Monday, November 29, 2010

TFT's Movie Quote of the Day - November 29

I have a quick story to share with you today. This week was originally intended to be Naked Gun Week on TFT's Movie Quote of the Day because December 2nd marks the 22nd anniversary of the great slapstick spoof.

That will not change--after all, who celebrates the 22nd anniversary of anything with pomp and circumstance? It's an absurd lunacy the creators of the Naked Gun series would appreciate.

However, something else has changed. The man who brought us so many of those memorable lines with his clueless, deadpan delivery has died.

This face inspired years of laughter...and now we mourn the passing of Leslie Nielsen, 1926-2010.

By now, you've read the highlights concerning the life of one Leslie William Nielsen, born on February 11, 1926, on a very Canadian day in Regina, Saskatchewan. You've also been regaled with tales of his time as the Swamp Fox ("Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat, nobody knows where the Swamp Fox at, Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, hidin' in the glen, he'll run away to fight again") and his leading man status in the sci-fi masterpiece Forbidden Planet.

So un-Frank Drebin-like.

You've probably read about his great work in Airplane! and how it signaled a turning point in his career from recognizable, serious actor to King of the Spoof Movie. You won't read about his brother, who served as Deputy Prime Minister of Canada or that Nielsen was considered for Jack Nicholson's role in The Shining (yeah...chew on that one for a few seconds).

I know Leslie Nielsen primarily for his role as Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun series. Sure, Airplane! was probably the "first" throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks gag movie, but the Naked Gun--especially the first one--defines the genre for me.

So today, as we remember the life of Leslie William Nielsen, we also celebrate the 22nd anniversary of TFT's Best Spoof Ever, the 1988 Magnum Opus that recycled a bunch of gags from the aborted Police Squad! TV show, turned Ricardo Montalban into a villain again, reminded us what was once heroic about "the Juice," and helped earn Mr. Nielsen the title of "the Laurence Olivier of spoofs."

Today's Movie Quote comes straight from the mouth of the great Frank will all movie quotes this week. With his police friend and colleague Nordberg on death's doorstep, Frank tries to comfort Nordberg's wife...with disastrous results. After Frank bemoans the life-threatening injuries an officer faces on the job, his boss comments that getting shot multiple times is "no way for a man to die."

Frank's response is vintage Drebin, clueless and classic:

"You're right, Ed. A parachute not opening, that’s a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine, having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that’s the way I wanna go."

Improbably, "complications from pneumonia" was cut from an early draft of the script.
Gonna miss ya, pal.

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