Nielsen Spots Presley's Beaver
Back in the late 80s when "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!", to give it it's full name, came out I had never seen "Police Squad" and had no idea what it was about. But then it really didn't matter because "The Naked Gun" came from the collective talents of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker the same guys who gave us the utterly hilarious "Airplane!" and as such is another riot of spoof laughs and cop chaos.
Having returned from an undercover mission to Beirut inept Detective Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen - The Poseidon Adventure) finds himself trying to get to the bottom of who tried to kill his former partner and best friend Nordberg (O.J. Simpson - The Cassandra Crossing). But at the same time he finds himself also leading a special force to protect the Queen on her visit which becomes urgent when he discovers that businessman Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban - The Train Robbers) has plans to assassinate the Queen using a brain washed baseball player.
Whilst "The Naked Gun" does have a storyline it sort of doesn't matter because it is a movie which you are constantly waiting for the next laugh, the next set piece scene, the next moment of hilarious dialogue and as such you almost pay no attention to the storyline. Which is probably a good thing because being essentially a spoof movie, poking fun at the whole cop genre the storyline is frankly quite basic. We have Detective Frank Drebin of the special agency Police Squad in the thick of things as he not only tries to discover who tried to kill his best friend and one time partner Nordberg but also try to stop an assassination attempt on the Queen. It's daft and intentionally so because it throws up a whole list of gags that are thrown at you, loosely tied into the storyline and many which aren't.
It is the onslaught of comedy which makes "The Naked Gun" work from the opening scenes which sees Frank Drebin in Beirut kicking the butt of numerous terrorist leaders, those which were prominent in the 80s, through to the most seemingly trivial scenes such as the now classic library scene where he proclaims "Nice Beaver". It is one of those movies which never lets up and the list of gags is almost endless, in fact there are so many priceless moments and hilarious scenes that you just can't take them all in, in just one viewing. Many of the gags work by spoofing other cop shows but at the same time there are just gags thrown in because they are funny, the toilet scene with the radio mic is a prime example, it has no real relation to the storyline but it is so funny that it stays with you long after the movie has finished.
But of course gags can fall flat if they are not expertly delivered and Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin is perfect, he is what makes "The Naked Gun" so funny. From his comic timing, dead pan delivery of wonderfully funny dialogue and a sense for the visual which is sublime he just brings it all together never once taking himself in the least bit seriously.
Alongside Leslie Nielsen are Priscilla Presley playing it slightly dumb as love interest Jane Spencer yet providing plenty of laughs, O.J. Simpson rather ironically playing Nordberg an under cover detective, Ricardo Montalban as bad guy Vincent Ludwig and of course the wonderful George Kennedy as Drebin's partner Ed Hocken.
What this all boils down to is that "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" is a riot of comedy right up there in the same league as "Airplane!" and remains the best of the three "The Naked Gun" movies. Whilst the story is daft and the comedy is often dafter it is also strangely inspired making the most simple of thing funny. Between the writing of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker and the comic timing of Leslie Nielsen it is still as funny now over 20 years since its release.