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Soundtrack review: Naked gun: From the files of Police Squad! (Ira Newborn, 1988,2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Naked gun: From the files of Police Squad! (Ira Newborn, 1988,2014)


80s weekend is here, and it’s time for a landmark comedy of that period, ”Naked gun: From the files of Police Squad!”. It’s the first part of one of the most famous comedy trilogies ever, chronicling the adventures of the most incompetent cop the movie world has ever seen, and La La Land Records just released a 3CD collection of the scores for all three movies. And quite a wonderful gift it is.
I used to dismiss comedy scores as easy and boring. I rarely made the effort to listen to one up until a year or so ago. I’m glad I expanded my horizons, because I would have missed on a lot of fun experiences, like this one. Ira Newborn’s “Naked gun” is a rich orchestral score that doesn’t hold back, a collection of epic swing cues (yes, there can be such thing, just listen to this score), luscious and exaggerated romantic themes and there’s even place for suspense.
Where do I start? Such a useless and larger than life character as Frank Drebin needed a theme to match, and Ira Newborn delivered with an epic big band swing extravaganza that makes me burst into laughter every time I hear it. It continues into the awesome “Main title”, a track I could listen to over and over again, with its trumpets and percussion and saxophones and I can just imagine the fun the band must have had playing this. The theme resurfaces in a few other cues. And when it doesn’t, we have the seduction cues…When I hear the tracks involving “miss Spencer”, there’s no mistaking what happens on screen and how funnily wrong everything will go. The wailing trumpets and slow piano are over the top and awesome.
And then there are the two more serious cues of this album. They both get 5 stars and are my favorites except the main theme, because even a world of wonderful silliness needs a change of mood every now and then, and “The third out beep/ frank Frank Frank” and “I must kill Frank” are two tracks that show true emotions.  
The score ends with the source cues for the baseball game, and amongst those there’s one of the craziest and funniest renditions of “The Star-spangled banner”, sung by Leslie Nielsen himself, as well as “Blooper vision”, a typical and brilliant 1980s action theme.
The “Naked gun” trilogy of scores is the right stuff to play if you need a silly cheering up. It’s guaranteed to make you shake your head and smile. There’s a scene in the TV show “Friends” where Monica puts her whole head inside a turkey in order to get Chandler to stop being mad at her. That was not enough, but once she put some huge glasses on her turkey head and started dancing, it cracked him up. To me, this score has a similar effect, and it is just too much fun to ignore.  
My ratings:
Cue score: 70 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 40 / 61
Album excellence: 66%
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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