The Naked Gun
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
One of the funniest shows to ever air on television premiered on the ABC network in March 1982. Police Squad, starring Leslie Nielsen, was a spoof on police dramas like Dragnet and Hill Street Blues. It was praised by both fans and critics at the time, but the network cancelled the show after only six episodes. According to Mr. Neilsen, the network president told him that the show was taken off the air because "the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it". TV Guide called this "the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series", and I couldn't agree more.
Six years after Police Squad was cancelled, the series was adapted into a feature film called The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad. It grossed over $78 million domestically and over $152 million worldwide on an estimated budget of $12, and it birthed a trilogy of films that have grossed nearly a half billion dollars globally.
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This is another bucket list screening for me. The Naked Gun was in its original theatrical run when I was eight years old, and there was no way that my family was going to take me out to see a movie with the word "naked" in the title. It was rated PG, so I was able to rent it on VHS a couple of years later. I was probably around ten years old the first time I saw it and I thought it was one of the funniest movies that I ever watched.
Three and a half decades have not changed my reaction to this film one bit, and judging by the reaction of the other folks on the lot, I am not alone. This is a hysterically funny movie! Leslie Nielsen's deadpan delivery and facial expressions are second to none. Nancy Marchand is also brilliant in this film. She's probably best known today for her role as Tony's mother in The Sopranos. She plays the mayor in The Naked Gun, and her reactions to and scoldings of Frank Drebin are flawless. I almost titled this post "Sexual Assault With A Concrete Dildo" after a line from the movie where she's listing all of the charges that Lt. Drebin has been charged with as a result of his investigation of Vincent Ludwig, but I'm guessing that would attract an audience that I'm not seeking out.
This screening also represented the return to the Mahoning screen of our old VHS Fest pal, Mr. Nasty. In addition to filming direct-to-video insult tapes, Larry Pines had a few small roles in television shows and movies. He played one of the drug dealers that shoot OJ Simpson at the beginning of The Naked Gun. I'm guessing the residual checks came in for that one.