I have to admit I never saw this before. It spawned a pair of sequels, and I caught one of those on TV. This one is viewable for free on Amazon Prime. Details are from Wikipedia. It’s The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! from 1988 and released by Columbia Pictures. This is one of those projects that started out with some people with $12 million to spare and the urge to make a movie. Attempts at humor are apparent.
Leslie Nielsen is Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Frank Drebin. There are others. In the beginning, even before the titles, we see peaceful downtown Beirut, where America’s most jacked-up enemies are convening to decide how best to stick a finger in the eye. Astute, and others less, students of history are quick to spot such notables as Idi Amin Dada, Yasser Arafat, Muammar Gaddafi, and Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini. You know what? Fidel Castro may be in this picture, as well. This was nearly 30 years ago and only Castro (just barely) of those remain alive.
This hate fest is broken up, with Lieutenant Drebin emerging from disguise as a waiter and putting the kibosh on this love fest. He finishes with His Holiness Khomeini using the standard martial arts move of pulling his jacket down around his arms and punching him in the chops. Then it’s back to L.A.
Yes, it’s going to be one of those movies. Roll the titles. The camera follows a gum ball machine as a police car, siren blasting, weaves through traffic. Around and between cars. Then on the sidewalk. Then inside a bar. And a womens locker room, even the shower. Finally plunging down the course of a roller coaster. It’s a Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker production.
Meanwhile, Drebin’s sidekick, Police Detective Nordberg, is doing some police work on his own. He tracks some drug traffickers onto a boat moored along the waterfront, and busts in to make the bust. He’s played by O.J. Simpson, back when he was funny.
No good. The crooks hear Nordberg trying to break down the door, and have their guns trained on him when he finally shows up. He takes a few rounds plus some pratfalls, including falling face down in a cake before tumbling into the bay. Recovered floating in the water, Detective Nordberg is taken to the hospital, where he is only able to give a few clues
And that’s all I’m going to tell about the plot, which is a stick frame to hang a bunch of comic skits on, and they come in fair succession. Drebin is directed toward crime boss Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán), who also has the job of managing the visit of Queen Elizabeth II of England (Jeannette Charles) to the fair city of Los Angeles. Drebin suspects a plot to kill the Queen.
To put him off the trail, Ludwig sets his bountiful assistant Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley) to monitor Drebin’s activities. Things turn sexual.
Things turn chaotic, as Ludwig’s plot turns to loosing a hypnotized doctor to kill Nordberg. When the plot fails a wild chase ensues, ending up with the doctor riding atop a missile and crashing into a fireworks warehouse. He survives. This is comedy, after all.
Drebin’s ploy to unravel the assassination plot at the Queen’s reception erupts into a wild melee that leaves Drebin atop the Queen on the banquet table. Most embarrassing, and most amusing.
The trail leads to a baseball game, which the Queen is attending, between the California Angels and the Seattle Mariners. Drebin attempts multiple disguises to get onto the field and figure out which player is going to be hypnotized to kill the Queen. He ends up as an umpire, variously groping each player in turn, searching for the murder weapon. Come the onset of the seventh inning stretch, the signal for the dastardly deed, and there is one player who has not been searched. It’s Jackson, number 44. And we say, “Number 44 Jackson! Isn’t that Reggie Jackson?”
Yes it is. And we see Jackson, playing himself, staring into space and pulling a pistol from under third base and marching toward the royal box.
Drebin is able to thwart the attempt on the Queen, and Ludwig takes a tumble from the stands into the parking lot, where his body is run over first by a bus, then by a pavement roller, and finally by a marching band.
To add a final bit of humor, Ludwig shows up at the game, out of the hospital, in a wheelchair, and swathed in bandages. We see him last, wheelchair and all, tumbling down the steps from the upper row of the stands. It’s all very humorous.
It’s difficult to forget Neilsen as Commander John J. Adams in Forbidden Planet. I need to review that next. The production company went on to make two more of the Naked Gun series, finishing up in 1994. I will not promise to review these. By 1994 Simpson was in jail on murder charges, but only after he appeared in Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult.