O.K. here is number three in our tribute to Producer Don Simpson: Beverly Hills Cop (1984). I don’t feel like as much of a sellout as I did for the Top Gun review.

19 Dec

As you know from our last review, here at JPFmovies we felt some shame because we thought that we were selling out to the “Movie Man.”  Well, with Beverly Hills Cop, we are much more comfortable reviewing this film and are not feeling like JPFmovies has sold out. 


Beverly Hills Cop, though madly popular, did not have the same impact on the viewing public that Top Gun did.  RayBan did not realize a 40% spike in its sales, general fashion was not swayed nor were people lining up to enroll in police academies across the country.  That said, Beverly Hills Cop is a materially superior film that propelled a young Eddie Murphy onto the world stage. 


Beverly Hills Cop was the second wildly successful film for the Simpson/Bruckheimer team in as many years.  The duo produced and released Flashdance in 1983, grossing over $100,000,000—and that is 1983 dollars.  The next year Beverly Hills Cop reached the silver screen and earned Paramount Studios $234,000,000 courtesy of Simpson/Bruckheimer—again that is in 1984 dollars. Using the CPI and adjusting for inflation we are looking at a figure in the range of $500,000,000 today.  


Beverly Hills Cop is a comedy-action film directed by Martin Brest and starring Eddie Murphy, Lisa Eilbacher, John Ashton, Judge Reinhold, and Ronny Cox.  Murphy plays Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit police officer who winds up in Beverly Hills trying to solve the murder of his best friend.  Foley is a young, talented, but reckless reformed juvenile delinquent turned Detroit cop.  I would like to point out here again the American theme of the individual who is talented enough in getting the job done that they can operate outside of the social norms—but more on that later. 


After getting smashed with his best friend from childhood (who is not exactly honest) the two are beat by hired goons who are looking for some German bearer bonds.  Not surprisingly, Foley’s friend is shot and killed by the goons, but when Foley tries to investigate the crime, he is denied the opportunity because of his close personal ties with the victim.  Operating under the guise of taking some vacation time, Foley heads to Beverly Hills where his friend was working when he lifted the bonds.  When he arrives in California, there are clashes between the prim, proper and rule following Beverly Hills police with the unorthodox, rule flaunting and down and dirty (but talented) Detroit cop from the streets that provides the essence of the film’s humor.


Foley is arrested several times by Beverly Hills police officers Sgt. John Taggart (John Ashton), Det. Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), and Lt. Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox) for various legal infractions but given the cop courtesy discount and allowed to walk away while the Beverly Hills brass becomes increasingly impatient with his conduct.  However, it is Foley’s streetwise, but again unorthodox, methods that lead to a break in the case when he finds coffee grounds in the warehouse and deduces that drug trafficking is afoot, the coffee grounds being used to throw off the drug sniffing dogs.  While Taggart and Rosewood do not appreciate the significance of this find, Bogomil does, paving the way for the Beverly Hills police and Foley to begin cooperating in the investigation of the criminals instead of butting heads. 


When Foley’s other childhood friend (who works for the bad guys) is kidnapped, Foley convinces Taggart, Rosewood, and Bogomil to help him rescue his friend and bring the wrongdoers to justice.  The finale is a firefight that kills most of the criminals and results in a shoulder wound to Foley.


Since Foley is likely to be out of a job in Detroit for disobeying his boss’ orders, Bogomil decides to speak to Inspector Todd and smooth things over.  Again, the protagonist is getting away with breaking the proverbial rules but being rewarded (instead of disciplined) because he “got the job done.”  Though Bogomil initially refused to help Foley, when Foley threatens to stay in Beverly Hills and become a private investigator, Bogomil quickly changes his mind.  Before Foley leaves Beverly Hills to return home, he asks Taggart and Rosewood to join him for a farewell drink and they accept the invitation even though they are on duty.  When they ask where they are going, Foley says to them, “Don’t worry about it.  I’ve found the perfect place.  You guys will love it.  Trust me.”  The Beverly Hills police also pick up Foley’s large tab at the Beverly Hills Hotel. 


Some Interesting Facts about Beverly Hills Cop include:


Martin Brest flipped a quarter to decide whether to undertake the direction of the film or not.  When the movie proved to be an enormous hit, he framed the quarter and hung it upon his wall.


The part of Foley was originally offered to Sylvester Stallone.  However, two weeks before filming, Stallone was out and Murphy was in.  According to Murphy, Stallone wanted a “harder edged” screenplay (Stallone essentially rewrote Beverly Hills Cop as what would be the 1986 film, Cobra); the role was re-written for Murphy.


Many of the comedy scenes were improvised including the “5 pounds of red meat in his bowels” and literally hundreds of takes were ruined when cast members, actors, or the director himself, were unable to stop laughing during shooting because of this.  During the “super-cops” monologue, Ashton is pinching his face hard and looking down in apparent frustration.  In actuality, Ashton is laughing.  Reinhold put his hand in his pocket and pinched his thigh hard to prevent himself from laughing.


Axel Foley’s boss, inspector Todd, played by Gilbert R. Hill, was a real-life detective in the Detroit Police Department who later became a Detroit City Council member and mayoral candidate.


The scene in which Foley, Rosewood, and Taggart give an explanation to Bogomil about the strip club arrests was also improvised.


Cannonball, Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop all tap into the formula I keep raising about the underdog individual.  In Cannonball, Carradine plays a super talented yet reckless driver who ignores his parole obligation and is at least partially responsible for probably half a dozen fatal accidents, speeding across the country and de facto winning the race, and is rewarded with a lucrative contract after his rival dies a fiery death.  Top Gun doesn’t even try to disguise its theme, calling the main character, who is at least partially to blame for his co-pilot’s death because he was angling for another point by forcing the other plane out of position, “Maverick.”  Yet once Maverick proves his superior flying abilities in combat, not only is all forgiven but he is in fact rewarded by being presented with the opportunity to become a Top Gun instructor.  As we’ve seen in Beverly Hills Cop, Foley clashes with the rule following Beverly Hills cops but once his police acumen is displayed, all his law breaking conduct is forgotten and again, the protagonist is even rewarded when Bogomil covers for Foley and his stay is compliments of the department.


Simpson and Bruckheimer were pioneers who stumbled upon a paradigm that attracted American audiences. They perfected the formula, turning virtually all of their films into what is now known as the modern day action-comedy Blockbuster.  While many moviegoers don’t know who Don Simpson is, they sure know his work.  Thanks Don, you should have stuck around longer.



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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Movie Reviews


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