Released in 1987, The Running Man is a sci-fi action movie, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yaphet Kotto, Richard Dawson, and María Conchita Alonso. The movie – set in a (then) dystopian future – follows the story of former police helicopter pilot, Ben Richards, who is framed for mass murder, then forced to become a contestant on a violent television gameshow known as The Running Man.
Although the movie was not a huge hit upon release, over the years The Running Man has developed a loyal following and has become a beloved entry in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie portfolio. The film has also picked up a number of nods from critics, who have noted how some of the events of The Running Man have come close to mirroring our reality in more recent times.
But what do you know about The Running Man? And would you like to know more?
Below are fifteen facts about this stone-cold classic. These are details about the film you might have missed, but would really love to know.
To direct and serve
The Running Man was directed by Paul Michael Glaser. Does that name sound familiar? It should – Glaser is a best known for playing the role of Detective Dave Starsky on the popular 1970s television show, Starsky & Hutch.
The Running Man was loosely based a 1982 novel by Stephen King. The book – which was also called The Running Man – was published under King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman.
You’ve got a friend in me
Early into the movie, stuntman Billy Lucas plays the role of a soldier, appropriately credited as ‘Soldier #3’. To audiences, Lucas is an unnamed character in the movie, but to Schwarzenegger, Lucas is a close friend and work colleague.
Amongst the many, many films that Lucas has worked on, he has appeared in multiple Arnie movies, usually as the actor’s stunt double. The movies include Total Recall (1990), Kindergarten Cop (1990), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Last Action Hero (1993), True Lies (1994), Jingle All the Way (1996), Batman & Robin (1997), End of Days (1999), Collateral Damage (2002), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), The Last Stand (2013), Sabotage (2014), Terminator Genisys (2015), Killing Gunther (2017), and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019).
The world is not enough
In The Running Man, María Conchita Alonso plays the role of Amber Méndez. Amber is an unwitting contest in the Running Man gameshow, who works with Ben Richards to expose the truth about the show.
As well as acting in The Running Man, Alonso’s career has also included singing, song writing, and being a contestant in a beauty pageant. In 1975 she represented Venezuela in the Miss World contest, where she finished in 6th position.
Who was that?
A couple of well-known faces pop up in The Running Man, in very minor roles. The first is musician Mick Fleetwood who appears as Mic – a technician who is part of the resistance.
The second well-known face belongs to Lin Shaye, who crops up in a blink-and-you-miss-her role as ‘Propaganda Officer’. Shaye is only on screen for a couple of seconds, but she does get to say the line: “Big crowd tonight.”
Game of life
The role of gameshow host Damon Killian is played by broadcaster and actor, Richard Dawson. Prior to taking on the role of Killian, Dawson hosted the popular US game show, Family Feud.
Singer/dancer Paula Abdul was employed as the choreographer on The Running Man, and oversaw a dance sequence which takes place mid-way through the film. The dance sequence was accompanied by a piece of music, written by Jackie Jackson, called Paula’s theme – a reference to Abdul’s work on the movie.
A man of his word
At around the 40-minute mark, just as Ben Richards is about to enter The Running Man battlefield, he utters the line “I’ll be back.” The phrase, usually associated with the Terminator movie series, has appeared in multiple Arnold Schwarzenegger films and is regarded as his signature catchphrase.
The role of Dynamo in The Running Man was played by Dutch-American actor and wrestler, Erland Van Lidth de Jeude. This was the actor’s final role before his death in September 1987 – two months before The Running Man received its theatrical release.
During his dramatic entrance in the film, Dynamo sings a piece of music from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. In real-life, Erland Van Lidth de Jeude was no stranger to opera, having regularly performed with New York’s Amato Opera.
The music man
The score for The Running Man was composed by German composer, Harold Faltermeyer. Faltermeyer has an extensive catalogue of film scores to his name, including Tango & Cash (1989) and Top Gun (1986).
The composer is perhaps best known for creating the iconic ‘80s track, Axel F, which is the title tune to the Eddie Murphy comedy, Beverly Hills Cop (1984).
Run to you
The soundtrack single for The Running Man – which plays over the end credits – is called Running Away with You (Restless Heart). The ballad is performed by English musician, John Parr.
Parr is no stranger to singing ballads for classic ‘80s movies, having previously performed the title theme to the 1985 coming-of-age movie, St. Elmo’s Fire.
In it to win it
During the final moments of the movie’s end credits, a voice over artist pops up to explain how to become a contestant on The Running Man. The voice over artist – calling himself Phil Hilden – suggests potential contestants should send in a self-addressed, stamped envelope “and then go out and do something really despicable.”
Two years after the release of The Running Man, the movie was adapted into a computer game. The game – a beat ‘em up developed by Emerald Software – was released on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and the ZX Spectrum.
A sign of the times
And finally, since the release of The Running Man, many of the social, economic, and political themes of the film have become ever more present in the real world – including the rise of reality television gameshows.
Perhaps most notable is that in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy was greatly impacted, basic freedoms became restricted, and there was a rise in poverty – all themes touched upon in The Running Man, which was set in 2019.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about The Running Man. For more movie-related posts, including some Arnie-based content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
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