#363. Music

Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” There is something innately powerful about music that allows us all to express ourselves. Whether it’s dancing to a song in the middle of the street (like in West Side Story (1961)), or being able to play an instrument with supernatural skill (like in Shine (1996)), music makes our lives that much more interesting. Nearly every movie that has ever been made has music accompanying the action on screen, but fewer of them have music as a central piece of its plot. Sure, some movies visually synchronize with a playlist, whether intentionally (like Baby Driver (2017)) or unintentionally (like The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon), but these are not the ones where music is almost its own character. This week’s two films highlight music as a significant plot device.

The Sound of MusicThe Sound of Music
Year: 1965
Rating: G
Length: 174 minutes / 2.9 hours

It’s easy to see how music can feature prominently in a musical. And yet, many musicals pull their songs from the mundane, singing about common things and situations that help to propel the plot. In fact, sometimes you can cut the music out entirely and still have an excellent film. Pygmalion (1938) works just as well as My Fair Lady (1964), and at half the length. However, My Fair Lady won Best Picture and Pygmalion did not, much like West Side Story won, and the non-musical Romeo and Juliet (1968) did not. Clearly, music adds something to these movies. The Sound of Music (1965) cannot be separated from music and maintain its plot. Heck, “music” is right there in the title. The music in this film is powerful enough to warm the hearts of children who have lost a mother, as well as help a family escape the oppression of an invading force of Nazis.

When Maria (Julie Andrews) is given an opportunity to be a governess for a local widower, she jumps at the chance partly because the stodgy discipline of Nonnberg Abbey stifles her free spirit. However, upon arriving at Captain Georg von Trapp’s (Christopher Plummer) house, she finds the seven children waiting for her to be cold and mischievous, likely due to their father’s parenting style. Through songs that she teaches these children, eventually, they come to respect and love her. Maria’s presence in the family changes the children so drastically that it takes some time for their father to come around. When he does, he marries Maria just as the Nazis start to invade Austria. Using the family’s singing talents to be part of a talent show, Georg and Maria use their connections to escape during the performance and evade capture just long enough to make their way into Switzerland.

La La LandLa La Land
Year: 2016
Rating: PG-13
Length: 128 minutes / 2.13 hours

If we’ve learned anything from Damien Chazelle’s first two, critically-acclaimed films, it’s that he likes music. From the brutal world of competitive jazz competitions in Whiplash (2014) to the realities of success in the realms of music and acting in La La Land (2016), Chazelle shows the audience how intense music can be. In La La Land, particularly, we see how music is a creative and free force that helps individuals express themselves, but at the cost of not being nearly as commercially viable as other forms of music. While La La Land is itself a musical (albeit with fewer songs than the musicals we’re used to), the influence of music on the plot is undeniable. Not only can you hear how music sets a variety of tones between parties and thoughtful walks on a pier, but you can hear the difference between music from the heart and music for a paycheck.

Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling) is trying to make ends meet as a talented musician. However, while the gigs he gets pay the bills, they are far from the improvisational jazz he wants to play. In fact, he is fired from a gig at a restaurant for expressing himself musically, instead of playing the required Christmas music. As he stormed out of the restaurant, he literally ran into Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress who is also relegated to a barista job on a movie lot until she finds her big break. The two of them are initially irritated at each other’s quirks but soon fall in love. While both Sebastian and Mia pursue their dreams to own a nightclub and become a successful actress, respectively, it soon becomes clear that Sebastian must take an opportunity to play in a band to support them both. Putting his dream on pause, Sebastian supports Mia, and eventually, she earns an audition which starts her career. Years later, Sebastian has realized his dream by creating a nightclub that features jazz, but at what cost?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 musical masterpieces

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#362. Maids and Governesses

One of the curses of wealth is the lack of a work/life balance. To maintain a lavish lifestyle, one must dedicate their lives to their work. Because the dedication to work provides the money needed to remain wealthy, then some regular household duties can be covered by hiring someone to do them. From maintaining a house to raising children, these hired servants are often brought into the home to perform the duties that the employed individual has neither time nor capacity for in their daily lives. Usually, these individuals are women, as housework and child-rearing have traditionally been assigned to females. And yet, by bringing in an individual and letting them into your house, a home can drastically change . . . either positively or negatively. This week’s two films highlight the maids and governesses hired on by the rich and wealthy.

The HousemaidThe Housemaid
Year: 1960
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 109 minutes / 1.8 hours

Housework can be a real chore. In traditional households, a wife would take care of these tasks while the husband would work to bring in money. Unfortunately, whether by sickness, injury, or pregnancy, there are times when the housework can be too much for these wives. While some of the extremely wealthy will hire housemaids on a more permanent basis, sometimes a short-term housemaid can be useful to bridge the gap during those times when a wife cannot handle the workload. Of course, with another woman in the house, the temptation to stray from the marriage is introduced. Maybe the housemaid is younger and more attractive, or maybe the housemaid has her own nefarious plans for the man of the house. Whatever the case, hiring a housemaid could carry some risks that these families don’t initially realize.

Dong-sik Kim (Kim Jin-kyu) is a composer who lives with his wife and two children. With his wife expecting a third child, she soon becomes so weak that she cannot work around the house. Consequently, Mr. Kim hires Myung-sook (Lee Eun-shim) as a housemaid to help around the house. Because the need for a housemaid is pressing, the hiring process failed to identify the housemaid’s mental stability. From capturing rats with her hands to spying on Mr. Kim, Myung-sook eventually seduces her employer and becomes pregnant. With the power dynamic now changed within the household, Mrs. Kim (Ju Jeung-ryu) insists that Myung-sook kill her bastard child. Instead of obeying Mrs. Kim, the housemaid makes a power play and threatens to kill the Kim children, eventually succeeding and bringing down the entire household in the process.

The Sound of MusicThe Sound of Music
Year: 1965
Rating: G
Length: 174 minutes / 2.9 hours

Parenting is best performed with the two-parent system. A mother and father usually have a much easier time raising their children than a single parent, mostly due to the distribution and sharing of responsibilities. However, sometimes the death of one of the partners can induce a single parent to continue on raising these children by themselves. In these situations, the single parent still needs to work in order to provide for their children, but as a result, will have no time to actually spend raising them. This is where governesses can be brought in to fill in the gap left by the missing parent. While a governess might not be necessary for one child, they are certainly helpful when there are seven. It can take some time for the children to trust and obey a governess, especially considering she is not their parent. However, the governesses who do succeed, manage to gain the children’s trust and love.

Maria (Julie Andrews) is the free-spirited headache of Nonnberg Abbey. Her energetic personality is in direct contrast to the solemnity required of a nunnery. Consequently, she is sent by the Mother Abbess to assist a retired naval Captain as a governess for his seven children. The task is daunting at first, as she tries to break through the hard exterior of the children brought about by Georg von Trapp’s (Christopher Plummer) militaristic parenting style. Gradually, the children start to trust her as she brings vivacity and enjoyment of life into their home. Unfortunately, Georg does not necessarily agree with her parenting style, causing him to send her back to the Abbey. However, when his children show how much they love Maria, he relents, and she stays, eventually marrying him and helping the whole family escape the Nazis who invade Austria shortly afterward.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 women working in the house

#361. South Korean Films

There’s no doubt that many countries dominate the film market. It’s hard to ignore the United States’ film industry due to how many films it churns out in a given year. However, even in foreign markets, certain countries have a recognizable industry for many reasons. French films have their artistic nature, Swedish films were made prominent by Ingmar Bergman’s directing, Japanese films focused on the historical timeframes of their past. Even in East Asia, movies by Chinese, Russian, and Indian film industries are usually considered part of the oeuvre of the foreign film market. And yet, even small countries like South Korea have made significant contributions to the world of film even as early as a decade after declaring independence from the North. This week’s two films highlight some gems from the South Korean film industry.

OldboyOldboy
Year: 2003
Rating: R
Length: 120 minutes / 2.0 hours

South Korea really broke into the international film scene around the turn of the 21st Century. Sure, they had made films before then, it’s just that now they were creating more movies that were noteworthy of international attention. Films like Audition (1999) and Attack the Gas Station (1999) merely paved the way for the renaissance in South Korean movies that would continue from there. Movies like 3-Iron (2004), The Host (2006), and The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008) have shown that South Korea can work within already-defined genres like Romance, Monsters, and Comedy, respectively. When they push the boundaries of some of these genres, like Oldboy (2003), and the South Korean-directed Snowpiercer (2013), it’s easy to realize that South Korea has a style and an influence that his wholly their own.

Based on a Japanese manga of the same name, Oldboy follows Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) on a journey of revenge against a foe he does not know. 15 years ago, he was abducted and trapped in a hotel room with nothing to do but train his body. When he was finally released, he determined to punish those who had stolen those years of his life. With the help of a young woman he meets in a nearby restaurant, Dae-su tracks down the mastermind behind his imprisonment: an old schoolmate by the name of Lee Woo-jin (Yoo Ji-tae). Woo-jin enacted his own revenge on Dae-su without him even realizing it, the 15 years trapped in the hotel room meant to provide poetic justice to the wrong that Woo-jin suffered at the hands of Dae-su decades earlier. While this shocking revelation changes Dae-su’s relationship with the young woman, he tries to forget this connection in order to grab onto this fleeting happiness.

The HousemaidThe Housemaid
Year: 1960
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 109 minutes / 1.8 hours

One of the rare gems of the South Korean film industry reveals that their recent successes are not by accident. Even back in 1960, mere years after South Korea separated itself from the North, their cultural strength allowed them to make films like The Housemaid (1960). It is unfortunate that this movie didn’t immediately light the flames of a burgeoning industry, and that South Korea had to wait four decades before the international film critics would take them seriously again because clearly, the South Koreans had their fundamentals down. Sure, by today’s standards The Housemaid might be more along the lines of daytime television soap operas, but even with this comparison drawn, the strength of its story and drama make it just as relevant today as it was back when it was first released.

When the burdens of maintaining a household become too much for Mrs. Kim (Ju Jeung-ryu), her husband, Dong-sik Kim (Kim Jin-kyu) hires a housemaid to help out. This housemaid (Lee Eun-shim) does her duties but is a strange creature. In an all-too-common scenario, the housemaid eventually seduces and is impregnated by Mr. Kim, adding drama to the household. As a result of Mrs. Kim wanting the housemaid to induce a miscarriage, the housemaid starts plotting the demise of the Kim family’s two children (and one unborn child). Through some elaborate plans involving rat poison, Mr. Kim eventually finds out that his food has been poisoned by replacing the rat poison with sugar, noticing the sweet taste in his soup one evening. The housemaid has such control over the family that she convinces Mr. Kim to commit suicide with her by the very same poison.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 South Korean classics

#360. Cult Films

What makes a film “great?” Is it the awards it wins? Is it the money it makes? Is it critical recognition? Many films are easy to categorize via these metrics, but the cult classics are often beyond explanation. For whatever reason, these films garner a loyal following that loves the film even despite some of its “failings.” These are the films that didn’t do well at the box office or were critically panned, but people still find to be entertaining. Often, these are the “so bad it’s good” films that have audiences that look past the goofy or bizarre and love the movie for the campy entertainment that it is. Sometimes, cult films can merely gain their status due to the rarity of their distribution. If an exceptional film is hard to find, those who have seen it will attest to its greatness. This week’s two films highlight some cult films and what led them to this status.

The Boondock SaintsThe Boondock Saints
Year: 1999
Rating: R
Length: 108 minutes / 1.8 hours

Every year, there are plenty of films that I never get to see because I don’t live in the big cities like Los Angeles or New York. Some of these films are the “artsy” movies that see limited release because they’re not necessarily commercially viable. Other films with limited releases in theatres are done for other reasons, only to be “discovered” once they reach the rental circuit. With a wider availability through rental stores like Blockbuster, or streaming services like Netflix, suddenly a film that wouldn’t have had a large audience finds itself becoming popular by sheer word-of-mouth. The Boondock Saints (1999) is just such a film. Critics didn’t like the film, it was only released in five theatres, and only made just over $30k, but once audiences found it on DVD, they started raving about it. It just goes to show that sometimes the audience knows what it wants, despite whatever Hollywood would have to say about it.

FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) is assigned to a case involving the death of two Russian mobsters in a Boston alleyway. In his investigation, he finds the culprits are likely Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus, twin brothers who were acting in self-defense after standing up to the mobsters the night before. Because they’re standing up for Boston and its Irish-American heritage, most people view them as heroes, if not saints. Consequently, Agent Smecker lets them go but eventually assists them in taking out the larger contingent of the Russian mafia in town. As the MacManus twins work their way up the hierarchy of the Russian mafia, they are soon up against a hired gun named Il Duce (Billy Connolly), who turns out to be their father. All three achieve sainthood by dispatching the mob boss to the afterlife during his trial.

OldboyOldboy
Year: 2003
Rating: R
Length: 120 minutes / 2.0 hours

Foreign films can often be difficult to find in markets outside of their country of origin. Not only do these films have cultural and language barriers that might make them less-likely to be brought to American audiences but the marketing for such films in the United States is likely to be next to nothing. Consequently, some foreign films that are even critically acclaimed might gain a cult following in other countries just due to the challenge involved in viewing said movies. Once again, plenty of these films gain notoriety through word-of-mouth to gain the cult following outside of its country of origin. Of course, sometimes the “cult” that follows a particular film does so because of the extremes the film exhibits. Either it’s extremely bad, or violent, or awkward, but whatever it is that makes the film unique will help draw fans to it.

For 15 years, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) has been trapped in a hotel room after he was abducted the night of his daughter’s 4th birthday. During his unexplained incarceration, he plots his revenge (a la The Count of Monte Cristo) while training himself to be able to fight those who abducted him. Just as inexplicably, he’s released on a rooftop and soon finds his training allows him to fight extraordinarily well. Coming upon a restaurant, he meets Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung), a young woman who helps him investigate his strange kidnapping. The two fall in love and consummate their relationship shortly before finding the culprit of Dae-su’s imprisonment: a classmate from high school who was exposed for incest, killing the classmate’s sister in the process. Of course, this classmate had to get revenge on Dae-su, which results in some poetic justice before Dae-su enacts his own vengeance.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 cult classics

#359. Vigilantes

While the police should be the primary form of law enforcement, sometimes they are limited with what they can do. These limitations can be brought about via budgetary or personnel constraints, but the most significant restriction seems to be the law itself. Criminals are only criminal if they’re caught doing something against the law. Even if they are caught, with good enough lawyers, these individuals can sometimes go free. When the law seems to fail the individuals affected by these criminals, there is often a desire to take justice into their own hands. The urge to be a vigilante is usually tempered by the law-breaking that would occur as a part of the act of vengeance. Vigilantes thrived in societies with little to no law enforcement, like the old west, but many modern situations are just as applicable. This week’s two films highlight some vigilantes.

Magnum ForceMagnum Force
Year: 1973
Rating: R
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours

One of the reasons that vigilantes start to emerge in a system is because of corruption. If justice is being hampered by bureaucracy, that’s one thing, but when a biased leadership that wants certain criminals to go free exists, it can be difficult to overcome these limitations without stepping outside the law. Most police officers want to see justice happen, but even the blindly ignorant can usually see where something is wrong with the system. In these cases, either the citizens rise up and become vigilantes, or the cops who want the criminals to be punished will make sure that the criminals’ consequences are doled out. The only difference between these kinds of vigilantes and the ones portrayed in comic-book movies (which seems to be all of them) is that the competence of the police force is not in question in these cases.

Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) has a lot on his plate and usually finds himself in situations where he needs to act in order to prevent a situation from becoming worse. Of course, the way he performs his job isn’t exactly “by the book.” One of Callahan’s traits is that he often uses his gun to get things done. At the firing range, he runs across a group of four rookie police officers who prove that they’re better with their guns than he is. While mobsters are being murdered around town, Callahan starts to suspect that these cops are taking justice into their own hands, killing the mobsters who have been acquitted through the legal system. When the leader of this “death squad” turns out to be one of the rookies, Callahan is offered a position in their group. Callahan declines the offer and has to use his gun to survive while also bringing these rogue cops to justice.

The Boondock SaintsThe Boondock Saints
Year: 1999
Rating: R
Length: 108 minutes / 1.8 hours

“‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” While this passage from Romans gives many of the downtrodden hope in their unjust situations, sometimes people turn into vigilantes when they see that God is taking his time. Often, criminal organizations will manage to stay underneath the radar of the police, but will still affect the lives of ordinary citizens. Because there is no evidence that these organizations have done anything wrong, they are allowed to continue unabated. Much of the time, these organizations end up taking advantage of the disadvantaged, mostly because they know these individuals won’t fight back. But, what if some individuals see what’s happening and decide to stand up for these ordinary citizens? They don’t have the legal right to confront the organization, but these vigilantes will do what it takes to solve the problem.

During a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Irish-American brothers Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus stand up to some Russian mobsters who want to acquire the pub by force. After being rebuffed by the MacManus brothers, the Russians return the next day to settle the score and are killed in self-defense. While the media lauds these men as heroes, the FBI still start investigating the situation. Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) sympathizes with the men and lets them go after a night in a holding cell. Of course, Connor and Murphy have now made the decision to rid Boston of these Russian mobsters. As they start to go about killing these mobsters, Agent Smecker is conflicted as to whether or not to arrest or assist them. When the leader of the Russian mafia goes to trial, the brothers are aided by Smecker and their long-lost father to enact their own brand of justice.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 vehement vigilantes

#358. Police

Whatever your opinion is of law enforcement, they’re generally a necessity to maintain order in society. That’s not to say that police officers aren’t human as well (Robocop (1987) excluded, of course). They make mistakes sometimes, and sometimes they act in their own self-interests. Despite controversy and other shortcomings, there are plenty of police who are full of integrity and do their job to the best of their ability. Over the years, there have been numerous stereotypes formed around the cops. From the donut-eating overweight incompetent to the hard-nosed, by-the-book officer who is continuously stymied by corruption in his department, a lot of police representation in movies can be boiled down to tropes. Consequently, the “police movie” is practically its own genre. This week’s two films highlight some different representations of police.

The Naked GunThe Naked Gun
Year: 1988
Rating: PG-13
Length: 85 minutes / 1.42 hours

There are plenty of movies that portray the police as some kind of joke. Granted, these films also have the police in the role of an antagonist, thus making them incompetent to allow the protagonist to succeed, often to comedic effect. However, there are still many films that have police as the protagonists and remain in the “comedy” genre. Sometimes the situations the police find themselves in are the comedic factor but other times the police themselves are the source of the comedy. The former is best represented by films like Kindergarten Cop (1990), whereas the latter are generally represented by movies like Super Troopers (2001), and Hot Fuzz (2007). The Naked Gun franchise combines both of these types of comedy in a wry and often goofy screwball comedy that features the comedic talents of Leslie Nielsen.

With the visit of Queen Elizabeth II (Jeannette Charles) to Los Angeles coming up soon, it’s up to Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) to clean up a city with a heroin problem before she arrives. All the information Detective Nordberg (O. J. Simpson) has accumulated on the heroin ring point to Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán). To distract Drebin, Ludwig sends his assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley), to help Drebin with the investigation. After some sleuthing, Drebin and Jane discover that Ludwig will attempt an assassination of the Queen at a baseball game using hypnotic suggestion to awaken a sleeper assassin. As time runs out to stop the killing, Drebin’s dumb luck and clumsy bumbling end up saving the day. Of course, at this point, Jane is turned into a sleeper agent and attempts to kill Drebin. His only defense against her is to call upon the strength of their relationship.

Magnum ForceMagnum Force
Year: 1973
Rating: R
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours

Police work is very serious business, as well it should be. The everyday stories of police can even be used in a documentary format, as was done with The Thin Blue Line (1988). Even fictionalized accounts do have some elements of truth to them, as the dramatic nature of a police officer’s job lends itself to gripping storytelling. Movies like Training Day (2001) show audiences just what needs to be done to affect change as a police officer. Even animated films like Zootopia (2016) highlight the struggles of police who are trying to do the right thing, despite the bureaucracy and other factors that end up being stacked against them. In the end, most police films are about investigations. As the crime is unraveled, the police find themselves deep in the dregs of society as they try to bring justice to their jurisdiction.

Soon after a mysterious shooting death of acquitted Mobster Carmine Ricca (Richard Devon), Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) runs across a few rookie police officers who have skills with their guns that surpasses his own. As more undesirable members of society are knocked off, Harry starts to suspect that a gang of motorcycle cops has created a “kill squad” to take out the mobsters and pimps that haven’t received the justice they deserve. Through a shooting competition, Harry manages to retrieve a fired bullet from a rookie officer’s gun. When ballistics analyzes the round, it matches the mob shootings. Cornering Harry with threats and a mailbox bomb, these police officers give him an ultimatum to join their group. With his outright refusal, the officers turn their wrath on Harry, who manages to outsmart them and give them their own justice as well.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 police portrayals

#357. Leslie Nielsen

Most actors will know early in their career which genres work best for them. Whether it’s John Wayne and westerns or Boris Karloff and horror, these actors will usually excel in their respective genres for their entire career. Other actors may find that they can act in a particular genre, but can’t seem to achieve success doing so. In these instances, some actors will switch genres to determine a fit that works for them. In terms of changing genres, many comedic actors can sometimes find success in drama, but the opposite is rarely true. Comedy requires a different understanding of acting, including facial expressions, deadpan deliveries, and . . . timing. And yet, while the transition from drama to comedy is rare, actors like Leslie Nielsen have found success in doing so. This week’s two films highlight two of Leslie Nielsen’s best comedies.

Airplane!Airplane!
Year: 1980
Rating: PG
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

If I told you that Leslie Nielsen didn’t act in a comedy until 24 years into his career, you’d likely respond with, “Surely, you can’t be serious!” And yet, this is the honest truth (and don’t call me Shirley). From films like Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Nielsen managed to develop a career as the “serious” archetype. So, when a movie like Airplane! (1980) came along, many thought the film was going to be a serious “disaster” film along the lines of The Towering Inferno (1974) or the aforementioned The Poseidon Adventure. Leslie Nielsen’s deadpan acting of comedic lines merely accentuated the silliness that is contained in this disaster parody. One would almost wonder if Nielsen could have entered comedy earlier without developing the more serious personas to play against for maximum contrast and maximum comedy.

Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) is on a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago when many of the passengers start to show symptoms of food poisoning. Rumack is able to make the diagnosis because, between the options of steak or fish, he had the lasagna. Unfortunately, the flight crew all had fish, so now it’s up to flight attendant Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) to find someone who can fly the plane. As it just so happens, her former boyfriend, Ted Striker (Robert Hays), is on the plane and has the skills as a former fighter pilot to land safely. Of course, his PTSD has affected his nerves, leading to his “drinking” problem. Dr. Rumack pulls Striker aside to let him know what’s at stake here. Through a bit of coaxing and encouragement, Rumack convinces Striker to fly the plane just as they come within range of landing at Chicago.

The Naked GunThe Naked Gun
Year: 1988
Rating: PG-13
Length: 85 minutes / 1.42 hours

After the success of Airplane!, the directors gave Leslie Nielsen a starring role in a television parody of detective shows known as Police Squad! This show eventually spun off into The Naked Gun film series, which included From the Files of Police Squad! (1988), 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), and 331/3: The Final Insult (1994). By the time these films were concluded, Leslie Nielsen’s association with comedy was undeniable. He would go on to act in a number of other parodies, including Mel BrooksDracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), the James Bond parody, Spy Hard (1996), as well as a number of pop culture collage parodies like Scary Movie 3 (2003) and Scary Movie 4 (2006). Nielsen’s ability to never take himself that seriously was even exemplified after his death in 2010, with the epitaph on his gravestone being a simple fart joke: “Let ‘er rip.”

Upon returning from his vacation to Beirut, where he inadvertently foiled the plans of all of America’s enemies, Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) must exonerate the Police Squad from drug charges before Queen Elizabeth II (Jeannette Charles) arrives in Los Angeles. As the Queen’s security for the visit, any negative press on the Police Squad could be detrimental to the whole department. Meanwhile, drug lord Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán) had developed a plan to create a sleeper assassin to take out the Queen. In a plan reminiscent of The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Ludwig hopes to use a beeper to trigger his assassin. To keep the Police Squad from foiling his plans, Ludwig assigns his assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley), to distract Lieutenant Drebin. Through Drebin’s bumbling, he manages to save the day, while also preventing his own death at Jane’s hands by proposing to her.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 laugh-filled Leslie Nielsen roles

Bacon #: 2 (Nuts / Eli Wallach -> Mystic River / Kevin Bacon)