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The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is a 1988 comedy film, the first in a series of films starring Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy, and O. J. Simpson. The three films (the other two being The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, and Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult) chronicle the adventures of Nielsen's character, the bumbling police Lieutenant Frank Drebin.

The film's title parodies The Nude Bomb, another film spun-off from a satirical TV series (Get Smart), but could be interpreted as a general "sex and violence" cliché that is usually expected from a Hollywood film of the era. The film was marketed with the tagline, "You've read the ad, now see the movie!"

The film series is based on the character created by Nielsen in the television series Police Squad!. The core creative team behind Police Squad! and the movie series includes the team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker as well as Pat Proft in varying combinations.

The films feature fast-paced slapstick comedy, including a lot of visual and verbal puns and gags.

Plot

The plot of the series is a basic parody of detective film clichés, featuring stereotypical characters, settings, and situations. Many other film genres and styles are mocked as well, and the movies are full of references to current events and contemporary pop culture.

The movie starts in a meeting in Beirutmarker with a collection of anti-American leaders: Ayatollah Khomeini, Mikhail Gorbachev (who claims he has the Americans believing he is "a nice guy"), Yasser Arafat, Muammar al-Gaddafi and Idi Amin, who are planning a terrorist act against the US. The man who is later shown to be Pahpshmir is seen at this meeting. It turns out that Frank Drebin has been posing undercover as a waiter; he beats up all the attendees, wipes off Gorbachev's forehead birthmark ("I knew it!!!"), then knocks the turban off the Ayatollah, to which a mortified Khomeini is shown to have an orange mohawk underneath. Drebin then defiantly tells them all that they will never attack America as long as he is on the job.

Back in Los Angelesmarker, Officer Nordberg unsuccessfully attempts to bust a heroin drug operation at the docks organized by Vincent Ludwig, and is shot numerous times by Ludwig's goons but, before falling off into the sea, suffers additional injuries like being hit on the back of his head on an iron pipe, burning his left hand on a coal oven, and having a window falling shut on his right hand (it is a running gag that Nordberg keeps getting badly injured, but somehow manages to survive). After being briefed on the case by his colleague Captain Ed Hocken, Frank visits Nordberg in hospital, but the near-comatose Nordberg can provide only a few cryptic clues, including a picture of the ship on which the deal had been organized—and the ship belongs to Vincent Ludwig.

Frank then meets with wacky police scientist Ted, a parody of James Bond's Q. Ted invents things such as a wall that is able to defend itself from tagging, to which a street gang is then shown attempting to spray paint the wall, only to have cannons of spray paint activate towards them, sending them running off screaming. Ted has invented a cufflink that shoots out a tiny dart which renders the victim into a temporary sleep, promptly testing it on Hocken.

Pahpshmir is seen meeting with Vincent Ludwig, a businessman who has terrorist connections, where Ludwig says that he will assassinate Queen Elizabeth II (who is on a state visit to the USA) for $20 million. Ludwig demonstrates that he has a way of turning anyone into an unknowing assassin at the press of Ludwig's beeper; it appears that the victims are responding to a post-hypnotic suggestion (repeating "I must kill [name of the target]" and trying to do so even with ineffective weapons, in a very automatized way).

Drebin visits Ludwig in his office (thereby causing some minor chaos) and inadvertently lets slip the information that Nordberg is still alive. Ed gives Frank 24 hours to clear Nordberg as a result. Later on another attempt is made on Nordberg's life. Frank chases the assassin (a hypnotized doctor) in a commandeered car operated by a panicked student driver and her unflappable instructor (John Houseman), until the luckless assassin crashes the car into (in succession) a gasoline truck, a US Army truck carrying a missile, and- with the missile in tow- a fireworks factory, which presumably eliminates the assassin.

As he works on the case, Drebin meets and falls in love with Ludwig's assistant Jane Spencer. It is eventually revealed that Jane knows nothing about Ludwig's plot, and after the pair spend the night together, she helps Frank with his investigation. However, things go awry as Frank breaks into Ludwig's office to get information. He ends up setting a fire, destroying most of Ludwig's property. Then, to make things worse, he ends up causing more trouble at a reception for the Queen. When Ludwig presents the Queen with a Revolutionary War-era musket as a gift, Frank (delirious from the horns trumpeting the Queen's arrvial) dives at the Queen sending them sliding across the table. He is then removed from the force.

The climax of the film centers on the Queen's visit to a California Angels baseball game. Frank must find out how Ludwig plans to assassinate her- he is told by Jane one of the players is going to do it- while hiding from his fellow policemen, who are now under orders to arrest him (although Police Squad is in his corner).

Frank decides to go undercover, first knocking out "renowned opera singer" Enrico Pallazzo (obvious parody of Luciano Pavarotti), taking his clothes and proceeding to brutally mangle the national anthem, along with Pallazzo's reputation. Frank then knocks out the home plate umpire with a bat while walking back through the tunnel and begins calling the game, while at the same time frisking players for weapons. Having been informed that the assassination will take place during the seventh inning stretch, Frank proceeds as a normal umpire would while talking with Ed about not being able to find the assassin in between innings. With two outs in the top of the seventh, realizing he's running out of time, Frank goes to great lengths to delay the game, ultimately resorting to interfering with the play to the ire of the Angels' manager and the umpires.

The scoreboard operator overrules Frank's last call in the top of the seventh, finally ending the half-inning. Ludwig triggers the beeper, with Angels outfielder Reggie Jackson responding ("I must kill... the Queen."). Jane alerts Frank, who chases after Jackson. He catches him and tackles him, inadvertently triggering a bench-clearing brawl between the Angels and their opponent, the Seattle Mariners, as every single player piles up on top of one another. Meanwhile, Ludwig takes Jane to the top of the stadium at gunpoint.

During the brawl, Reggie Jackson emerges from the pile, rather unscathed, and points the gun at the Queen. Frank fires one of Ted's cufflink darts to try and hit him, but instead hits a fat woman in the upper mezzanine. However bumbling, Frank still manages to save the Queen's life, because the dazed fat woman falls on top of Jackson, crushing him.

The audience is amazed at Frank's heroism although they do not know who he is. He reveals himself, but only the mayor and Ed know who he is (the rest of the crowd assumes he's still Enrico Pallazzo and chant his name as such). Frank then moves through the crowd to the top of the stadium, where Jane is being held hostage. Frank shoots Ludwig with the other cufflink dart, causing him to stagger and fall several stories over the stadium's railing. The USC marching band performing "Louie, Louie" then tromps over his steamroller-flattened body, pressing the beeper, which makes Jane try to kill Frank with Ludwig's gun. Frank uses reverse psychology to try and break Jane's hypnotized state, by saying that if he cannot be with her he may as well be murdered, and gives her an engagement ring, after which Jane is freed from Ludwig's assassination hypnosis and then embraces him and accepts his marriage proposal. His speech is broadcast on the stadium screen, causing the teams to stop fighting and make up, as well as cause the everyone in the stadium, including the players from both teams, quarrelling wives and husbands, Palestinians and Israelismarker, Curt Gowdy and Jim Palmer, and a mailman and a dog, to all hug each other. The mayor thanks Frank, saying the whole world owes him a debt of gratitude, and he is congratulated by Nordberg. The latter, while still wheelchair-bound, seems much better until Frank pats him on the back, sending him zooming down the aisle and up over the railing of the stadium's upper deck as the movie ends.

Cast



In addition to the aforementioned cast, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! co-stars Jeannette Charles and Nancy Marchand. "Weird Al" Yankovic, Joe Grifasi, Lawrence Tierney, John Houseman (his last film), and Mark Holton have cameo roles.

Major League Baseball players Reggie Jackson and Jay Johnstone have cameo roles as themselves, as do umpires Joe West and Hank Robinson. Professional announcers Curt Gowdy, Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg and Dick Vitale appear as play-by-play commentators, as does Dr. Joyce Brothers.

Production

The film was shot at various locations in and around Los Angeles, Californiamarker. The Queen's reception was filmed at the Ambassador Hotelmarker, which closed almost exactly a month after this film opened, so this may have been the last film to feature scenes at the Hotel while it was still in business. The Ambassador is noteworthy for having been the location where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Although the film's climax takes place at a California Angels home game, the baseball scenes were filmed in Los Angeles, at Dodger Stadiummarker.

Reception

In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted the first Naked Gun the 39th greatest comedy film of all time. It was voted the 14th best comedy of all time in a Channel 4 poll. It currently holds an 89% "Fresh" rating on movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 35 reviews.

Cultural references

Police Squad

  • In one scene, the mayor refers to Frank's police department as "Police Squad, a special division of the police force".
  • The television show had a character named Detective Norberg, a Caucasian, portrayed by Peter Lupus. The film replaces him with Detective Nordberg, played by an African-American (O. J. Simpson). Captain Ed Hocken retains the same name, though he is played by a different actor in the film.


Film spoofs

  • The plot is mostly based on the 1977 Charles Bronson movie Telefon, including a word-for-word copy of the scene in which the assassination method is revealed.
  • When Frank and Ed are scolded by the mayor for destroying Ludwig's office, Frank's line about him shooting apparent murderers (who have turned out to be actors) closely parodies lines by Clint Eastwood's character in Dirty Harry.
  • Ludwig's enraged rant against Drebin ("I want him dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burned to the ground! " etc.) comes word-for-word from Al Capone's tirade against Eliot Ness in The Untouchables. Note that this scene is present only in the Director's Cut and was not shown in the theatrical release.
  • Frank's introduction to Jane, especially the voice-over, is lifted from the 1975 version of Farewell, My Lovely - right up to where she hits the wall.
  • Frank's speech (and proposal) to Jane parodies Casablanca a number of times, most obviously the lines including "a hill of beans."
  • The airport scene mirrors the beginning of Jean Renoir's Rules of the game, especially in terms of what is discussed between Frank and Ed (the former has just returned from a trip where he has achieved a great feat, but is saddened that his love is not there to greet him).
  • Frank tells Jane "That's a honey of an ankle bracelet you're wearing," a spoof of a line from the film Double Indemnity.
  • The scene where the Frank foils an assassination attempt in the hospital is a reference to a similar scene in The Godfather, including the dialogue about the disappearance of the guards at the door.


Movie references

  • The 2005 "PTV" episode of Family Guy quotes from the Naked Gun films, namely the first scene in the first Naked Gun film in which Drebin spies on a terrorist meeting and starts a brawl. In the Family Guy version, Stewie Griffin spies on Osama bin Laden's terrorist meeting; the scene, in which Stewie attacks the terrorists, is accompanied by the overture "Drebin - Hero!", from the first and second Naked Gun films' pre-credit sequences. It goes on to mimic lines of dialogue and camera angles from the film, including a moment where Stewie tells the terrorists, "Don't ever let me catch you in Quahog" before he falls backwards out of a cave window. The episode continues quoting the opening sequence of the film series, in which a police car (in this case, Stewie on his tricycle) goes through unusual areas like a gay pride parade, Oz, Hoth, and even the video game Doom, before finally ending up running over Homer Simpson on his way into the Griffins' garage.
  • The 2007 "Boys Do Cry" episode of Family Guy parodies the Naked Gun films. Stewie is dressed as a girl in a beauty contest in Texas. After winning the competition, Stewie bows his head and his wig falls off. One audience member says, "It's not a girl". Then, another member of the audience points and says, "Hey, it's Enrico Pallazzo," a reference to the scene near the end of the movie when one of the baseball fans recognizes Drebin as the singer who performed the national anthem.
  • The Simpsons episode "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily" spoofs the death of Ricardo Montalbán's character, when Maude Flanders is knocked over a guard-rail of a stadium and falls into the parking lot. In the episode "Cape Feare", Sideshow Bob is run over by a marching band and elephants in a similar fashion.


References

  1. Life Of Brian 'top comedy film' - Film and tv - Entertainment - Manchester Evening News


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