Friday, August 16, 2013

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)


Inspector Douglas Todd: You mind telling me where the f**k you come off going undercover without authorization from me? What the f**k is this all about? You wanna play some f**king bulls**t cowboy cop? Go do it in somebody else's precinct!
Axel Foley: Don't you wanna hear my side of the story?
Inspector Douglas Todd: What's your f**king side of the story?
Axel Foley: (Brief pause) Let's hear your side of the story.

Axel Foley, a cop in Detroit, received a surprise visit one day from his best friend from California.  Not long after he arrived, though, his friend was killed right in front of him.  Sneaking out of town and out of state, Axel gets on the trail of clues to find the killer.  That trail leads him to Beverly Hills, California.  There, he's determined to find the man who got away it and discovers not only him, but someone else is behind it.  With the help from another friend of his as well as the assistance of Billy and Taggart (two Beverly Hills cops who were supposed to run Axel out of town), Axel does what he can in a vengeful sort of way.

On December 1, 1984, "Beverly Hills Cop" made its premiere in Los Angeles, California.  That's not so surprising, right?  Four days later it would make its US-wide release to over 1,532 theaters and would earn over $15 million on its opening weekend alone having conquered its estimated $14 million budget to make (later, the release of total screens worldwide was over 2,000, the first film to have ever done so).  The next countries to see its release were Ireland, the UK, Sweden, China (Hong Kong), Portugal, Brazil, and other places around the world.  Ultimately, the film would gross more than $234.7 million, becoming the #1 Box Office hit of 1984 (squeaking by "Ghostbusters" by a little more than $5.5 million, though "Ghostbusters" was shown on only 1,506 screens US-wide on its opening weekend).

"Beverly Hills Cop" was an instant success directed by Martin Brest.  He wasn't all that well-known as a director just yet, his former achievements having been little known "Hot Tomorrows" (1977) and a bit more known "Going In Style" (1979) which starred legendary George Burns and Art Carney.  But perhaps Martin took notice in Eddie Murphy, the star of "Beverly Hills Cop", when Martin directed a segment for NBC's, "Saturday Night Live" in 1980.  After the success of "Beverly Hills Cop" which, I believe, launched Martin's career, Martin went on to direct such notable films as "Midnight Run", "Scent of a Woman", and "Meet Joe Black".  The last film he directed, however,... "Gigli"... well, I'm not quite certain what went wrong there.  Perhaps many things.  But let's not get off point.

"Beverly Hills Cop" starred, of course, Eddie Murphy (Axel), Judge Reinhold ("Billy"), John Ashton (Taggart), Lisa Eilbacher ("Jenny"), Ronny Cox (Lt. Andrew Bogomil), and Steven Berkoff (Victor Maitland).  It also co-starred James Russo (Mikey Tandino), Paul Reiser (Jeffrey), Bronson Pinchot (Serge), and Gilbert R. Hill (Insp. Douglas Todd).  If you don't know the name Gilbert R. Hill, it's probably because the only three films he was ever in were all three of the "Beverly Hills Cop" trilogy, having played Axel's boss.  In fact, the only time one might have known his name is if one was busted by him as Gilbert was, in real life, the Detective for the Detroit Police Department Homicide Division.

This film was nominated for a few awards including an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (by Daniel Petrie, Jr.), a BAFTA for Best Score (Harold Faltermeyer), and two Golden Globes for Best Actor (Eddie Murphy) and Best Motion Picture in the Comedy/Musical field.  However, it did not win any of those honors.  The awards "Beverly Hills Cop" did eventually win was the Best Stuntman Award for Eddy Donno (the guy who did the stunts for Eddie Murphy of which there is a picture toward the end of this post), the People's Choice Award for Best Motion Picture, and a Grammy for Best Album of Original Score written for a Motion Picture.

"Beverly Hills Cop" had an amazing soundtrack which included such chartbusters as "The Heat Is On" by Glenn Frey, "Neutron Dance" by The Pointer Sisters, "New Attitude" by Patti LaBelle, "Nasty Girl" by Vanity and, of course, the "Axel F" theme written and performed by Harold Faltermeyer himself.

Filmed at various locations in Michigan as well as Detroit and various locations in California including Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, here's some more behind-the-scenes information on "Beverly Hills Cop" you might enjoy...

1.  David Cronenberg was asked to direct but turned it down.

2.  Martin Scorsese was offered the chance to direct, but he turned it down saying the premise reminded him too much of the film "Coogan's Bluff".   

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

4.  The earliest version of the script involved a cop in East L.A. who was transferred to Beverly Hills, before evolving into the story of a cop from the East Coast who came to Beverly Hills to avenge the death of his friend. Drafts before the script was locked in (and became more of the comedy it ended up being) gave the cop's name as Axel Elly and set the out-of-Beverly Hills action in Pittsburgh.   

5.  Axel Foley was originally going to be played by Sylvester Stallone or Mickey Rourke. Stallone left the project and used some of his script ideas to make "Cobra". (Sidenote: According to Steven Berkoff (Maitland) in a UK newspaper interview, Sylvester Stallone quit the film because of disagreements about which kind of orange juice was to be put in his trailer.)  Other actors who were considered for the role of Axel Foley were Al Pacino and James Caan.

6.  In the process of casting the characters of Rosewood and Taggart, the director paired up various finalists and asked them to do some improvisation to get a feel for the chemistry between the actors. He paired up Judge Reinhold and John Ashton and gave them the following direction: "You are a middle aged couple, married for years. You are having a conversation on an average evening." Judge Reinhold immediately picked up a nearby magazine and the two improvised the "5 pounds of red meat in his bowels" bit almost verbatim as it eventually appeared in the movie. This got them the parts.   

7.  In one of the previous drafts written for Sylvester Stallone, Billy Rosewood was called "Siddons" and was killed off half-way through the script during one of the action scenes deemed "too expensive" for Paramount to produce. Only after Martin Brest cast Judge Reinhold and John Ashton was the decision made to keep Rosewood alive due to his chemistry with Taggart.

8.  Inspector Todd of the Detroit Police was played by then Detroit Police Department Homicide Dectective Gilbert R. Hill.  Det Hill later ran and won a seat on and served as President of the Detroit City Council.

9.  The shooting script was literally pasted together from the half dozen or so scripts written for this project over the years. When they were stuck, Eddie Murphy would improvise dialog or create a scene.

10.  Many of the opening shots were filmed in real-life Detroit, unbeknownst to the "actors", who later gave their consent. In fact, Martin Brest was escorted by the police, who would refuse to follow him when they thought it was too dangerous. Brest and crew, however, soldiered on with their work, unescorted.

11.  The T-shirt that Eddie Murphy wears in the film is from Mumford, an actual Detroit area school attended by one of the filmmakers. When film came out, the school received orders for the shirts from customers all over the world.   

12.  During his tirade at the Beverly Palms Hotel, Axel pretends to be writing an article called "Michael Jackson: Sitting on Top of the World" for Rolling Stone magazine. In real life, Playboy ran an article called "Eddie Murphy: Sitting on Top of the World."   

13.  When trying to find Foley and Rosewood, the LAPD use a "satellite tracking system" (the ancestor of the modern-day Global Positioning System or GPS). Such a system did not exist at the time and was made up to advance the plot, but later did come into existence in real life.

14.  Bronson Pinchot got the accent and mannerisms for his character Serge from a crew member he worked with on a earlier project. Like his character, that crew member always said, "Don't be stupid."
15.  In the art gallery, there is a large art piece containing several figures. One of the figures, a maitre' d with a chain around its neck, is modeled after director Martin Brest.   

16.  Originally, two men were supposed to be working in the art gallery scenes. When the director heard Bronson Pinchot's Serge impersonation, however, he thought it was so hysterical he scaled back the other part to give Pinchot more screen time. The second actor shows up only briefly with his shirt collar open too wide, on which Serge comments.
17.  The song which plays during the strip club scene is "Nasty Girl", by Vanity, and was recommended by the real-life stripper who was hired for the scene.   
18.  The city hall building seen in the film is the actual Beverly Hills City Hall. However, the exterior was very run-down and the plants were dying, so the film crew had to clean it up and grow new plants so it would look better on film.   
19.  Police Chief Hubbard (played by Stephen Elliott) walks into his first scene carrying some rolled-up sheets of paper. It is actually one of many reworked scripts, which was given to him to memorize and rehearse only minutes before the shooting of the scene started.
20.  Eddie Murphy improvised much of his comic lines, as did John Ashton and Judge Reinhold. Literally hundreds of takes were ruined by cast members or actors or the director himself, who 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. If you look closely, you can see that he is actually laughing. Reinhold put his hand in his pocket and pinched his thigh really hard to prevent himself from laughing.  Speaking of the "super-cops" scene...
21.  When filming the scenes in the police station sequences, Eddie Murphy became very tired. The crew offered him coffee but he refused to drink any because he refuses to take drugs of any kind. Eventually, Murphy relented and took small sips of coffee to stay awake. As a result of his first caffeine intake, Murphy became very energized and ad-libbed the "super-cops" monologue.   
22.  Martin Brest makes his cameo appearance at the end of the movie as the clerk who checks Axel out of the hotel.
And now you know.
"Beverly Hills Cop" was the highest grossing R-rated film in the US until "The Passion of the Christ" (2004) came out 20 years later. That film's gross was again surpassed by "The Hangover" (2009).
Enjoy these pictures stills from the film including some rarely seen behind-the-scenes footage.  The pictures are also followed by three quotes by Axel Foley stated in the film.


Axel Foley: Don't you think I realize what's going on here, miss? Who do you think I am, huh? Don't you think I know that if I was some hotshot from out of town that pulled inside here and you guys made a reservation mistake, I'd be the first one to get a room and I'd be upstairs relaxing right now. But I'm not some hotshot from out of town, I'm a small reporter from "Rolling Stone" magazine that's in town to do an exclusive interview with Michael Jackson that's gonna be picked up by every major magazine in the country. I was gonna call the article "Michael Jackson Is Sitting On Top of the World," but now I think I might as well just call it "Michael Jackson Can Sit On Top of the World Just As Long As He Doesn't Sit in the Beverly Palm Hotel 'Cause There's No N*****s Allowed in There!"
Axel Foley: Tell Victor that Ramon - -the fella he met about a week ago? - -tell him that Ramon went to the clinic today, and I found out that I have, um, herpes simplex 10, and I think Victor should go check himself out with his physician to make sure everything is fine before things start falling off on the man.
Axel Foley: Before I go, I just want you two to know something, alright? The supercop story... was working. Okay? It was working, and you guys just messed it up. Okay? I'm trying to figure you guys out, but I haven't yet. But it's cool. You f**k up a perfectly good lie.