Rambo: American Adam, Anarchist and Archetypal Frontier Hero

  • Adi Wimmer
Part of the Insights book series


Rambo: First Blood II was launched simultaneously in more than 2000 movie theatres across North America on 22 May 1985, grossing $100 million in its first ten weeks alone. It has since become the most lucrative movie in the history of the cinema, making its star Sylvester Stallone the best-paid Hollywood actor. His fee for Rocky IV, which was next in line after Rambo II, was $12 million. After a very successful run in North America, the film was launched in Europe, Africa and Asia, playing to packed audiences everywhere. Even the Peking People’s Daily wrote of an ‘outstanding artistic achievement’ in its review, and praised its ‘social and cultural relevance’. The film was reportedly particularly successful in Beirut and other Arab capitals, which is painfully ironical, considering that President Reagan, by his own account, was inspired by Rambo to use tougher methods with certain ‘mad dogs of the Middle East’. (Stallone showed his greatfulness for this seal of presidential approval by having a shot inserted in his 1986 movie Cobra that shows him, as a private investigator, sitting in his office flanked by a huge portrait of Reagan on the wall.) In Austria, my own country, the Centre for Empirical Social Studies was alarmed to find that by November 1985 Rambo had become the most popular cultural role model in the ten to sixteen years age group, toppling ex-chancellor Bruno Kreisky and racing driver Niki Lauda in the popularity charts.


Vietnam Veteran Movie Theatre Twin Brother Strategic Defence Initiative Private Investigator 
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    R. Slotkin, Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1830 (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1973).Google Scholar
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    L. B. Lewis, The Tainted War: Culture and Identity in Vietnam War Narratives (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985).Google Scholar
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    J. Hellmann, American Myth and the Legacy of Vietnam (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986) p. 85.Google Scholar

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© Editorial Board, Lumiere (Co-operative) Press Ltd 1989

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  • Adi Wimmer

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