Hope welcomes people from around the world when Rambo: First Blood 40th anniversary celebrations take place over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. One of the people coming to town is Patrick Stack, who played a small but memorable role in the legendary film.
Check out three more stories in the Hope Standard’s Rambo special section, which you can find on pages B1 to 8 of the Sept. 30, 2022 e-Edition.
Rambo: First Blood was a serious movie with knives and guns and a triggered Vietnam vet on the run from the law.
Inserted into that drama and tension is a humorous scene featuring Patrick Stack. In his role as Lt. Clinton Morgen, Stack leads a group of National Guardsmen into the woods in pursuit of Rambo. Though they outnumber him, Morgen’s men know they’re overmatched. When they pin him down at the entrance to a mining shaft, two of his men refuse Morgen’s order to move in.
“Rambo! This is Lt. Clinton Morgen, National Guard leader. I’m giving you just three zero seconds to come on out!” he yells, before asking one of his men where the rocket launcher is. One of Morgen’s men grabs the rocket launcher and scores a direct hit to the mine shaft entrance.
Moments later, assuming Rambo is dead (spoiler, he isn’t), they pose for a celebratory pic.
Stack’s performance through the entire scene is perfect. He is hilariously oblivious/overconfident and the effect is akin to a mouse telling a tiger he’s coming to get him.
“That was the intention of the director, Ted Kotcheff, to throw in a little comic relief to let the air out of the tire a little bit,” Stack said. “It was the very first movie role I had where I wasn’t saying ‘Hello’ or picking up somebody’s bag in the background, and it seems to be a moment in the film that people tend to remember. I’ve got a lot of mileage out of what is ostensibly a pretty small part.
“Forty years later and here we are, still talking about Lt. Clinton Morgen.”
Stack was never in Hope for the filming of First Blood. His scene was shot in Vancouver, so when he comes to town for the 40th anniversary celebration, it’ll be his first visit.
“I’m very excited to be invited up, but my first reaction was, ‘Wait a minute. You couldn’t get anyone else?’” Stack laughed. “But I’m honoured someone thought of me, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Stack admits he’s biased, but he believes First Blood was the best of the five Rambo films released between 1982 and 2019.
“In First Blood, the only character to die was Galt (played by Jack Starret), the cop who fell out of the helicopter, and that was almost accidental,” Stack noted. “Quickly, the body count ramped up significantly with the rest of the Rambo films. First Blood relied mostly on story as opposed to the mayhem you see with most action movies, and that’s what made it stand out.”
That and the performances of lead actors Sylvester Stallone (Rambo) and Stack’s good friend Brian Dennehy (Sheriff Will Teasle), who died last year. It was Dennehy who got Stack his role in the film.
“There were certain roles he was made for and this was one of them,” Stack said. “He could play heavy. He could play threatening. He could play ‘You better not cross this guy’ better than anybody. The chemistry between those two guys (Dennehy and Stallone), with the story line and Ted Kotcheff’s direction, really made the movie.”
Stack wishes Dennehy could have joined him in Hope.
“Brian was a very good friend to me for all the years I knew him and he is very sadly missed, and I think he would have thought this 40th anniversary celebration was pretty darn cool.”