During the filming of a scene where Denise Crosby hits Eddie Murphy in the stomach with a rubber baseball bat prop, Murphy was afraid Crosby would actually hit him instead of stopping about a foot away like all staged movie blows. She demonstrated her control on both Walter Hill and Nick Nolte to assure Murphy, but ended up hitting him anyway during a take.
The movie during the late 1970s was originally designed as a vehicle for Clint Eastwood as the cop and Richard Pryor as the con. Around this time, Eastwood wanted to play a criminal and turned down the film and went and starred as a convict in Escape from Alcatraz (1979). The picture then went into turnaround for a time and didn't go back into development for another couple of years.
Eddie Murphy revealed on Inside the Actors Studio (1994) that he didn't know how to "act" when drawing a gun, so he simply did what he did in every movie since: impersonate the facial expression of a ready for battle martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
Reportedly, Eddie Murphy's paycheck was US $450,000 whilst Nick Nolte's salary was US $1,000,000. For the film's sequel Another 48 Hrs. (1990), reportedly, Nolte got US $3 million, whilst Murphy received US $7 million.
The Jack Cates character played by Nick Nolte apparently became the inspiration for the Sonny Crockett character on the later hit television series Miami Vice (1984). 48 Hrs. (1982) actress Olivia Brown went on to be a regular on the same show.
Nick Nolte was top first billed whilst Eddie Murphy received second billing. This billing order would be reversed for the movie's 1990 sequel Another 48 Hrs. (1990) where Murphy would be billed first and Nolte second.
Eddie Murphy states in his 2008 Biography special that his character's name was originally scripted to be "Willie Biggs." He had concerns with that name as it sounded too much like a "Hollywood, made-up, black guy's name." He suggested the last name Hammond based on a raspy-voiced, cool kid from his hometown named Terrance Hammond. Reggie was a compromise by having just the first name be a typical "Hollywood, made-up, black guy name."
The make and model of Jack Cates (Nick Nolte)'s car is a sky blue 1964 Cadillac DeVille convertible. The nick-name that Hammond (Murphy) calls Cates (Nolte)'s car was a "piece of shit sky-blue Cadillac". The make and model of Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy)'s car is said to be a Porsche in the film, meaning a Porsche 356 Speedster, but the vehicle, seen in both gray due to dust and once cleaned, black, actually is a Intermeccanica 356 A Speedster replica built by CMC (Classic Motor Carriage).
The film's original storyline, according to Wikipedia, "had the Governor of Louisiana's daughter kidnapped by a criminal, who strapped dynamite to her head and threatened to blow her up in 48 hours if the ransom was not met. The meanest cop goes to the worst prison in the state and gets out the most vicious criminal for his knowledge of the kidnapper who was his cell-mate".
The movie has, as outlined by Wikipedia, "often [been] credited as being the first "buddy cop" film". But the buddy genre movie pre-existed this e.g. Clint Eastwood cop characters are partnered in buddy fashion with a woman in both 1970s movies The Enforcer (1976) and The Gauntlet (1977). Trade paper Variety states that 48 Hrs. (1982) is a "throw-back to the buddy-buddy pictures of the 1970s".
There are a couple of scenes that were shot but not included in either the theatrical or video/DVD releases. In the first scene, Jack and Elaine are walking through Chinatown during the daytime after the scenes in the police station following the hotel shooting and before Jack goes to get Reggie out of prison. In the scene, Jack apologizes for the way he snapped at Elaine (at the beginning of the film) and expresses his concerns about going after Ganz. The second is an extended version of the existing scene of Reggie at Vroman's as he's trying to hit on women at the bar. While both scenes are not included in the released version, parts of them are shown in the trailer and are often inserted during TV broadcasts to fill time due to the edited action scenes.
Because of the violent shoot-out in the hotel lobby sequence, according to the book "Walter Hill: Last Man Standing" (2004) by Patrick McGilligan, Walter Hill was told he would never work for Paramount again. Hill did though, as he directed Another 48 Hrs. (1990) for Paramount.
According to the Nov-Dec 1982 edition of 'Coming Attractions' (USA) magazine, the film was "one of the rare Hollywood movies in recent years to make major use of black talent". The picture was "backed by a supporting cast of seven black actors and some two hundred black extras. In addition The Bus Boys, a mostly black rock group . . . perform[ed] four new songs written specially for the movie".
According to 'Allmovie', the movie "greatly bolstered the career of Nick Nolte and made comedian Eddie Murphy a bonafide box-office sensation". Murphy's debut in this movie, like Lauren Bacall's in To Have and Have Not (1944), is considered one of the most sensational debuts in screen history.
Paramount Pictures studio executives were concerned during shooting that the picture would be too violent to also function as an effective comedy. The hotel-lobby shoot-out was the execs' major grave concern.
The movie's promotional blurb started with the phrase "The Boys Are Back In Town". This was also the name of a song written specifically for the film. The track was never released when the movie came out and was never available on CD until the year 2000. The "The Boys Are Back In Town" wording was used as the main movie tagline for the film's sequel Another 48 Hrs. (1990). Though the original song was heard at the end of the sequel, the track wasn't included on the sequel's album either.
The weapon carried initially by Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) and then taken by Albert Ganz (James Remar) at the hotel shootout, is a Smith and Wesson model 29, 44 magnum with a 4inch barrel and custom wood grips with finger grooves. The loaner weapon issued to Cates at the station house is a Government model Colt 1911 A1, 45 automatic. Cates seems to carry this pistol in the same shoulder holster he used for his 44 revolver. In reality, this is impractical as the two weapons have very different contours. Probably a different holster was switched in for the automatic pistol. The weapon procured by Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) while waiting for Cates at Vroman's, is a snub nosed Smith and Wesson model 19, 357magnum. The weapon used by Billy Bear (Sonny Landham) is a Colt New Frontier. This is basically the classic western six shooter only with more modern sights. However, the adjustable rear sight seems to have been removed from the weapon used in the movie. During his initial arrest, Luther (David Patrick Kelly) shoots at Cates with a Colt New Service revolver, most likely a 45 calibre issue. Oddly, the front sight appears to have been completely filed off of this weapon.
Clint Eastwood was originally approached to play Detective Sergeant Jack Cates. Eastwood wanted to play a criminal role and ended up playing one in Escape from Alcatraz (1979) instead. As a result, the film went into limbo for two years.
Many movie posters for the picture featured a preamble that read: "The boys are back in town. Nick Nolte is a cop. Eddie Murphy is a convict. They couldn't have liked each other less. They couldn't have needed each other more. And the last place they ever expected to be is on the same side. Even for... 48 HRS."
This film's director Walter Hill's later movie Brewster's Millions (1985) had a number of elements associated with this picture. The later film featured a number of the same actors, props, locations (such as Torchy's Bar) and story-elements as this movie, such as a light-blue 1964 Cadillac convertible as well as featuring a number of the same supporting actors. Richard Pryor who stars in the later movie was the original choice for the part played by Eddie Murphy.
This movie is not actually the first ever movie to be titled 48 Hrs. (1982). The British Ealing film Went the Day Well? (1942) was retitled as "48 Hours" for its American release stateside around thirty-eight years earlier in 1944.
First of two "48 Hours" movies. The second and final movie, Another 48 Hrs. (1990), was made and released about eight years after this picture. There was once talk of there being a third film, yet another 48 Hours film, but this never eventuated.
This Paramount Pictures production was originally in development at another studio, Columbia Pictures, which was the regular production house for star Richard Pryor, who not surprisingly, was originally tagged for the convict role played by Eddie Murphy. Around the time of the late 1970s and early 1980s when 48 Hrs. (1982) was in development, Pryor actually played a prisoner twice, in Stir Crazy (1980) and Bustin' Loose (1981). 48 Hrs. (1982) director Walter Hill later worked with Pryor on Brewster's Millions (1985). Pryor and Murphy later star-teamed together in Harlem Nights (1989).
In addition to actor Sonny Landham playing "Billy Bear" in this film and "Billy" in the movie Predator (1987), as previously noted, both characters also display very large Bowie style knives while shirtless during the film.
In Walter Hill's original rough cut of the movie, Annette O'Toole had much bigger role and even one (maybe two) nude scenes. Some of the stills showing her character Elaine naked in the shower while Nick Nolte is looking at her did show up in movie magazines at the time and in some articles about O'Toole.
Paramount had previously rejected early drafts of the film, but suddenly rushed into production in spring 1982, urging Walter Hill and producer Lawrence Gordon to begin principal photography by mid-May 1982. However, the script had not been completed, and, according to Nick Nolte, Hill and co-writer Larry Gross continued to write throughout the shoot.
The original premise had the Governor of Louisiana's daughter kidnapped by a criminal, who strapped dynamite to her head and threatened to blow her up in 48 hours if the ransom was not met. The meanest cop goes to the worst prison in the state and gets out the most vicious criminal for his knowledge of the kidnapper who was his cellmate.