One of the funniest film trilogies of all time (not counting the Star Wars prequels) is celebrating a special anniversary today–with The Naked Gun: From the Files of POLICE SQUAD! having debuted in theaters on December 2nd, 1988. It was, of course, the first of the three Naked Gun movies starring the late Leslie Nielsen as the bumbling police legend Lt. Frank Drebin.
The film was directed by the acclaimed comedy team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker who also wrote and directed such classic films as The Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane! and Top Secret! The movie came from a short-lived TV series called Police Squad! that utilized their famous comedy formula formula of non-sequitur gags and oddball jokes to parody more conventional and serious movie series. It famously only lasted six episodes because an ABC executive said “the viewer had to watch it to appreciate it,” which is like saying that a baseball team had to release a player because they didn’t realize they had to play when they showed up for the game. Actually, that’s not as funny as it sounded in our heads because of the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez. Thanks, A-Rod!
Hollywood wanted to do a fourth Naked Gun movie but it never came to fruition, according to the comedy blog Splitsider. Comedy writer and Sledge Hammer! creator Alan Spencer was tapped to write the script for The Naked Gun: What 4? The Rhythm of Evil in 2009, a film that was destined for the direct-to-DVD crowd–and something that Spencer says he only signed on to do as a “rescue mission” to keep it from becoming an inferior sequel. Paramount executives, however, wanted to reduce Nielsen’s role until he was completely removed from the picture. Spencer walked off the project in protest and the movie died on the vine. It’s probably all for the best. Surely, the TV series and the first three movies have been able to stand the test of time all by themselves. And don’t call us..oh, wait. Wrong comedy classic. Sorry.