' ' Cinema Romantico: Forgotten Great Moments in Movie History

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Forgotten Great Moments in Movie History

When I revisited “The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)”, I was surprised to recall how the plot of such a ludicrous movie turned on something as relevant as clean energy. In this case, the chief villains represented atomic, coal and oil energy, all determined to stop renewable energy before it can get started. That’s not me Reading Too Much Into It; that’s right there on the surface; that’s right there in the text. In one of the multitudinous hilarious moments, the movie’s John Sununu introduces a few energy suppliers at a White House dinner, like Terrence Baggett, “head of the Society of Petroleum Industry Leaders, better known as SPIL.”

That the series’ chief character, Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) of Police Squad, was a buffoon did not really have anything to do with his being a cop. He had to be a buffoon because that’s what made the jokes work. Still, dig just a little deeper and you find some comically serious shots across the bow, a movie that in its way takes a stronger stand for police reform than ostensible dramas, darkly lampooning rather than just mindlessly lionizing. At that same White House Dinner, in fact, Lt. Drebin is honored by the Washington D.C. Police Commissioner (Jacqueline Brooks) for his 1,000th drug dealer killed. “In all honesty,” he says, “the last two I backed over with my car. Luckily, they turned out to be drug dealers.” It echoes a moment from the first movie in the series, from 1988, when Drebin is briefly relieved of his position. “Just think,” Drebin says in a sorely disappointed tone, “next time I shoot someone, I could be arrested.”

I thought of Frank Drebin the other day when video of Moundsville, West Virginia (population: 9, 318) rolled out a $1m armored tank. After all, when Police Squad and an accompanying SWAT team has surrounded the house where Hector Savage (Anthony James) is making his last stand, Frank climbs into a SWAT tank. “You can’t drive that!” Captain Ed Hocken (George Kennedy) implores. “You’re not checked out on it!” Frank drives it anyway, plowing through the house and then the back wall and, eventually the zoo, freeing the animals who wreak havoc on Washington D.C., making a mess of everything. “Do you realize,” the Police Commissioner asks Frank later that night, “that because of you this city is overrun by baboons?” “Isn’t that the fault of the voters?” Frank asks.

Eh, sometimes.

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