48 Hrs. (1982)
The mismatched-buddy crime-fighting flick--you know, the Lethal Weapon/Rush Hour shtick--seems by now to have been around since Thomas Edison first said "Print it." But you can pinpoint its origins precisely to 1982's 48 Hrs., a spare, brutal, brutally funny work from action director Walter Hill that made Eddie Murphy a movie star (in his film debut) and Nick Nolte a bona-fide leading man. The only cop to survive a bloody shootout, Nolte's Jack Cates springs Murphy's Reggie Hammond from jail, sure that Hammond can lead him to the ruthless escaped convict and armed robber (James Remar) who blew away Cates' buddies. Hammond tries repeatedly to run his smooth patter on Cates, only to find the cop as stolid and unyielding as a buffalo, but far more foul-mouthed. In fact, for its era, this film was remarkable for its level of profanity and for its straight-ahead, no-bullshit gunplay. Practically every bit in 48 Hrs. has been recycled by lesser moviemakers, save for the funniest, most memorable scene, in which Hammond, Cates' shield in hand, terrorizes a redneck bar by announcing, "I'm your worst fuckin' nightmare, man. I'm a nigger with a badge." No one has dared try to improve on the high-wire intensity of that moment, nor copy Murphy's reckless, boyish glee.