Beverly Hills Cop
Get in Axel Foley’s way and you’ll end up with a banana in your tail pipe. Detectives Taggart (John Ashton) and Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) learn this lesson the hard way in the film that made Eddie Murphy a worldwide movie super star, Beverly Hills Cop. Murphy plays Axel Foley, a reckless but effective Detroit cop who transplants himself to southern California so he can investigate the mysterious killing of an old friend. Foley’s freewheeling style clashes hard with the by-the-book mentality of the Beverly Hills Police Department... and the rest is history. The clean and simple story gives Murphy the perfect framework to work his innate comedic genius on the big screen.
In addition to being the ultimate Eddie Murphy vehicle, Beverly Hills Cop set the gold standard for action comedies in the 1980s. Brutal violence and elaborate chase scenes go hand in hand with one liners and truly remarkable character work. Reinhold and Taggart deliver great performances and strike a comedic balance with Murphy, playing their characters as if they were an old married couple. Bronson Pinchot appears as Serge, an art gallery employee, and the character was later tweaked ever so slightly into Balki Bartokomous for TV’s Perfect Strangers. Ronny Cox appears as the lieutenant in command of Rosewood and Taggart and gives us a preview of the man-in-charge persona he would later bring to Dick Jones in Robocop (1987) and Cohaagen in Total Recall (1990). Also keep an eye out for Paul Reiser and Damon Wayans.
The massively influential soundtrack can be considered a character in and of itself. The unmistakable instrumental piece Axel F was originally composed by 80s synth maestro Harold Faltermeyer specifically for the banana scene. The track was so well received that it became the film’s anthem. Faltermeyer would go on to score other 80s classics including Fletch (1985), The Running Man (1987), Top Gun (1986) and Tango & Cash (1989).
With this unstoppable combination of elements Beverly Hills Cop became the top grossing film of 1984, just barely edging out Ghostbusters, which Eddie Murphy had also been offered a part in.