembled by committee. Behind the scenes were a talented writer, a hugely successful producer and a director with a flair for action and an eye for detail. In front of the camera, one of the most popular stars of the moment. The studio couldn't believe their luck, and were convinced they had one of the biggest hits of the year on their hands - if only all the egos involved could get it made.

 Despite huge success at a very young age, when he began work on The Last Boy Scout writer Shane Black was in a bad place. The pressure of success, the burden of the money he'd made and the nagging doubt that he didn't deserve any of it, weighed heavy on his mind. According to a 1992 L.A Times interview, this culminated in him asking a friend to drive them to Las Vegas so he could bet  'all his profits on red'. A family illness and the end of a long term relationship all but finished him off. He lost the desire to write and became weary of taking on any new project for fear of failing. All this came barely 18 months after he'd hit the big time with the $250,000 sale of Lethal Weapon.

Shane Black was born in Pittsburgh in December 1961, and inherited a love of hard-boiled fiction from his father, almost to the point of obsession. The young Black would sometimes forego lunch in order to buy more books, while voraciously reading anything that his father had left around the house. Even at a young age he'd taken to writing comic strips; his first at the age of six, was about a spy called Super Pooper. At UCLA he studied film and theatre, and had a sideline in wild, unpredictable stand-up comedy. He wrote and performed one-act plays but upon graduating he became intimidated by the audition process.

During his final college year, his roommate Fred Dekker showed him a science fiction script he was working on, and Black was impressed that anyone could make money in this way. A script didn't need the same structure as a novel and he felt this was something he could be good at. After graduating, a group of the roommates lived together at what would become known as the Pad O' Guys. Along with Shane Black and Fred Dekker, were David Silverman, Jim Herzfeld and Ed Solomon. Solomon actually had a writing job on the final season of Laverne and Shirley and was responsible for getting Dekker an agent, which led to his first Hollywood writing job on Godzilla 3D (a project that stalled in 1983 over its $30M budget).

Black worked a number of jobs after college, including as a data entry clerk for the 1984 Olympics, before plucking up the courage to ask his parents to support him for six months while he wrote his first screenplay. They agreed, figuring if it didn't work out, their son could at least move on and get a proper job. The end result of this experiment was Shadow Company, a supernatural thriller that featured a Vietnam veteran taking on six resurrected soldiers hellbent on killing the population of a small town. In what would become a stalwart of Black's work, Shadow Company was set at Christmas, and according to the Scriptshadow website, was written in a style likened to Walter Hill and Alex Jacobs (writer of Point Blank).

Fred Dekker took the script to his agent David Greenblatt (Dekker's name appeared as co-writer on later revisions), who was impressed enough to take Black on and shop the screenplay around. Before he knew it, Black was getting lunch meetings with mid-level studio executives but quickly realised they weren't interested in Shadow Company, rather they had existing screenplays or new ideas they wanted Black to work on. He stopped taking meetings and set to work on what would become the script that put him on the map - Lethal Weapon

Black wrote Lethal Weapon in just six weeks. Running for 141 pages, the script was a different, much darker version than the one that would eventually be made, with a completely different ending that featured a truck full of cocaine exploding over the Hollywood sign. Shadow Company, at least in name, managed to make it into the script as the platoon name of a group of drug smuggling soldiers. At one point he abandoned the script, convinced it was awful, but something drew him back to it. With the first draft completed, David Greenblatt shopped it around again but was met with rejection from most major studios. In the meantime, Black set to work on The Last Warriors, a script rewrite project for Fox. 

Eventually Lethal Weapon found its way to Mark Canton of Warner Bros. who was impressed enough to bring on 80s action producer, Joel Silver. The studio offered an incredible $250,000 for the spec script, with a promise of a further $150,000 if it became a feature. There's conjecture as to how old Black was when he sold Lethal Weapon. Some say 22, meaning he would have needed to have written the script in 1983. However, a 1990 interview with New York Magazine states that Shadow Company wasn't written until 1984 and Lethal Weapon emerged after that. There's further confusion thrown into the mix by a Vanity Fair article claiming the script was the biggest spec sale of 1984, while other credible sources claim Black began the script in 1985 and it finally sold in 1986. Whichever it was, he had gone from nothing to being one of the most well-paid screenplay writers in Hollywood, something that did not go unnoticed. 

Before beginning work on re-writing Lethal Weapon, Black asked Joel Silver if he could have a small part in the movie he was about to shoot with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once on the Mexico set of Predator, when not playing the small role of Hawkins, he found himself doing uncredited work on the script, as well as spending plenty of time reading and hanging out with the cast. Around the same time, he sold The Monster Squad, a script he had co-written with Fred Dekker, who was also set to direct. 

Black had dropped out of working on The Last Warriors for Fox and began re-writing Lethal Weapon, now with help and input from Joel Silver. Warner Bros. drafted in Richard Donner to direct, who turned out to be at least the third choice for the job. Both Leonard Nimoy and Ridley Scott were said to be in contention, but the former was prepping Three Men and a Baby and the latter had the studio worried after the disappointment of Blade Runner. Donner bought in Jeffrey Boam to lighten up the script and add more humour. At the suggestion of casting legend Marion Dougherty, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover read for the roles of Riggs and Murtaugh and had a ready chemistry within moments of meeting. Shooting began in August of 1986 for a March 1987 release date.

Lethal Weapon was a critical and commercial hit, making $65M in North America, and a further $55M overseas, against a budget of $15M. Critics were equally impressed and the film received many positive notices, particularly for Gibson and Glover, as well as the script. A common theme amongst reviews was how well the drama worked with the bursts of action, and was a refreshing change to the mindless violence of other big 80s movies. The picture did incredibly well on the home video market too, and the studio quickly moved to put together a sequel. In the meantime, with a success to his name, the script for Shadow Company began to gain interest. At one point John Carpenter was set to direct the feature as a follow up to They Live, with Walter Hill as executive producer, though ultimately nothing came of it.

Warner Bros. returned to Shane Black for Lethal Weapon 2, but the pressure of the previous 18 months was beginning to affect him in a serious way. In the L.A Times article, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Millionaire, Black details how he'd barely had time to stop and think from the moment he'd sold Lethal Weapon to its release, but once it was released, the pressure and burden of success and money hit him hard. He started to question if he was actually a good writer, whether Lethal Weapon was a good script and what he'd done to deserve all this good fortune. He reluctantly agreed to write the sequel, along with Warren Murphy, creator of The Destroyer series (whose lead character, Remo Williams, had been featured in a 1985 movie). 

The first draft, entitled Play Dirty, was incredibly dark and brutal - some claimed it reflected the writer's mood at the time. Featuring a female character being tortured to death along with the shocking end of Riggs, this wasn't what Warner Bros. were looking for in their newest franchise. They pushed for more comedy and for Riggs to survive the final battle. After a difficult six months, Black quit, and offered to return his fee. His agent talked him out of it, telling him the script was perfectly fine. In the end he settled for a story credit with Warren Murphy. Jeffrey Boam was once again drafted in to add humour to the picture and rework the ending. He actually ended up writing two different versions, a hard-boiled one and a comedy one. Director Richard Donner had him merge the two together. The script was re-written further times, and changes were even made during filming. Lethal Weapon 2 went on to be even more successful than the original. 

 A few years later, Shane Black told New York Magazine that had he just given the studio permission to use the characters, he could have walked away with an easy $200,000. Instead, he agonised with Warren Murphy for months and ended up making $125,000. In the time since, he has come to recognise the original Lethal Weapon 2 script as the best thing he has written. Sadly, very few copies of it exist, and none appear to have made it into the public domain. The loss of a job would put fear into most people but Shane Black was relieved more than anything. A family illness and the breakup of his first serious relationship pushed him close to rock bottom, and he began to shun Hollywood. He still threw wild parties at the Pad O' Guys (which had long gained a reputation for such things) and travelled, but produced no new work. Despite being an open and engaging interviewee, Black rarely goes into details of what happened during this period of his life.

The idea for The Last Boy Scout first came to Black back in the mid-1980s, and he actually had discussions with Joel Silver about it while the two were working on Lethal Weapon. A fact that resurfaced during promotion of 2016's The Nice Guys was that the original working title for The Last Boy Scout back then was Die Hard. Some time later, when Silver was working on Nothing Lasts Forever, a new action feature which would star Bruce Willis, he asked Black if he could use the title of Die Hard

In December 1989, he finally began to write again. The original story for The Last Boy Scout saw a seasoned private detective being partnered with a young hot-shot partner. As work progressed, this developed into the tale of a cynical, ex-secret service agent turned private eye, who reluctantly teams up with a disgraced football player. Taking his love of hard boiled detective novels and bringing it into the modern era, Black worked on the script for five months, with a lot of the bitterness and cynicism he felt at the time being channelled into the character of Joe Hallenbeck and the story in general. The final credit for the story goes to both Black and the mysterious Greg Hicks, about whom little is actually known (The Last Boy Scout is his sole credit and he's noted elsewhere as being a co-scenarist). With his confidence still shaky, Black wasn't sure the script was any good, that it was too rough and out there. Even as he went to the copy shop to produce versions to send out, he was still questioning whether any studio would even look at it. He was about to find out how wrong he was. 

On a Monday in early April 1990, he submitted the script to David Greenblatt at the InterTalent agency, who met with his partner Bill Block and Black's lawyer the next day to come up with a sales strategy. Despite the screenwriter being out of the game for nigh on two years, his name still attracted attention - helped no doubt by him essentially being two for two with the Lethal Weapon movies (and while not a success, The Monster Squad was another script he'd had a hand in that produced a movie). While this was happening, InterTalent's team were calling up other agents and studios with the news that the new Shane Black script was ready.

Unbeknown to many, when Black had left his Last Warriors deal with Fox, they'd insisted on a clause in his departure that gave them 'First bid, last refusal' on his next original script. Honouring this, Greenblatt ensured Fox got a copy of the script on Thursday of that early April week. By the following Monday morning, they'd made an offer of $850,000, but both Greenblatt and Block felt they could get more. The next 24 hours would see an incredible back-and-forth bidding war. With Fox out of the picture for now, the script was free to be sent out to anyone who requested it - and thanks to hype generated by the agents, everyone wanted it.

By Monday lunchtime they'd had several offers above $1M. Wanting to avoid a bidding war and swiftly secure the script, Geffen's Eric Eisner came in with a $1.25M deal at 11pm on Monday night, but this was matched and then surpassed by Carolco and Tri-Star. They offered $1.5M, then $1.6M. Tuesday night, Geffen, now with Warner Bros. alongside them, offered $1.75M but Carolco countered again, claiming they would be willing to go to an astounding $2.5M if necessary. During this time, Black told New York Magazine in a June 1990 interview, he'd stayed at home and occasionally taken a call. 

On Tuesday night a decision was made, but prior to acceptance, Fox were given last refusal on the screenplay. They opted not to match the offer and Shane Black accepted the Geffen/Warner deal of $1.75M - the highest figure ever paid for a spec script at that time.  The studio already had a deal with Joel Silver, and the young screenwriter weighed up that the devil you know is better than the one you don't. Before the ink had chance to dry, he would come to regret that ideal. The story was widely reported in the press at the time and Black did little to downplay how important the script was to making a hit movie. He would argue sometime later that if a film made $150M, why shouldn't the writer get $2M? After the sale of Lethal Weapon and now The Last Boy Scout, both for large sums of money, Black was making himself as many enemies as he was friends. If others didn't think he deserved that amount of money for a script, he was about to spend many months earning it. The spec script record held in place for 67 days, when Carolco purchased Joe Eszterhas' Basic Instinct, for $3M. 

Only two days after selling The Last Boy Scout, Black found himself in a room with 14 studio executives telling him how the script they'd just bought for $1.75M, needed changing. To this day, he is still baffled as to why studios pay so much money for scripts they subsequently tear to pieces. Along with a fee for the screenplay, the studio had also agreed to pay Joel Silver $1M to oversee the production, and he had just the star in mind for the role of Joe Hallenbeck.

Joel Silver, along with Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, was the action producer of the 1980s. A loud, no-nonsense kind of guy, Silver's reputation for excess, anger and getting his own way was the stuff of legend. He was born in Orange County and attended Columbia High School (where, oddly, he became responsible for creating the rule set for Ultimate Frisbee), before enrolling at the NYU Film school. Silver left before graduating and set off to make his fortune in Hollywood. He soon landed an assistant's job with producer Larry Gordon. He worked his way up, spending a brief time with Universal before getting into hot water over excessive spending on furniture and his own birthday party.

He worked with Gordon again on the controversial hit, The Warriors, and on the ill-fated Xanadu, which saw Silver removed from the production when the budget began to get out of control. He ran into trouble a year later on The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, where it was alleged he requested reports be delayed to hide issues with the budget. After a brief stint with Polygram, he earned his first full, on-screen producer credit on the Eddie Murphy-Nick Nolte hit, 48 Hrs. Silver was finally away, and he followed the film with a string of hits, including Brewster's Millions, Commando, Predator, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. All the time his reputation grew, as did his budgets. One such tale saw him banned from the Fox studio lot after he ordered his driver to smash through the gates rather than sit in a queue of cars who were waiting to enter. 

Still, people were willing to put up with him given how successful his movies had become. The producer put this down to his formula - the need to have a big event happen every ten or so pages to keep the audience entertained. Why wait until the end to blow up a building, reasoned Silver, when you could blow one up now, and blow up even more at the end. Commando and Predator had both employed this tactic, to great success, and while Lethal Weapon wasn't so heavy on the action, it still had action-beats as regularly as the story allowed. 

By the time Die Hard was produced, Silver had the formula down to a tee. It would mark the first time he would work with Bruce Willis, though at one point it was said the actor was in discussion for the role of Martin Riggs. Cast against type, Willis played John McClane, a New York city cop who finds himself in the wrong place at the right time, when hi-tech robbers crash his estranged wife's Christmas party. The film was a huge hit, both with critics and the public, and the studio (and Silver) hoped for a follow up as quickly as possible. However, Willis, now with a taste of success and some influence, wanted to make a movie based on an idea he'd had years ago, about the adventures of a singing cat-burglar. 

Bruce Willis was born in 1955, and got into acting in high school, discovering that being on stage all but cured him of his stutter. He worked a number of blue collar jobs, as well as being a private detective for a short period, before deciding to take up acting full time. He attended acting school but quit before graduating and set off to New York to make his fortune. For a while he worked as a bartender while looking for acting work, and by the early 80s he'd moved west, to California. Willis made his (uncredited) on screen debut in the 1981 movie, The First Deadly Sin. It would be three years before he received his first proper credit, in an episode of Miami Vice. However, it would be the role of private eye, David Addison, in the TV show Moonlighting that put Willis firmly on the map. Beating out 3,000 other hopefuls, Willis joined Cybil Shepherd for five seasons and became a household name in the process.

Being in a hit show got Willis the attention of Hollywood, who cast him in the romantic comedy Blind Date. The film was a minor hit in 1987, and he followed this up with the period mystery, Sunset, opposite James Garner. As Moonlighting's popularity began to wane, the actor struck gold with the aforementioned Die Hard, which he followed up with the drama In Country, and the successful comedy, Look Who's Talking (an idea that felt like an extension of the infamous Moonlighting episode, Womb with a View). But Die Hard had been a $140M smash, and Fox wanted more - and fast. Willis had other ideas, and met with Joel Silver, wanting him to produce his pet project, Hudson Hawk. The producer agreed, but only if Willis would do Die Hard 2 first. 

The Die Hard sequel was another smash hit but Willis was now believing his own hype, and his ego was out of control. This was none more evident than on the set of infamous failure, The Bonfire of the Vanities. In Julie Salamon's warts-and-all book, The Devil's Candy, it's detailed how most of the cast and crew couldn't stand Willis and his ego. Director Brian De Palma had to call the actor off set at least once when he attempted to take over a scene. The film was a flop, and the actor moved on to Mortal Thoughts, opposite then-wife, Demi Moore. 

True to his word, Silver managed to secure funding for Hudson Hawk. The idea had originated from a song Willis had written with friend Robert Kraft, ten or more years earlier, that he went on to develop into a story. The actor moved straight from The Bonfire of the Vanities onto filming Hudson Hawk in the middle of 1990. The story behind the shoot on Hawk could stretch to many pages, but suffice it to say Willis all but took over the production from director Michael Lehmann. He overrode decisions, told Lehmann how he wanted certain scenes shot and made daily changes to the script - which was a mess at best. Word quickly got round Hollywood that Hudson Hawk was a disaster - over budget and over schedule. 

While the shoot was taking place, SIlver approached Willis with the script for The Last Boy Scout, which he felt the actor would be perfect for. The studio were pushing for the actor too because of the success the Die Hard movies had bought Fox. The only issue was that Willis didn't like the script; as he told Shane Black, he'd spent two whole movies rescuing his wife, he wasn't interested in doing it again. At the behest of Silver and Warner Bros. Black began to rewrite. He would later claim in a Daily Telegraph interview, that no script he had ever worked on was rewritten as much as The Last Boy Scout. By the time Willis finally agreed to star in the film, in August of 1990, the screenplay was a different beast. 

Shooting continued on Hudson Hawk and in the meantime, the hunt was on for someone to helm Boy Scout. Having proved to have something of an eye for detail and the skill to handle action, Tony Scott found himself with the job. The British director had followed in brother Ridley's footsteps by attending art school. At the age of 16, Tony appeared in Ridley's debut feature, a short film entitled Boy and Bicycle. In the years that followed he returned the favour by casting Ridley in One of the Missing. Both Scotts graduated art school and Ridley (six years Tony's senior) had set up a commercial production company by the time Tony graduated. The young Scott planned on being a painter originally, but was drawn to film by his brother's work. When he told Ridley he planned on making documentaries, Scott senior told him to come and work for him and make money shooting commercials. 

Shooting commercials would give him the experience he needed, and while Ridley began his movie career, Tony would spend the time overseeing the company. He became prolific, shooting a great number of commercials over the next 15 years, honing his trade at the same time. Encouraged by the success of others who'd managed the move from commercials to features, Scott continued to look for a film on which he could make his debut. At one point he became interested in adapting Interview With the Vampire, and then ended up involved in Flashdance. He told Empire Online that despite his commercial background, he had no idea what to do with the movie. Elsewhere, MGM were developing The Hunger, with a view to having Adrian Lyne direct it, but like Scott he had no idea how to shoot the material. The pair swapped projects, and Lyne went on to score a hit with Flashdance, thanks in part to the influence of MTV. Scott didn't favour so well - despite sumptuous sets, impressive production values, and a cast that included David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve, The Hunger failed to find an audience. 

Scott struggled to find employment in Hollywood after that, and soon returned to shooting commercials while dabbling in music videos. It was one such commercial, in which a Saab 900 raced a Saab fighter jet, that caught the eye of producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. They figured Tony Scott was just the man they needed to direct Top Gun. Reluctant at first, he finally agreed, seeing the film as taking a very dark journey, in line with his favourite war movie, Apocalypse Now. The producers had a completely different idea that took Scott some time to come to terms with. He eventually realised what they wanted were rock 'n' roll stars, in jets against a blue sky. Shooting on an aircraft carrier, he began experimenting with some slow-motion shots, as well as filming traditional dialogue scenes. When the slow motion stuff was sent (by accident) to the producers, Scott was fired. Discussing the incident with Empire magazine, he explained that bad weather prevented him getting off the carrier, so he continued to shoot footage. 

Top Gun wasn't well reviewed but became the biggest hit of 1986. Scott worked again with Bruckheimer and Simpson on sequel, Beverly Hills Cop 2. Despite feeling initially intimidated by Eddie Murphy, who at that point was at the height of his fame, Scott enjoyed working on the movie, and even took to having bets with his star over which shots would end up in the final print - Murphy jokingly dismissing some of Scott's choices as 'arty crap'. Cop 2 was another smash hit, but the director then faltered with his next choice, Revenge, a little-seen thriller starring Kevin Costner and Madeline Stowe. He teamed up with the Top Gun gang of Cruise, Simpson & Bruckheimer for Days of Thunder. Hoping to strike gold again, the film began shooting without a finished script. The producers felt all they needed was Cruise in a fast car and the people would flock. Robert Towne would write the next day's pages the night before, and throw the production's plans into chaos. The film did OK at the box office, but it was no Top Gun on wheels. 

Around the time he was offered The Last Boy Scout, Tony Scott was already working on his next feature, a war movie set in Afghanistan. However when funding fell through, he took up Joel Silver's offer. He liked the idea and loved Shane Black's original script, but as mentioned, what it ended up being was something quite different.

With the main elements now in place, and a March shoot date looming, casting could begin. As he had done on Lethal Weapon, Silver turned to Marion Dougherty to cast the picture. Dougherty was no beginner, and had become the first female casting executive at Paramount in 1975. She would go on to become vice president of talent at Warner Bros. a position she held from 1979 to 2000, and worked with some of the biggest directors of the time. Prior to that, she'd been responsible for giving the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight their first acting credits. In 1963 she set up her own casting company and, on Slaughterhouse  Five, was one of the first ever casting people to receive an entire title card for her credit. During her time with Warners, she was casting director on the likes of FirefoxThe World According to Garp (giving Glenn Close her break), The Lost Boys, The Killing Fields and Full Metal Jacket, to name just a few. A legend within her trade, even Dougherty was taken aback by an instance of casting on The Last Boy Scout

In her book, My Casting Couch Was Too Short, Dougherty details how they had already cast Marg Helgenberger as Hallenbeck's wife, Sarah. She had tested well, been offered the role and accepted. But despite not having casting approval, Bruce Willis insisted on them hiring Chelsea Fields. He attended a meeting with Silver, Scott and Dougherty, and managed to get Helgenberger dismissed and Chelsea Fields awarded the part instead. The casting director stated that in all her years before and since, she had never had such a thing happen - an actor getting someone recast simply because they could. In her words, she found it 'charmless and unnecessary'. She enjoyed working with Scott however, but he insisted that they film every single audition on tiny VHS-C tapes. By the time the picture was cast, they had a pile almost five feet in height - which Scott did nothing with. In this regard, she wrote, he was worse than Stanley Kubrick. 

Another anecdote was in regarding the casting of Billy Cole, a small but pivotal role featured in the movie's opening scene. Billy Blanks, a martial arts actor who had created the Tae-Bo fitness regime, tried out for the part but Scott felt he didn't have the right look. They went on to audition almost every football player on the West Coast, before Dougherty bought Blanks in to try out again. Scott loved him and cast him in the picture, but couldn't be convinced that he'd turned the actor down previously. Another small but important part went to newcomer Halle Berry, who had initially found fame as a model and Miss World entrant (she was the first ever African-American to represent the USA, at the 1986 competition). Moving to New York, Berry had landed a part in Living Dolls, a spin-off of Who's The Boss. When the show was cancelled she relocated to Los Angeles and landed her first feature role, as Vivian in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. In the same year she also appeared in Strictly Business, and landed the role of Cory, the exotic dancer girlfriend of The Last Boy Scout's Jimmy Dix.

Dix himself was played by comedian Damon Wayans, who had got his start in the entertainment business as a stand up comedian. He had a small role in the original Beverly Hills Cop before joining the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1985. Wayans' tenure on the show lasted a year before he was fired for going off-script, portraying a straight police officer as flamboyantly gay. The incident was put down to stress and the frustration of not having his sketches considered for the show. A number of movie roles followed, including a part in his brother's blaxploitation spoof, the brilliant I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! He also appeared in the Tom Hanks movie, Punchline. It was the sketch-based comedy show In Living Color, that really brought him attention. Along with brother, Keenan Ivory, Damon created, wrote and performed various characters and sketches, to great success. It also served as a calling card for a young Jim Carrey. Wayans stayed with the show for two season before leaving to pursue a full time film career. It was during the show's second season that he landed the role of Jimmy Dix. The Last Boy Scout wouldn't be the first time Wayans and Willis had worked together either - they'd lent their voices to characters in Look Who's Talking Too just a year earlier. The similar casting feel of 48 Hrs, with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte bouncing off each other, felt like no accident.

Further parts went to Noble Willingham, as Sheldon Marcone, the manager of the fictional football team, the LA Stallions, and the aforementioned Chelsea Fields as Sarah Hallenbeck. The slimy Senator Baynard would be portrayed by Chelcie Ross and the role of the doomed Chet was won by Kim Coates (who would get killed again by Willis in the 2005 picture, Hostage). 

Child star Danielle Harris took on the part of Darian, the precocious and foul-mouthed daughter of Joe and Sarah. Harris had been acting for some years by the time she won the role, having initially done a three year stint on the soap opera One Life to Live. She was in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers in 1988 and 1989 respectively. Horror would be a genre that Harris would return to numerous times during her career. She also had roles in Marked For Death, Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead and City Slickers - the last two both released in the same year as The Last Boy Scout

Yet arguably the most inspired (and memorable) casting was that of Taylor Negron as Marcone's henchman, Milo. Negron was a stand up comic and actor, and caught the comedy bug early on in his life. He told the Retrojunkies website in a 2011 interview that he began telling jokes on the bus home from a school trip one day, and loved the power it gave him. He appeared at the legendary Comedy Store while still a teenager, and according to a profile on The Dissolve, was an assistant to acting coach, Lee Strasberg, as well as studying comedy under Lucille Ball. He appeared in a number of comedy roles during the 1980s, making his feature debut in Young Doctors in Love in 1982. This was followed up with small parts in Fast Times at Ridgemont HighOne Crazy Summer and Better Off Dead, as well as the role of Rodney Dangerfield's son in Easy Money. He'd actually appeared with his Last Boy Scout co-star, Damon Wayans, in Punchline as well. But there was little in his resume that suggested he could play such a fantastic villain. 

With casting complete and the script now re-written and approved, filming could finally commence. As mentioned previously, the final version of the screenplay differed quite radically from the one Warner Bros. had bought the previous year. As well as Sarah Hallenbeck's role being reduced considerably, Milo's sideline in producing snuff movies was completely removed, as were at least a couple of the script's more explicit moments (Milo killing an entire family, a naked Sarah being threatened with a chainsaw). The main villain of the piece was changed entirely - which in turn changed some of Hallenbeck's motives too (Sarah's role being reduced also meant she would not be the one to kill Milo). 

In Black's original version, Hallenbeck's secret service agent beats the Senator's son to a pulp after he kills a mother and daughter while driving drunk. Left with brain damage, it is revealed toward the end of the screenplay that this same character is behind everything. But the villain didn't work - the character is revealed on page 144 and is dead by page 150. Instead, Sheldon Marcone was added, and introduced much earlier in the picture. The biggest change however, was the finale. Instead of taking place in fog bound boats on Long Beach, a more traditional car chase and fist fight was written in. According to assistant director, James Skotchdopole, this wasn't because of any demand, rather it was a practical decision. Shooting on water was costly and subject to much unpredictability - not to mention the 'June Gloom' of Los Angeles weather. 

The joke about Dix's $650 leather pants was actually written for Lethal Weapon and was a conversation between Roger Murtaugh and his eldest daughter. What's more interesting is The Last Boy Scout's most oft-celebrated scene, the 'Touch me again and I'll kill you' sequence was also part of the original Lethal Weapon script but was not used. However, the scene was included in the novelisation of the movie as this was based on an early draft and not the final shooting script. 

In March 1991, cast and crew assembled to begin shooting The Last Boy Scout. The pressure was on before a frame had been shot - Warner Bros. wanted the movie in theatres by December, only six months after filming was set to conclude. It didn't take all concerned long to realise they'd made one hell of a mistake. While the actual filming went seemingly without issue - it came in on time and on budget, there were way too many cooks involved. In a 2016 Daily Telegraph look-back at what went wrong with the film, James Skotchdopole blamed the issues on 'an overabundance of alpha males'. Everyone thought they were in charge, and while director Scott should have been the one calling the shots, it was actually Willis and Silver doing most of the shouting. They overrode decisions, made changes to shots and the script and, according to some, forced Scott to shoot certain scenes with the threat of him losing part of his fee or even being fired if he didn't agree (it's worth noting that in that same Telegraph interview, Skotchdopole shoots down this idea stating no one could have made Scott shoot something he didn't want to).

 While Willis and Wayans didn't share the same chemistry as Gibson and Glover, they did work well together - at least on film. For all intents and purposes, they despised each other, which added more pressure to proceedings. According to Taylor Negron, Silver was all over every facet of the picture too. He recalled in his Retrojunkies interview how he was being fitted for a Dolce and Gabbana outfit when Silver came into the room, looked at the suit Negron was wearing and noted to the tailor that the piping on the buttons didn't match. In that same interview the actor also mentions how O.J Simpson was on set to offer creative input into the football scenes. For his part, Scott did his best with the little space he had in which to manoeuvre. Along with cinematographer Ward Russell, he scored some amazing shots, the sunsets and sunrises, and wisps of smoke off Hallenbeck's near constantly present cigarette. If it wasn't a Tony Scott picture in content, it would be in looks. 

There were also issues with extras because of an aborted day's filming that nearly resulted in a riot. A two day at the Los Angeles Coliseum had been planned, but the second day was cancelled without any of the extras being informed. When they showed up in their droves only to find they weren't needed and wouldn't be paid for their time, they rushed the barrier around the set. Riot police had to be called to break up and disperse the crowd.

Two thirds of the way through the shoot, the pressure was ratcheted up another notch or two when Hudson Hawk was released to horrific reviews and terrible box office. Such was the (admittedly short-lived) furore at the time, it looked possible that Hawk's failure would destroy Willis' entire career. Silver and his star needed The Last Boy Scout to be a hit more than ever and the tampering increased. Speaking to Empire magazine many years later, Scott admitted he was caught between the two, and being further down the totem pole gave him a lot less influence. He went on to say that there may be ten different ways to shoot a scene, and any of them could be right - but you had to have one person calling the shots. 'Movie making is not a democracy' he would state. By the time the shoot was over, even Willis and Silver hated each other

Curiously, despite all the hype around the script sale, a new Bruce Willis movie, a Joel Silver production, very little actually escaped from the set. There exist few on-set interviews or press pieces. Magazines of the time covered the movie, but often without any real content of what went on during the filming - some were still intent on burying Willis' career with the aid of Hudson Hawk. Indeed, until the 2016 Daily Telegraph interview, barely anyone involved had gone on record to discuss the shoot. But one telling quote did appear in a profile on Joel Silver in the March 1994 issue of New Yorker, where he described working on The Last Boy Scout as 'one of the three worst experiences of his life.'

One interesting story did emerge from the shoot courtesy of Tony Scott. In the Empire magazine article, Scott on Scott, the director mentioned a film geek who kept pestering him with questions during the shoot - including how to shoot smoke convincingly. The geek in question turned out to be one Quentin Tarantino, and he wanted Scott to look at two scripts he'd written. Scott's assistant convinced him to read them after being impressed herself. He agreed to once shooting was finished. Generally he was a slow script reader but Scott said he read both manuscripts in one weekend and agreed to direct both of them. Tarantino informed Scott he could take True Romance, but he wanted Reservoir Dogs to be his directorial debut.

Now the clock was ticking to meet The Last Boy Scout's December release date. There was no chance of pushing it back, it was set to be Warner's big festive release, and Willis had to show that Hudson Hawk was just a bump in the road. But there was the issue of editing the picture still to contend with, and this would prove to be tougher than the shoot itself in some aspects. On Days of Thunder Scott had shot 1.6 million feet of film (with 12,000 feet being used). On The Last Boy Scout it was suspected he'd shot even more. Mark Helfrich, editor on the likes of Rambo: First Blood Part 2, Predator and Action Jackson claimed more footage had been shot than any other film he'd worked on. For his part, Joel Silver wasn't concerned - he hadn't finished the Lethal Weapon shoot with a movie, but had emerged from the editing suite with one. 

In total, there were three editors credited on the picture, with four further additional editor credits, as well as three assistant editors and two apprentice editors. It's unknown who went first, but Mark Helfrich recalls that he was told the previous editors had been fired when they couldn't make a workable cut. He was amazed to find excised footage had been spliced back into the reels from when the earlier cut had been rejected. Mark Goldblatt, who had worked with Silver on Commando and Jumping Jack Flash, and was responsible for editing the first two Terminator movies, was called in to fix the mess. He classed it as the most painful experience of his career and all but refuses to speak about it. Even when interviewed about his life's work for Podcastlightly, he was quick to move off discussion of the movie. The little he did say was that time was tight and the studio were scared. They'd spent a lot of money and had already started to preview the picture before Goldblatt was called in to help. Test audiences didn't like what they saw, and found Willis' character completely unlikable. He went on to say that both Scott (whom he liked a great deal) and Silver were both headstrong characters, but 'how many captains can a ship have?'

In the end, Stuart Baird was drafted in with orders to get the job done - and fast. Baird had worked with Richard Donner on a number of occasions and specialised in cutting action movies. He'd also cut both Lethal Weapon films for Joel Silver, as well as Die Hard 2 the previous year. Perhaps more notably, and the reason he may have been hired, was that he'd managed to salvage Tango and Cash in the editing suite when that film looked like being a disaster. Baird came to The Last Boy Scout so late his name wasn't even featured on the film's promotional posters and art work. Somehow, out of all the thousands and thousands of feet of film, edits and re-edits, Baird managed to get a workable cut that the production team and studio were happy with. 

Someone else who hated the first cut was composer Michael Kamen, who had been hired to provide the film's instrumental score. A much sought after talent, Kamen had composed and arranged music for a veritable who's who of contemporary musicians, including the likes of Pink Floyd, Queen, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty, to name but a handful. He'd provided scores for Pink Floyd - The Wall, Highlander and Brazil, as well as working on both Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, both Die Hards and Roadhouse. Indeed, it was only his relationship with Bruce Willis and Joel Silver that convinced him to stay the course and provide the score on The Last Boy Scout. For the opening song, Hank Williams Jr's 'Are You Ready For Some Football Tonight', was selected, but this was later replaced with Bill Medley's 'Friday Night's A Great NIght For Football'.

Silver and Warner Bros. finally had their finished movie. There was one minor bump with the MPAA who initially gave the picture an NC-17 certificate, but a few cuts to the film's more violent moments secured it an R-rating. The Last Boy Scout was set to open on December 13th 1991, less than six months after the final shot had been made. Critics were divided on the film's merits, and Roger Ebert, while seemingly disliking the movie, couldn't deny it was a 'superb example of a glossy, cynical, utterly corrupt and vilely misogynistic action thriller'. He ended up awarding it three stars. Entertainment Weekly awarded it a B+, their reviewer classing the film as a guilty pleasure. It currently sits with a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

December 1991 was relatively quiet save for one or two big releases, as is generally the case leading up to Christmas. The Addams Family had held the top spot since its release over Thanksgiving, but was usurped by Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The only existing direct competition for the adult market was Cape Fear, which was now in its sixth week and was all but done. The Last Boy Scout would go up against the long awaited Steven Spielberg picture, Hook, but as the two had their own audience demographic, they were unlikely to infringe on the other's business. Initial signs weren't great, and The Last Boy Scout opened to barely $900K more than Hudson Hawk ($7M). Hook took the number one spot with $13M, which itself was seen as a disappointment. 

A week later saw the release of Father of the Bride and Oliver Stone's JFK, which placed second and fifth respectively. JFK might have debuted higher but its three hour plus run time restricted how many screenings could be held each day. The Last Boy Scout held well, dropping 29% against its opening weekend's takings. A week on, taking in the Christmas holiday, the picture saw a huge increase in business (as is normal for most movies at that time of the year) and actually had the best weekend of its theatrical run with $8.4M. By the end of that third weekend it had recouped its estimated $29M production budget, and while not out of the woods quite yet, the film was out of flop territory at least. 

With no new releases in the first weekend of 1992, The Last Boy Scout had another decent frame and crossed the $40M mark, but slipped when up against The Hand That Rocked the Cradle, and to a lesser degree, the Christian Slater comedy, Kuffs. Weekend six and the picture dropped out of the top ten, in part due to it losing 300+ screens. It had at least crossed the $50M mark by this point. There was one more weekend's takings recorded, before the film lost screens in much larger numbers. All up The Last Boy Scout had doubled its production budget, and while no failure, it hadn't given Warner Bros. the Die-Hard like numbers it had been hoping for given the talent and spend involved in its production. 

While global numbers aren't available, the film did have a very successful run on the home video rental market. In North America it debuted in fifth place in early May 1992 and quickly moved up the chart to become the number one rental in the country only two weeks later. It held the top spot for a few weeks and remained in the charts for a number of months longer. Taylor Negron was also nominated for an MTV Movie award for Best Death. Despite all the issues, behind the scenes problems and egos, The Last Boy Scout had managed to be a success.

Bruce Willis moved onto other projects, but nothing quite worked and he never again worked with Joel Silver - though this appears to be more about comments the producer made about Hudson Hawk than The Last Boy Scout. Willis appeared in seven movies over the next two years but didn't have a hit bigger than The Last Boy Scout until 1994's Pulp Fiction, which marked the first renaissance for him. In the interim he'd appeared in Death Becomes Her, North, Striking Distance and the laughably bad erotic thriller, Color of Night. Pulp Fiction earned him some great notices, as did a role in Nobody's Fool opposite Paul Newman. He also scored a smash hit with Die Hard With a Vengeance, in which his character seemed a lot more Joe Hallenbeck than John McClane, as well as another great turn in Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys. 1997 gave him a hit in the guise of The Fifth Element, but The Siege and The Jackal both failed to find much of an audience.

A year on he teamed up with Michael Bay on Armageddon and scored the biggest hit of his career (and the most successful film of 1998). The Sixth Sense in 1999 was another incredible smash (second biggest of the year) but marked the turning point in the actor's career. He re-teamed with M. Night Shyamalan on Unbreakable but couldn't replicate their earlier success, though the film remains a firm favourite of many. He would appear in a string of forgettable movies including Hart's War, Surrogates, 16 Blocks and Tears of the Sun, before returning to the franchise that had made him a star in the first place. Live Free or Die Hard did OK numbers in North America but soared on the international market to the tune of $233M. There were other minor hits and good reviews for Willis' work, in the likes of Sin City, Red, Moonrise Kingdom and Looper, but the stories that emerged from Kevin Smith on the movie Cop Out proved the old egotistical Willis was still alive and well. 

One more trip as John McClane in 2013's A Good Day to Die Hard failed to entice audiences in North America, though again, it was a smash hit overseas. A sequel to Red couldn't recapture much of the appeal of the first movie, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For sank quickly without a trace. Of late, Willis has been content to show up in the modern equivalent of the straight to video feature. The Prince, Extraction and Marauders all made their debut 'on demand' - if they did see the inside of a cinema, it was only to fulfil a contractual requirement. At the time of writing, the actor has just finished work on a remake of Death Wish and is still toying with appearing in Die Hard: Year One in some capacity. 

Damon Wayans moved on to writing and starring in the romantic comedy Mo' Money, which was a modest hit in 1992, but Blankman, a super hero spoof he co-wrote, flopped. He appeared in a few more movies throughout the decade (Major Payne, Bulletproof, The Great White Hype) before making the jump back to TV with the sitcom My Wife and Kids, which he co-created. The show would run for five seasons, ending in 2005. Wayans would be largely absent from TV and film over the next five years, before returning with another sitcom, 2011's Happy Endings. In an interesting twist, he's now starring as Roger Murtaugh in the TV version of Shane Black's Lethal Weapon.

Danielle Harris appeared in Free Willy in 1993 and the Sylvester Stallone disaster flick, Daylight, before lending her voice to the character of Debbie Thornberry in the Nickelodeon show, The Wild Thornberrys (a role she reprised for the Thornberry movie and again for Rugrats Go Wild). Having appeared in two Halloween pictures early in her career, Harris was dismayed to find out her character was being recast for the sixth picture, The Curse of Michael Myers, as the producers wanted someone who was over 18 years old (Harris was 17 at the time). Rather than lose the part, she paid to be emancipated from her parents, allowing her to dictate her own working hours and the like. 

Ultimately she declined to appear in the picture after discovering her character would be killed off early on in the proceedings. She was further disappointed to discover the salary wouldn't even cover the cost of her emancipation. The actress did go on to become something of a scream queen, appearing in a large number of horror movies, including the likes of Urban Legends, Stakeland and parts two and three of the Hatchet Series. Harris even returned to the Halloween franchise, albeit in a different role, when Rob Zombie remade the original in 2007. She returned for the sequel in 2009. In 2013 she made her directorial debut on horror-comedy, Among Friends. She continues to work in the horror genre to this day. 

Chelsea Field had a busy couple of years after The Last Boy Scout, appearing in the likes of Hardware, Extreme Justice and the Flipper remake, as well as various TV shows and TV movies. In the decade that followed she moved away from acting, focusing her time on raising her children with partner Scott Bakula. Noble Willingham had already had an extensive career and he continued to work in all manner of TV shows and movies. He took on a recurring part in the Chuck Norris show, Walker, Texas Ranger, from 1993 to 1999. He died in 2004 as a result of a heart attack.

Taylor Negron was even busier after completing work on The Last Boy Scout, earning over a hundred credits with one-off appearances in the likes of Seinfeld, Friends and the Damon Wayans' sitcom, My Wife and Kids. He also found time to write and perform in the critically acclaimed stage show, The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron, as well as a number of other theatrical pieces. He was also an accomplished painter, with his work shown in exhibition a number of times. Tragically, in 2008 he was diagnosed with liver cancer, and succumbed to the disease in 2015, aged only 57. 

Tony Scott moved on to direct True Romance from the script by Quentin Tarantino. The film performed poorly but has gained a huge following and much reverence in the time since. The fictional Hollywood producer who appears in the film, Lee Donowitz, wasn't written to be Joel Silver, but according to Tarantino, Scott turned him into Silver. Saul Rubinek (who played Donowitz) had no idea who Silver was, he told Maxim magazine, but Scott loved what he did with the character. In the same interview the director said it was pure Hollywood satire, but added that Silver didn't speak to him for some time after that. True Romance was followed up by Crimson Tide, a thriller set aboard a nuclear submarine that starred Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. It was the first of five collaborations with Washington, which included Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 and Unstoppable. He worked again with Gene Hackman on the Will Smith thriller, Enemy of the State. Like Willis, Scott would never collaborate with Joel Silver again despite working primarily in the action genre. He would say some years later that Black's original script for The Last Boy Scout was much better than the film they'd ended up with. Sadly, the director took his own life in August 2012. 

Joel Silver himself moved straight onto Lethal Weapon 3 after The Last Boy Scout was completed, and while the sequel was a success, he suffered a string of disappointments and outright flops over the next six years. Indeed, despite working on nine pictures, including the likes of Demolition Man, Assassins and Executive Decision, Silver wouldn't have another $100M North American hit until 1998's Lethal Weapon 4. However, success was just around the corner thanks to The Matrix, a huge critical, financial and influential hit in the summer of 1999. The sequels in 2003 weren't nearly as well received but still proved to be incredible money makers.

The rest of the decade was a mix of mid-budget horror, (produced with director Robert Zemeckis through their Dark Castle Entertainment company) action features with Jet Li, as well as the likes of The Book of Eli, V for Vendetta and Speed Racer. He would see success again with the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movies and the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop, but it's safe to say there were more minor hits and disappointments than blockbusters. In 2012, Joel Silver ended his 25 year production deal with Warner Bros. opting to take a lump sum figure of $30M over keeping the rights (and residuals) to some of his biggest movies. Speculators at the time said Silver had borrowed so much money in advances he had little option other than to take the deal offered to him. In 2015 he announced a new deal with billionaire Daryl Katz that would allow him to produce movies without the need for studio backing. One of the first projects of the new partnership was The Nice Guys, the third directorial effort of Shane Black. 

For some, Shane Black was already the poster boy for everything that was wrong with Hollywood. If he'd learnt one thing on The Last Boy Scout it was that he wanted to direct his own work rather than watch others take it apart (or pay him to take it apart).  He did re-write work on the Arnold Schwarzenegger failure, The Last Action Hero, for which he earned another $1M. He then made headlines again in 1994 when he sold his script The Long Kiss Goodnight for a record breaking $4M. But Hollywood had had enough and the writer found himself being criticised on all sides for his earnings and playboy ways, culminating in a scathing article, written by Variety's Peter Bart, entitled 'Script fee vomits upward for mayhem-meister'.  The resultant film, which starred Geena Davis and Samuel L Jackson was a flop upon release. Black said his work was heavily re-written by a group of script doctors during 1995 and the massive failure of the Renny Harlin/Geena Davis picture, Cutthroat Island, sank The Long Kiss Goodnight before it got chance to find its feet. 

Black took his money and fell off the face of the planet for a few years. The parties, drink and drugs continued, as did lawsuits and ex-girlfriend problems. He tried to join the Academy but was turned down for not having enough on screen credits. Black told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016 that this felt like a personal snub  - ''We don't want that high-priced hack around us' was how he viewed it. He stopped writing for the longest time, before deciding a change of genre was what he needed. For years he struggled with a romantic comedy but couldn't make it work. He sought the advice of his friend and mentor James L. Brooks but still nothing came of it until Black decided to add a murder and a couple of detectives. He felt the script for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was so good, he wanted to direct it himself. But no one seemed interested - and he struggled to find anyone to even read it. 

But Joel Silver did, and managed to raise $15M - a long way from the big budgets he was used to, but enough to make the film without too much interference. Black struck gold on the casting too, though at that point Robert Downey Jr was about as risky a choice to take on a lead role as one could find. Fresh out of prison and desperate to get clean, Downey was dating Silver's assistant Susan Levin, and would hang around the office to be with her. Black and Silver got him to run through some lines from the script, and thought he was perfect. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang wasn't a hit, but gained many strong reviews and has found a ready audience over the years. It didn't put Downey back on the map like he'd hoped, but it did bring him to the attention of Jon Favreau, who thought he'd be perfect for the role of Tony Stark in Marvel's Iron Man.

Black took the failure of Kiss Kiss badly, and hit the drink and drugs perhaps harder than he ever had before. Another lawsuit and talk of him threatening an ex-girlfriend while on cocaine did him no favours either. In 2008 he hit rock bottom and decided to do something about his problems. He quit drinking and drugs, and began to write again. Along with friend Anthony Bagarozzi, he started playing with the idea of a couple of private detectives in Los Angeles. The Nice Guys was initially set in modern times, then it morphed into a TV show for CBS, before being retooled into a 1970s era comedy thriller. But after the partying and the failure of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, funding wasn't forthcoming - especially with Black set on directing. 

This all changed in 2010 when Robert Downey Jr called, wanting Black to work on Iron Man 3. Speaking in the same Hollywood Reporter article, the actor said that Shane Black had been his lifeline on the first Iron Man picture, and he would often call him up to discuss dialogue and scenes. Downey now wanted to return the favour and take a chance on the writer/director for the third Iron Man feature. The picture ended up having a lot of Black's trademark snappy dialogue, and went on to make $1.2 billion at the global box office. It gave him enough clout to get The Nice Guys made in 2016, and while the picture wasn't a smash hit, it made a lot of 'best of 2016' lists (star Ryan Gosling claimed he'd been a big fan of The Monster Squad back in the day, and that was why he agreed to work on The Nice Guys). At the time of writing, Shane Black is preparing to direct a new Predator movie, one which he has co-written with his long time friend, Fred Dekker. 

The Last Boy Scout certainly has its fans, including director Edgar Wright who described it as 'an action thriller framed by flaming air quotes'. He cites the film and Scott's directing as an influence on his own movie, Hot Fuzz. Such a fan, at one point Wright even tried to organise a screening and Q&A session with Scott, who agreed, but only if they showed True Romance instead. 

Viewed today, The Last Boy Scout's cynical streak seems to work better than ever, and Black's dialogue still crackles. Even with their disagreements, Willis and Wayans make a solid duo and their back and forth holds them in good stead against the likes of Murphy and Nolte. There's little evidence of the troubled shoot or the cross stitch editing, save for a couple of scenes which seem to switch from day to dusk. Taylor Negron, despite not properly showing up until an hour into the movie, easily becomes the highlight in his handful of scenes and both Noble Willingham and Danielle Harris offer great support. 

While the nature of the characters makes it hard to root for any of them, this doesn't detract from how good the movie is, thanks in huge part to Shane Black's fantastic ear for dialogue. The violence comes in short, sharp bursts and the plot moves quickly enough to keep the audience's interest. The Last Boy Scout may have been a nightmare of an experience for those involved, but it remains a great comedy-action-thriller, with some of the sharpest writing Hollywood has ever seen. 

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Sources - Italics denote a site or article of particular help

Wikipedia Pages - Various 
IMDB
A Talk With Taylor Negron - Retrojunkies
Antagony & Ecstasy - Tony Scott: The Last Boy Scout
Who Killed The Last Boy Scout - Daily Telegraph May 2016
Empire Australasia June 2016 Issue
The Last Boy Scout Production Notes - TCM.com
Smile You F**k, The Accidental Genius of The Last Boy Scout -Goodmenprojects.com
Radiator Heaven: The Last Boy Scout
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Millionaire - The L.A Times
Shane Black Talks Iron Man 3 and More - Collider
I Like Violence - CreativeScreenwriting.com
Shane Black Solves his Third Act Problem - Grantland.com
My Casting Couch Was Too Short - Marion Dougherty - Google Books
FILM: Why the Hudson Hawk budget soared so high - NY Times
New York Magazine - June 1990 Issue
Lethal Weapon Wunderkind is Back (and still looking for action) - The Hollywood Reporter
The Man with The Golden Gun - Joel Silver Interview : The Independant
Tony Scott on Tony Scott: Empire Magazine
Life Between Frames: The Films of Tony Scott Part 3 - lifebetweentheframes.com
Ryan Gosling talks The Nice Guys - Movieweb.com 
An Interview with Taylor Negron...You know, that guy - heebmagazine.com
Shane Black - The Hollywood Interview -thehollywoodinterview.com
Lethal Weapon Gives Writer Shane Black a Shot at Fame - People Magazine
Interview with Fred Dekker - Simplycinema
Scriptshadow Titan Week: Shadow Company - Scriptshadow.com
25 Facts about Lethal Weapon - Mental Floss
Will The Spec Script Rise Again in Hollywood? - Vanity Fair
Podcastlightly - Interview with Mark Goldblatt

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