On paper, it sounded like a terrible idea — a feature-length version of a 1982 TV series whose ratings were so low it was cancelled after six episodes. Yet somehow The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad! went on to become a surprise comedy smash in 1988, spawning the subsequent sequels The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. Although Leslie Nielsen died in 2010, reboot rumors have popped up from time to time. Can any new installments possibly live up to the legacy of their predecessors? While you mull that over, here’s a look back at the best quotes from the first Naked Gun installment.
“And the rockets red glare….buncha bombs in the air…came proof to the night that we still had a flag.” – Frank Drebin
He’s no Roseanne Barr (timely!), but Leslie Nielsen did give us cinema’s most memorable take on “The Star Spangled Banner.” Which brings to mind the question, if America is the greatest country in the world, and you bet your Git ‘R Done hat it is, how come we don’t have a national anthem that is easier to sing? Maybe add a guitar solo, or perhaps a rap interlude?
“Nice Beaver.” – Frank Drebin
“Thank you. I just had it stuffed.” – Jane Spencer
Like Billy Dee Williams schilling Colt .45, a carefully crafted beaver as euphemism for lady parts joke works every time. See also the “Father Loves Beaver” scene from Scrooged for another example of this under-appreciated comedic phenomenon. This is arguably the most quoted line from the film.
“The attempt on Nordberg’s life left me shaken and disturbed, and all the questions kept coming up over and over again, like bubbles in a case of club soda. Who was this character in the hospital? And why was he trying to kill Nordberg? And for whom? Did Ludwig lie to me? I didn’t have any proof, but somehow, I didn’t entirely trust him either. Why was the ‘I Luv You’ not listed in Ludwig’s records? And if it was, did he know about it? And if he didn’t, who did? And where the hell was I?” – Frank Drebin
Part of the reason that The Naked Gun resonated with audiences is Leslie Nielsen’s ability to play the absurdity of his Frank Drebin character straight. That factor combined with noireish touches like the ones featured in the above just add to the appeal.
“Oh Frank, everyone should have a friend like you!” – Jane Spencer
“Poor Nordberg” said no one after 1994.
“Hey! It’s Enrico Pallazzo!” – Spectator
Sorry Smiths fans, the queen is alive and Frank Drebin is responsible… even if he didn’t get any of the credit. And speaking of credit, it’s worth mentioning that the actor who says the above quote is none other than Francis from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Mark Holton, who, in one of the film’s more subtle gags, is billed as “It’s Enrico Pallazzo!” The more you know! (Flies away into the cosmos on a giant star).
“I want you to know, I practice safe sex.” – Jane Spencer
“So do I.” – Frank Drebin
More than just an uproarious comedy, The Naked Gun is a film that has a social conscience given that the film was created against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis. Thus, we have this scene in which Frank and Jane get it on in the safest way possible. You may think that this is hysterical, but if you are a germaphobe who would actually love to don one of these full-body jimmy hats while doing the dirty, the struggle is real.
“Nothing to see here. Please disperse.” – Frank Drebin
Something tells me that this scene blew the film’s entire special effects budget.
“It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.” – Frank Drebin
“Goodyear?” – Jane Spencer
“No, the worst.” – Frank Drebin
If you can overlook the absurd dialogue of the film, The Naked Gun actually owes a huge debt to the snappy repartee of screwball comedies. In its own twisted way, the movie is as much His Girl Friday as it is Airplane!, (also from the creative team of Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker) which is best exemplified by the above exchange.
“A good cop, needlessly cut down and ambushed by some cowardly hoodlum. ” – Frank Drebin
“That’s no way for a man to die.” – Ed Hocken
“Ah, you’re right, Ed. A parachute not opening… that’s a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine… having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that’s the way I wanna go!” – Frank Drebin
For the Naked Gun films, George Kennedy took over the role of Ed Hocken from Alan North, who played the character on the Police Squad! TV series. This was not the only change for the big screen, as Peter Lupus originated the role of Norberg when the show debuted in 1982. In the movie, Norberg was played by OJ Simpson, and we all know all that turned out.
“Can I interest you in a nightcap?” – Jane Spencer
“No thank you, I don’t wear them.” – Frank Drebin
You know as we share a voyage on the Good Ship Life, we’d all be lucky to find ourselves partnered with a Frank or a Jane. Sure, you’d have to deal with constant non-sequiturs and every now and again Ricardo Montalban would try to kill you, but otherwise it would be a good life. Relationship goals, amirite?
This is an updated version of an article that orginally ran in July of 2015.