Yes, this is another of those. Before there was The Naked Gun, there was Kentucky Fried Movie. It was the beginning of the foolish-film careers of “David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, who went on to write and direct Airplane!, Top Secret!, and the Police Squad! television series and its film spin-offs, The Naked Gun films.” It’s from 1977, directed by John Landis, and a production of KFM Films.
Forget the plot. There isn’t one. It’s an anthology of video skits featuring sight gags, bald irreverence, and massive political incorrectness. Through it all, the art of comedy never goes astray. Illustrating, the film opens with this shot, and finishes up with it, bringing viewers full circle and a sense of closure. The thread that runs through is late night television, and the various skits are presented as offshoots of news commentary, previews of coming attractions, and feature presentations.
Let’s start with a skit poking some fun at astrology:
The show’s astrologer reminds us that astrology is meant to support people who can’t take responsibility for their own lives.
The commentator leads up to the punchline by giving ridiculous advice to Libras, Virgos, and Pisces, finishing up with, “And if you’re a Gemini, like me, you can expect the unexpected.” She takes an arrow to the gut. Now, that’s funny.
Coming Attractions features Catholic High School Girls in Trouble. There never was any such movie, but I have seen fit in the past to use the line to highlight an absurdity.
The movie is supposed to be about all the trouble that can happen when Catholic high school girls stay out past curfew, and you won’t believe how much trouble there can be. There is humor in pun, as well. Here is a scene “introducing Susan Joyce and Nancy Reed.” The girl in the middle never does get introduced.
The “Feature Presentation” is a Kung Fu parody that generates comedy out of absurdity. When the kung fu master infiltrates Dr. Klahn’s mountain fortress to destroy his operation, he delivers a deadly kick to the master control panel. Immediately an alarm goes “ah-ah-ah-ah…” Switch to a view in the corridor, and the alarm is revealed to be a guy in a funny suit shouting into a megaphone, “ah-ah-ah-ah…” I’m telling you—funny.
The kung fu master is captured and Dr. Kahn shows him around. In the dungeon are various cells. The dialogue leaves you gasping for breath:
Who are they?
Refuse, found in waterfront bars.
Just lost, drunken men, who don’t know where they are and no longer care.
These are lost, drunken men, who don’t know where they, but do care. And these are men who know where they are, and care—but don’t drink.
One of the men declares that he doesn’t care, and he doesn’t drink. Dr. Kahn orders the guard to put him in cell number one. And give him a drink.
Naturally, there is a kung fu square-off, and the master wins, ultimately defeating Dr. Kahn and his flame-throwing hand prosthesis by throwing water on him. Naturally, Dr. Kahn cries out that he’s melting, and he shrinks down to a heap on the floor. The kung fu master’s handler arrives and telsl him he can return home anytime by clicking his heels three times and saying, “There’s no place like home.” A clip from The Wizard of Oz illustrates.
More disaster strikes. An artful ploy in comedy is to come back to a previous gag, and this skit, featuring a disaster movie, shows the governor dealing with catastrophe on top of catastrophe, when an arrow comes from out of nowhere.
Sex and comedy do mix. A couple consider getting it on hot and heavy on the couch, but she suggests turning on the TV first. Big mistake. As matters get physical the news announcer realizes he can see back through the TV set into the living room. Soon the news staff are crowded around the camera watching the drama on the couch and muddling through the news.
And the movie ends where it started. “I’m not wearing any pants. Details at 11.”
This movie is definitely a two-bagger. Popcorn, that is.
It features some solid talent in cameo, including “George Lazenby, Bill Bixby, Henry Gibson, Barry Dennen, Donald Sutherland, Tony Dow, Stephen Bishop, and the voice of Shadoe Stevens.” It opens and closes with Carioca, music by Vincent Youmans, with lyrics by Gus Kahn and Edward Eliscu, performed by Jo Stafford (as Darlene Edwards) with Paul Weston on piano (as Jonathan Edwards) [from IMDB]. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vdK_Mpexj8.
It cost $650,000 to make and grossed $7.1 million on the American market.