Parody of WWII spy movies in which an American rock and roll singer becomes involved in a Resistance plot to rescue a scientist imprisoned in East Germany.
Release Year: 1984
Rating: 7.0/10 (25,631 voted)
Stars: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Peter Cushing
This time Zucker and Abrams are spoofing, most notably, Elvis films and WWII spy movies. Val Kilmer stars as Nick Rivers, a handsome American 50s-style rock and roll singer. While performing in East Germany, he falls in love with a beautiful heroine and becomes involved with the French Resistance.
Writers: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker
Colonel von Horst
Dr. Paul Flammond
Billy J. Mitchell
From the makers of the original "Airplane!" (not the Wright brothers)
Release Date: 8 June 1984
Filming Locations: Godrevy, St Ives, Cornwall, England, UK
Did You Know?
Directors were very happy that Omar Sharif accepted the role of British agent, so they invited him to a dinner after he completed his scenes. Sharif accepted the invitation, and a very special dinner was prepared for him. But he didn't show up, and soon it was found out he already left England. When he was later asked why he didn't come, he replied, "It's a tradition in my culture not to 'refuse' any offer. Example: someone offers you a drink, you should accept it even though you won't drink it." Unaware, ZAZ enjoyed a very expensive dinner, all by themselves.
The presentations of East Germany are incorrect. The national anthem at that time had no lyrics and no Nazi elements were used in the uniforms of the army. Also the word 'Heil' was not allowed.
Nigel made me go back to the meter shed. He ordered me to set off the alarms.
And what does he want us to do now?
Nothing you numbskull, Nigel's the traitor!
an overlooked gem
Maybe some people just don't get it. This was made by the team of
Zucker-Abraham-Zucker, responsible for "Airplane", "The Kentucky Fried
Movie", and the "Naked Gun" series, so who cares if it doesn't
accurately reflect society? It's not meant to be a satire, folks, it's
a very broad parody!
I recently watched this again, and I caught something I had never
caught before. In the dinner scene at the "Hotel Gay Schluffen", Nick
Rivers (played by Val Kilmer, and this may be the best thing he's ever
done), American rock star, is told that he needs a jacket to eat in the
dining room, but the restaurant will provide one. In the next scene we
can see him in the background having a jacket tailor-made! The reason
it's hard to catch is that there's exposition going on in the
foreground (a ZAZ trademark). It's funny, but the amazing thing is that
I've seen this movie many times over a period of something like 20
years, and I'd never noticed that before.
I believe that this is one of the marks of a great spoof, that you can
watch it many times and still pick up jokes you've never noticed
before. Like ZAZ's other masterworks, this one is packed with hilarious
one-liners and sight gags. Watch for the scene in the Swedish bookshop
that's filmed backwards, the way the verses to the East German National
Anthem keep getting longer and longer when translated into English, and
the scene where an unfortunate agent is crushed inside a car (and what
happens with him afterwards!). And this doesn't even scratch the
surface. If "Top Secret!" isn't ZAZ's funniest movie it's only because
it has such strong competition. The men were comedic geniuses when they
Val Kilmer was hilarious as Nick Rivers, and the movie has a strong
supporting cast, including Lucy Gutteridge as Nick's love interest
Hillary (I wonder how Ms. Clinton would feel if she knew her name means
"She whose bosoms defy gravity"?), Christopher Villiers as Nigel, her
ex-boyfriend (they spent some time stranded on a deserted island
together), and Jeremy Kemp as the evil General Streck. Also look out
for Peter Cushing, Omar Sharif, and Ian McNiece (hilarious as a spy
whose cover is selling souvenirs, novelties, and party tricks). And
watch out for the French resistance (who knows what they're doing in
East Germany?), each one of whose names is a pun on a French word or
phrase (Chocolate Mousse, Deja Vu, etc.)
The plot? Does it matter? Something about the East Germans planning to
take over the world while everybody's paying attention to an
international cultural show they're putting on (Nick is the American
representative), and the spies who are trying to stop it. But that's
not the point, the point is the comedy, and I could go on and on about
the many hilarious jokes but I'm not going to; let me just say without
ruining anything that the funniest scenes in the movie involve a cow.
It's usually overlooked, curiously enough, when talking about the great
comedies, but there's no doubt about it, "Top Secret!" IS one of the
great comedies of our time.