"The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad"
"The Naked Gun Trilogy Disc 1"
Soundtrack Album Review Part 1
Music By Ira Newborn
La-La Land Records
29 Tracks/Disc Time: 59:47
Grade: A- (BEST OF 2014)
Back in 1980, the comedy directing and writing team of Jerry Zucker, David Zucker and Jim Abrahams were coming off the success of hilarious and underrated "Kentucky Fried Movie" working with Director John Landis until the biggest surprise happend, "Airplane!" which was released during that Summer to become one of the years' biggest hits but also one of the greatest comedies ever made according to the American Film Institute. Due to their success on the film, they pooled their resources into what would be a great reviewed and hilarious comedy series on ABC that only lasted six episodes which would feature a scene stealing Leslie Nielsen from "Airplane!". "Police Squad" was a spoof of all of those cop buddy shows that were running rampid from late 60's to early 80's which starred Nielsen as the goofy and somewhat inept Lt. Frank Drebin who with his partner (Alan North) would solve crimes all throughout Los Angeles despite how silly and bizzare they were. ABC pulled the plug as they did with many series in during that time including "Bosom Buddies" starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scorlari after two seasons, "Working Stiffs" featuring the debuts of both Michael Keaton and Jim Belushi and many other shows.
After scoring some success with the hilarious WW2 spoof "Top Secret!" starring Val Kilmer, the troupe would go back to "Police Squad" to revive it as a film with Nielsen returning to reprise his now famous character. The film has Drebin partnered with George Kennedy this time around, investigating the attempted murder of fellow detective Nordberg by the a ruthless businessman VIncent Ludwig (the late Ricardo Montalban, "Fantasy Island" who is the perfect foil as he matches wits perfectly with Nielsen) who is involved with a shady businessman Papshmir (Raye Birk). During his investigation, he meets the object of his affection in Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley) and future Mrs. Frank Drebin, while he learns of a plot by Ludwig to assassinate the Queen of England during her trip to Los Angeles during a baseball game which ensues in some of the most hilarious scenes seen in a comedy. The film was a blockbuster hit during the Christmas season of 1988 and would go on to spawn a trilogy that would end in 1994.
Along for this fun ride and has been since the television series is Composer Ira Newborn, who scored the original “Police Squad” episodes and creating a very memorable main theme. Newborn would go on the score John Hughes’ hit films “Sixteen Candles”, “Weird Science”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles and “Uncle Buck”. Newborn would re-team with The Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams for a reunion for “The Naked Gun” providing one of the 80’s best comedy scores as well his chance to really shine using a wonderful big band approach to this comedy score that truly stands out as a masterpiece of how to score a comedy film. Filled with themes and alot of rousing material, Newborn really established himself as one of the best in the business when it came to the genre.
From it's heoric opening "Drebin The Hero" which would become one of the series' most iconic themes with a triumphant fanfare that is almost patriotic in nature and rousing as his music in the big screen adaptation of "Dragnet". The secondary theme is that of the unforgettable "Main Title", a wonderful big band number that soars and brims which musical cheerful abandon over each of the films' comic openings from the point of view of what would be a police squad car. Newborn sets up a villainous slithery theme for Ricardo Montalban's character established early on with keyboards and synthesizers in "Dock Of The Nordberg/Murder By Cake" and followed by some mock suspense and slapstick comedy emphasized by strings and brass. Most of the score really features a fun and breezy jazz that is cocktail in nature and pure coolness highlighted in the tracks "Drebin Takes A Snoop/Drive To Ludwig's", and also establishes a sexy vamp jazz theme for Priscilla Presley's character highlighted in "Our Miss Spencer/Air Bag Drebin"and would play out in a nice little suite in "A Lonely Drebin", "Drebin Acrobat/Meet Miss Spencer" and "The Seduction", which is really romantic and is the love theme for our hero and features Newborn as his best as well as bluesy jazz that Newborn really could've written a jazz album using this material in my opinion. There is plenty of action and suspense music to be had here to give balance to the score as well featured in the tracks "Sting/Beeper Mom/Anyone Can Be An Assassin", "Beeper Doc/The Exciting Chase", ""Third Out Beep, Beep, Beep/Frank, Frank, Frank", and "I Must Kill Frank", which starts out with the recurring "assassin theme" and then back to the love theme for Frank and Jane established in "The Seduction". Peter Noone's cheerful "Into Something Good" which is has a bit of a Beach Boys sound to it and plays during a fun little montage during the film as Frank and Jane fall in love together, wraps up this delightful album as does the film.
La-La Land's latest release which features all three complete scores from the films for the first time ever after being released in a brief CD featuring music from the first two films by Varese Sarabande in 1991. This is a wonderful package of CD's that really were a long time in coming for a series of films that really are still some of the well written and feature some hilarious gags and Nielsen became a comedy legend because of it. Twenty years later, "The Naked Gun" films still hold their own with the best of them. Ira Newborn's music is still a classic and really deserves even more attention now as it did back then. A terrific release! Thumbs way way up!