Original Australian Daybill Movie Poster.Nighthawks is a 1981 American action-thriller film directed by Bruce Malmuth and starring Sylvester Stallone, Rutger Hauer, Billy Dee Williams, Lindsay Wagner, Persis Khambatta and Nigel Davenport. Its score was composed by Keith Emerson. The story was originally planned as The French Connection III by screenwriter David Shaber at Twentieth Century Fox, with Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle teamed up with a wisecracking cop (possibly played by Richard Pryor). When Hackman was reluctant to make a third film as Doyle, the idea was scrapped; Universal acquired the rights to the storyline, which Shaber reworked into Nighthawks. Nighthawks received positive reviews, including one from Variety.The film recovered its $5-million budget worldwide, grossing $14.9 million in North America and $5 million abroad.