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HISTORY

Top Secret! reunited Paramount Pictures Corp. and producers Jon Davison and Hunt Lowry with the writing-directing-producing trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, following their 1980 hit comedy, Airplane! (see entry). In a 1 Oct 1983 Screen International article, Abrahams stated that they had always wanted to develop a concept around World War II, but felt Nazi Germany was “not especially funny.” Originally, they intended to parody an existing film plot, similar to their approach with Airplane, but were unable to find a suitable picture to spoof. In collaboration with writer Martyn Burke, the filmmakers embarked on their first original story, and Abrahams noted in a 7 May 1984 HR article that the screenplay took one year to complete. By updating the setting to East Germany during the Cold War, the filmmakers were able to parody an authoritarian government “without getting into awkward areas of taste,” and also incorporate their interest in rock and roll music. Unlike Airplane, they wanted to work with relatively unknown actors, and cast Val Kilmer in his first feature role, while actress Lucy Gutteridge, who played “Hillary Flammond,” had primarily appeared on British television.
       According to a 14 Sep 1983 Var item, principal photography began 1 Aug 1983 at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, outside London, England. A 17 Aug 1983 Var brief mentioned that the shooting schedule was twelve weeks. As reported in the 7 May 1984 HR, the production budget was $8 million.
       Repeating their test marketing approach on Airplane!, ... More Less

Top Secret! reunited Paramount Pictures Corp. and producers Jon Davison and Hunt Lowry with the writing-directing-producing trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, following their 1980 hit comedy, Airplane! (see entry). In a 1 Oct 1983 Screen International article, Abrahams stated that they had always wanted to develop a concept around World War II, but felt Nazi Germany was “not especially funny.” Originally, they intended to parody an existing film plot, similar to their approach with Airplane, but were unable to find a suitable picture to spoof. In collaboration with writer Martyn Burke, the filmmakers embarked on their first original story, and Abrahams noted in a 7 May 1984 HR article that the screenplay took one year to complete. By updating the setting to East Germany during the Cold War, the filmmakers were able to parody an authoritarian government “without getting into awkward areas of taste,” and also incorporate their interest in rock and roll music. Unlike Airplane, they wanted to work with relatively unknown actors, and cast Val Kilmer in his first feature role, while actress Lucy Gutteridge, who played “Hillary Flammond,” had primarily appeared on British television.
       According to a 14 Sep 1983 Var item, principal photography began 1 Aug 1983 at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, outside London, England. A 17 Aug 1983 Var brief mentioned that the shooting schedule was twelve weeks. As reported in the 7 May 1984 HR, the production budget was $8 million.
       Repeating their test marketing approach on Airplane!, the filmmakers previewed a two-hour version on college campuses and remained after the screenings to discuss the picture and reactions with students.
       A 30 May 1984 HR article announced that the original release date of 8 Jun 1984 was rescheduled for 22 Jun 1984 to avoid competition from summer blockbusters with Ghostbusters and Gremlins (1984, see entries). Producer Jon Davison stated that the filmmakers were “‘overjoyed,’” but they had been anticipating a move ever since the Ghostbusters opening was shifted to 8 Jun. Paramount did not expect the original booking of 1,100 theaters to drastically change with the change in release date.
       End credits contain an empty title card that reads: “This Space For Rent.” End credits also acknowledge: “Pac-Man™ Bally Midway MFG Co. in the Western Hemisphere and NAMCO Ltd. in the rest of the world”; and include “Special Thanks” to the following: “Danny Opatoshu; Rich Markey; Namco Ltd; Bally Midway MFG Co”; and state: “Made at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks, England.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1984
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
30 May 1984
p. 1, 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1984
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
22 Jun 1984
Section G, p. 11.
New York Times
22 Jun 1984
p. 10.
Screen International
1 Oct 1983.
---
Variety
17 Aug 1983.
---
Variety
14 Sep 1983.
---
Variety
13 Jun 1984
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Jon Davison Production
Production in association with Kingsmere Properties Limited
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d unit dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
Asst dir, 2d unit
Asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Focus puller
Clapper loader
Focus loader
Clapper puller
Puller clapper
Clapper clapper
Flipper flapper
Cam grip
Gaffer
Stills photog
Focus puller, 2d unit
Clapper loader, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Hey diddle diddle
Sketch artist
Sketch artist
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed (U.K.)
Asst ed (U.S.A.)
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const mgr
Prop master
Carpenter
Sculptor
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Prod buyer
Prop chargehand
Painter
Plasterer
Draughtsman
Draughtsman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Haberdasher
Ward master
MUSIC
Mus comp and conducted by
Mus ed (U.K.)
Mus ed (U.S.A.)
Mus consultant (U.K.)
Mus consultant (U.S.A.)
Asst to Maurice Jarre
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Boom op
Sd ed (U.K.)
Sd ed (U.K.)
Sd ed (U.K.)
Sd re-rec by, Twickenham Film Studios
Sd re-rec by, Twickenham Film Studios
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Animatronics tech
Animatronics tech
Animatronics tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Supv hairdresser
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting (U.S.A.)
In charge of prod
Prod mgr
The third man
Prod accountant
Asst to the prods
New York casting
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Diving master
L. A. prod asst
U.K. prod asst
U.K. prod asst
Prod runner
Cont, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt arr
ANIMATION
Anim seq
Anim seq
COLOR PERSONNEL
Prints by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Skeet Surfing,” parody medley based on “Surfin’ USA,” by Brian Wilson and Chuck Berry
“Fun, Fun, Fun,” by Brian Wilson and Michael Love
“Little Honda,” by Brian Wilson and Michael Love
+
SONGS
“Skeet Surfing,” parody medley based on “Surfin’ USA,” by Brian Wilson and Chuck Berry
“Fun, Fun, Fun,” by Brian Wilson and Michael Love
“Little Honda,” by Brian Wilson and Michael Love
“California Girls,” by Brian Wilson
“Hawaii,” by Brian Wilson, produced by Mike Moran, performed by Val Kilmer
“East German National Anthem,” parody based on The Shorewood Wisconsin High School Hymn, by Sandy S. Smith
“Tutti Frutti,” by Richard Penniman and Dorothy La Bostrie, produced by Mike Moran, performed by Val Kilmer
“Nutcracker,” by Tchaikovsky, courtesy of Everest Records
“How Silly Can You Get,” by Phil Pickett, produced by Mike Moran, performed by Val Kilmer
“Spend This Night With Me,” music by Mike Moran, lyrics by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, produced by Mike Moran, performed by Val Kilmer
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” parody based on “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Roy Turk and Lou Handman, produced by Mike Moran, performed by Val Kilmer
“A Hard Day’s Night,” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
“Straighten Out The Rug,” by Paul Hudson, produced by Mike Moran, performed by Val Kilmer
“Theme From Jaws,” by John Williams
“Bonanza,” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
additional lyrics by Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan
score performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, mixed by Eric Tomlinson, available on Varese Sarabande Records in the USA.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 June 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 June 1984
Production Date:
1 August--late October 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Kingsmere Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
17 September 1984
Copyright Number:
PA223161
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In communist East Germany, General Streck plans a monumental cultural festival to distract the world from a sinister plot to reunite Germany under his country’s rule. When conductor Leonard Bernstein cancels, American rock and roll star Nick Rivers, who had a number one hit with the song, “Skeet Surfing,” steps in as a last-minute replacement. Arriving at an East German checkpoint, Nick insults the ruthless Colonel Von Horst, despite the pleas of Martin, his manager, to remain diplomatic. Meanwhile, a British spy named Cedric has slipped into the country. At the cultural festival, Cedric makes contact with an undercover agent, who informs him that the East Germans are forcing scientist, Dr. Paul Flammond, to build a new weapon, but the doctor’s whereabouts are unknown. Cedric receives instructions to meet “the Torch,” leader of the Resistance, at the ballet that night, but the East Germans trap Cedric in a scrap metal compactor before the rendezvous. In the formal dining room of Hotel Gey Schlüffen, Nick arrives for dinner and receives a tie and jacket from the maître d’ before being seated. Meanwhile, Hillary Flammond, the beautiful daughter of Dr. Flammond, is being pursued by police and escapes into the dining room. As she is about to be escorted away, Nick convinces the maître d’ that Hillary is his date. The two get to know each other while they dance and order dinner. As the maître d’ introduces a special impromptu performance by a singer, Nick mistakenly believes he is being called on stage and does not realize the introduction was intended for Biletnikov, a high-ranking Communist official. Although ... +


In communist East Germany, General Streck plans a monumental cultural festival to distract the world from a sinister plot to reunite Germany under his country’s rule. When conductor Leonard Bernstein cancels, American rock and roll star Nick Rivers, who had a number one hit with the song, “Skeet Surfing,” steps in as a last-minute replacement. Arriving at an East German checkpoint, Nick insults the ruthless Colonel Von Horst, despite the pleas of Martin, his manager, to remain diplomatic. Meanwhile, a British spy named Cedric has slipped into the country. At the cultural festival, Cedric makes contact with an undercover agent, who informs him that the East Germans are forcing scientist, Dr. Paul Flammond, to build a new weapon, but the doctor’s whereabouts are unknown. Cedric receives instructions to meet “the Torch,” leader of the Resistance, at the ballet that night, but the East Germans trap Cedric in a scrap metal compactor before the rendezvous. In the formal dining room of Hotel Gey Schlüffen, Nick arrives for dinner and receives a tie and jacket from the maître d’ before being seated. Meanwhile, Hillary Flammond, the beautiful daughter of Dr. Flammond, is being pursued by police and escapes into the dining room. As she is about to be escorted away, Nick convinces the maître d’ that Hillary is his date. The two get to know each other while they dance and order dinner. As the maître d’ introduces a special impromptu performance by a singer, Nick mistakenly believes he is being called on stage and does not realize the introduction was intended for Biletnikov, a high-ranking Communist official. Although Biletnikov and General Streck are annoyed and leave, Nick thrills the rest of the diners with a performance of the hit 1950s song, “Tutti Frutti.” When Nick returns to the table, Hillary has left. Back in her hotel room, she is surprised to see Cedric, who has escaped from the compactor, but can barely move, as his body is encased in metal. Despite the risk, she takes Cedric’s place and attends the ballet to meet the Resistance leader, hoping he can assist in locating her father. Nick is also at the performance and when he sees a man aiming a gun at Hillary, he throws the assailant over the balcony, and helps the young woman escape. Since he is a VIP guest in the country, Nick believes he is protected and stays behind, but East German authorities detain him at Flurgendorf prison for tossing a secret police agent over the balcony. Martin assures him that he will be released before Friday’s concert, which is being transmitted live to eighty-five countries. However, General Streck and Colonel Von Horst interrogate Nick and appear to have no interest in letting him go until he reveals information about the attack on their agent. From his jail cell, Nick finds an escape route and stumbles into a dungeon laboratory where he encounters Dr. Flammond. The doctor is being forced to create a terrible nuclear weapon called the Polaris Mine, which must be completed by Sunday or the East Germans will kill his daughter. When Nick accidently damages the weapon, police hear the commotion, enter the laboratory, and recapture him. As Nick stands before a firing squad, Streck receives orders to delay the singer’s execution until after the concert. During the performance, the audience of mostly young women screams wildly for Nick, until he is suddenly lifted above the stage and led away by Hillary Flammond. When she shows Nick a photograph of her father, he recognizes the scientist he saw at Flurgendorf. After evading East German police, Hillary and Nick proceed to a Swedish bookshop owned by a member of the Resistance and arrange to meet “the Torch” the following day. In the meantime, they spend the night in the loft above the bookshop, and Hillary tells Nick about being shipwrecked on a desert island as a child. Her only companion was a boy named Nigel and together they learned to survive, until one day he mysteriously disappeared, and she was eventually rescued by a passing ship. After Nick serenades Hillary, they make love. In the morning, Hillary and Nick are hidden in a horse-drawn wagon and taken to the farm hideout of the Resistance. When “the Torch” emerges, Hillary recognizes him as her long-lost Nigel, and they warmly embrace. Nick informs the Resistance that the Polaris Mine will be ready on Sunday, and gives them Dr. Flammond’s location. As Nigel and his men prepare to take action, Hillary tries to console a dejected Nick and convinces him to stay and help the cause. After East German soldiers ambush the Resistance hideout, Nigel assembles the group at the local pizzahaus and accuses Nick of being an imposter and traitor. To prove he is the real Nick Rivers, the singer turns on the jukebox and does an impromptu performance. Once again, the young women scream wildly. That evening, Nick joins Resistance fighters as they parachute toward Flurgendorf prison. During the operation, Hillary confesses her love to Nick, but she believes in the Resistance cause and does not want to abandon Nigel. Disguised as a cow, Nigel and one of his men access the generator and cut power to the prison, allowing the rest of the group to sneak into the facility and rescue Dr. Flammond, while Hillary waits with the getaway vehicle. However, Nigel is revealed as the real traitor when he tries to sabotage the operation, and kidnaps Hillary. As the others safeguard the doctor and take him to a British plane set to depart that night, Nick confiscates a motorcycle and prepares to rescue Hillary. At a bridge, Nick intercepts Nigel’s truck and grapples with the traitor as the two men fall into the river below. In an underwater fight, Nick overpowers Nigel, and he and Hillary hurry to rendezvous with Dr. Flammond. Meanwhile, the doctor anxiously waits for his daughter and refuses to leave without her, despite the pilot’s insistence they must take off before dawn. Just in time, Nick and Hillary arrive on the motorcycle, and she runs to embrace her father. Hillary is initially hesitant to leave East Germany and abandon the Resistance, but Nick convinces her to join him in America. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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