JIMMY LILE'S HANDMADE KNIVES

That surly character that looks like he's mugging Jimmy Lile at knifepoint is Sylvester Stallone, a big movie star. That knife was designed and built by Mr. Lile and was used by Mr. Stallone in the movie "First Blood." I guess by the name tags that this photo was taken at some kind of social function associated with the movie. Below are copies of the two knives made by Jimmy at Stallone's request. The bottom knife is the one used in "First Blood." The one above that was used in the sequel and has a blade one inch longer than the first. Bigger movie, bigger knife.

According to the guy at the shop, pictured below peeking over the tops of his glasses, Jimmy quit designing knives for the Rambo sequels because the movie companies kept trying to negotiate complicated merchandising contracts for the knife designs. Finally, he said, "To hell with it. Get yourself another boy. Working with movie company lawyers is like being pecked to death by chickens." Okay, I made up the quote, but it essentially explains why only the first two Rambo movies feature Jimmy's knives.

They are, according to the knife shop's brochure, "the two most famous and most copied knives in the world today." If you want the genuine article from Jimmy Lile's Handmade Knives, it's going to cost you $655 for the original or $760 for the sequel. That sounds like a lot, and all their knives have vertigo pricetags; but if you actually handle one of the thirty-or-so designs they keep in their shop, you'll notice an indefinable difference between a factory knife and a handmade Lile knife. I can't explain it, but I couldn't help but notice it.

Jimmy passed away in 1991, but the knives are still made by the craftsmen he trained and each piece is inspected by his widow before it is sold to you by this fellow. I didn't catch his name, but he'll tell you all about the late Jimmy Lile and his knives. The shop, located at 2721 South Arkansas Avenue (that's hwy 7) in Russellville, also houses Jimmy's personal knife collection which includes knives he made when he was twelve years old.

These knives are renowned planetwide, and Jimmy was regarded as one of the top five knife makers in the world. As an aid to collectors, all knives made by his shop after his death have had their markings subtly changed. One thing I especially appreciate about this shop is that all the designs are practical as well as beautiful. You won't find any of those silly, gratuitous klingon designs here.

By the way, my favorite Stallone movie is "Oscar." The best line in the movie is, "Take a seat. Da noice will call yeh numba."

RTJ--8/1/97



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