While Leslie Nielsen continued to act in spoof movies through the end of his career, his later work seemed uninspired. This is presumably because the films themselves, shallow titles like “Doctor Movie” and “Scary Movie 4,” paled in comparison all-around to spook genre classics like “Airplane!” Here is a look at the highlights of the career spoof comedy icon Leslie Nielsen.
“Airplane!” is perhaps the greatest spoof movie of all time. The script is rife with puns and one-liners, which played right into Nielsen’s deadpan delivery. The convoluted story line and recurring gags are far from intellectual, but somehow the oddball script just works. Nielsen makes even the dumbest jokes, like the classic line, “Don’t call me Shirley,” absolutely hilarious. As NPR blogger Marc Hirsh pointed out, Leslie Nielsen “was someone who said unfunny things in an unfunny way, and for some reason, people laughed.” That was his gift, and no other role in his vast body of work shows it better.
Police Squad! (TV series, 1982)
While the 1982 television series Police Squad! was ill-fated, running only six episodes, Leslie Nielsen’s characteron the show, Frank Drebin, would become a classic. The series was the basis for the successful spoof movie series “Naked Gun,” releasing three installments in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Despite the “Naked Gun” movies maintaining popularity in TV syndication, the original series is surprisingly obscure, and well worth digging up for fans of Nielsen’s police spoof movie trilogy.
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
With Leslie Nielsen playing the lead role in a film written and directed by Mel Brooks, how can you possibly go wrong?Through the history of film there have been many low-budget, B-movie-at-best attempts at the Dracula story, making it a prime target for satirical comedy. The combination of Brooks’ witty script and impeccably timed direction mixed with Nielsen’s natural comedic sensibilities make this film a spoof classic.
“Airplane!” (1980) – Yahoo! Movies – http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1800362899/info
Remembering Leslie Nielsen, a Master of the Art of Not Being Funny – NPR – http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2010/11/29/131661180/remembering-leslie-nielsen-a-master-of-the-art-of-not-being-funny
Police Squad! (1981-1982) – Yahoo! TV – http://tv.yahoo.com/police-squad/show/32958
“Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” – Yahoo! Movies – http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1802816711/info
“Dracula: Dead and Loving It” – Yahoo! Movies – http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1800252242/details