Hot Shots! (1991)

PG-13 | 85 mins | Comedy | 31 July 1991

Director:

Jim Abrahams

Producer:

Bill Badalato

Cinematographer:

Bill Butler

Production Designer:

William A. Elliott

Production Company:

Twentieth Century Fox
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HISTORY

Although a 25 Jan 1990 DV article announced that Hot Shots would go before cameras in the fall of 1990, a 1 Dec 1990 Screen International news item indicated that principal photography would not start until Jan 1991. DV described the picture as “a parody” of fighter pilot films, citing Top Gun (1986, see entry) as a particular reference. Screen International stated that actor George C. Scott had been cast as the fighter pilots’ “gruff commander.” However, by the time production began, he had been replaced by Lloyd Bridges, as indicated by a 15 Jan 1991 HR production chart for Hot Shots! An Important Movie. Whether this title was an actual working title, or an irreverent nod to the “spoof” nature of the project, could not be determined.
       A 22 Jan 1991 HR news brief suggested that Richard Riehle had joined the cast of Hot Shots, but the actor does not appear in the film. According to a 31 Jan 1991 Hollywood Drama-Logue casting advertisement, filmmakers hoped to find “lookalikes” to play the roles of “Mother Teresa,” “Charles Manson,” and “Gregory Peck.” None of these characters appear in the picture.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files confirm that principal photography began 10 Jan 1991. The three-month shoot took place in and around Los Angeles, CA, as well as at the site of the defunct Marineland in Palos Verdes, where filmmakers created a “land-based” aircraft carrier. An enormous deck was built along the edge of a cliff, which allowed the camera crew to capitalize on the geographic position ... More Less

Although a 25 Jan 1990 DV article announced that Hot Shots would go before cameras in the fall of 1990, a 1 Dec 1990 Screen International news item indicated that principal photography would not start until Jan 1991. DV described the picture as “a parody” of fighter pilot films, citing Top Gun (1986, see entry) as a particular reference. Screen International stated that actor George C. Scott had been cast as the fighter pilots’ “gruff commander.” However, by the time production began, he had been replaced by Lloyd Bridges, as indicated by a 15 Jan 1991 HR production chart for Hot Shots! An Important Movie. Whether this title was an actual working title, or an irreverent nod to the “spoof” nature of the project, could not be determined.
       A 22 Jan 1991 HR news brief suggested that Richard Riehle had joined the cast of Hot Shots, but the actor does not appear in the film. According to a 31 Jan 1991 Hollywood Drama-Logue casting advertisement, filmmakers hoped to find “lookalikes” to play the roles of “Mother Teresa,” “Charles Manson,” and “Gregory Peck.” None of these characters appear in the picture.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files confirm that principal photography began 10 Jan 1991. The three-month shoot took place in and around Los Angeles, CA, as well as at the site of the defunct Marineland in Palos Verdes, where filmmakers created a “land-based” aircraft carrier. An enormous deck was built along the edge of a cliff, which allowed the camera crew to capitalize on the geographic position of the peninsula and capture panoramic ocean views, giving the illusion of being “out at sea.” Production continued in a converted airplane hangar at the Santa Monica airport, as well as on sound stages at Occidental Studios. Filming ended 11 Apr 1991.
       Although not listed in end credits, Hollywood Animals and Worldwide Movie Animals managed the various dogs and cats that appear in the film. In addition, wolf handler Gayle Phelps reprised her role from Dances With Wolves (1990, see entry), training the wolves for the scenes which spoof that movie.
       A “partial list” of the following films lampooned in Hot Shots! is included in production notes: Test Pilot (1938), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Gone with the Wind (1940), International Squadron (1941), A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941), Flying Tigers (1942), Air Force (1943), Wing and a Prayer (1944), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1945), Flat Top (1952), West Side Story (1961), The War Lover (1962), Patton (1970), The Godfather (1972), Marathon Man (1976), Rocky (1976), The Great Santini (1980), An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), The Right Stuff (1983), Nine and a Half Weeks (1986), Biloxi Blues (1988), Days of Thunder (1990), Fire Birds (1990, see entries), as well as the British films Breaking the Sound Barrier (1952) and Dam Busters (1955), and the aforementioned, Top Gun.
       Various contemporary sources remarked on the film’s botched Hollywood premiere. Although scheduled to screen at a theater in Westwood on 25 Jul 1991, a power outage necessitated relocating guests to screening rooms on the Twentieth Century Fox lot. A 29 Jul 1991 HR news item made light of the incident, calling it an “unintentional spoof” of a premiere. The film received wide theatrical release on 31 Jul 1991, and one contemporary source reported a first-day box-office gross of $2 million. Hot Shots! took in approximately $15 million in its first five days, according to a 6 Aug 1991 full-page advertisement in DV. A 24 Dec 1991 DV article cited a total domestic gross of $70.3 million and anticipated a successful overseas release.
       End credits are interspersed with the following recipes and jokes:
       “Topping for brownies: ½ cup butter; 2¼ cups confectioner’s sugar; 2 egg yolks, beaten; 3 squares bitter chocolate, melted; 1 or 2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional). Cream butter until light and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar and egg yolks. Beat well. Add chocolate.”
       “Things to do after the movie: start a story hour at the local library; help someone learn to read; teach someone to use a computer; help someone learn to speak a new language; organize a physical fitness program; visit a dairy and see how milk is handled and prepared for delivery.”
       “Nobby buns: 4 cups sifted flour; 1½ cups sugar; 2 teaspoons cinnamon; 1 cup butter; 3 eggs. Cream butter until well softened and add to sugar and eggs. Mix quickly with flour. Drop mixture from a teaspoon in small jagged heaps onto a cookie sheet and bake in 375 to 400 degree oven.”
       End credits extend “special thanks" to: East Kern Airport District; Dan Sabovitch; Nelson Brown; Mojave Airport Office and Tower Staff; United States Office of the Interior; Bureau of Land Management; Thomas Gey; Andy Tenney; Star B Ranch; Ken Childs; Louis Equipment; American International Car Rental. End credits also include: “Scenes from Flight of the Intruder courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Garfield: © 1978 United Feature Syndicate, Inc.”; and conclude with the following: “If you had left this theatre when these credits began, you’d be home by now.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1990
p. 44.
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1991
p. 3, 25.
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1991.
---
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1991
p. 1, 10.
Hollywood Drama-Logue
31 Jan 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1991
p. 8, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 Jul 1991
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
31 Jul 1991
Section C, p. 11.
Screen International
1 Dec 1990.
---
Variety
5 Aug 1991
p. 93.
Village View
2-8 Aug 1991
p. 15.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit flying sequences dir by
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir by
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
&
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st unit cam op, Crew dept head
Chief lighting tech, Crew dept head
Key grip, Crew dept head
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Still photog
Elec best boy
Elec
Rigging elec
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Rigging grip
Video asst op
Video playback
2d unit cam op
2d unit cam asst
Dir of photog, Aerial unit
Cam op, Aerial unit
Cam op, Aerial unit
1st asst cam, Aerial unit
1st asst cam, Aerial unit
1st asst cam, Aerial unit
1st asst cam, Aerial unit
2d asst cam, Aerial unit
2d asst cam, Aerial unit
2d asst cam, Aerial unit
2d asst cam, Aerial unit
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir, Crew dept head
Storyboard illustrator
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
and
Ed
Post prod supv, Crew dept head
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Post prod asst
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec, Crew dept head
Prop master, Crew dept head
Const coord, Crew dept head
Leadman
On set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Asst prop
Asst prop
Asst prop
Set des
Const foreman
Const
Key painter
Painter
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
Scoring mixer
Copyist
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Mus contractor
Solo guitar
Electronic mus rec by
SOUND
Sd des & supv
Sd des & supv
Sd mixer, Crew dept head
2d boom
Supv ADR ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd eff rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Machine op
Machine op
A.D.R. rec
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Foley artist
Foley artist
Post prod facilities
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff coord, Crew dept head
Spec eff coord, Crew dept head
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
Miniature eff by
Head model maker, Sessums Engineering
Miniature unit dir/D.P., Sessums Engineering
Unit prod, Sessums Engineering
Film crew op, Sessums Engineering
Film crew 1st asst cam, Sessums Engineering
Film crew key grip, Sessums Engineering
Film crew prod asst, Sessums Engineering
Film crew pyrotechnician, Sessums Engineering
Model crew, Sessums Engineering
Model crew, Sessums Engineering
Model crew, Sessums Engineering
Set crew, Sessums Engineering
Set crew, Sessums Engineering
Set crew, Sessums Engineering
Set crew, Sessums Engineering
Set crew, Sessums Engineering
Set crew, Sessums Engineering
Special visual eff by
Visual eff supv, Dreamquest Images
Visual eff prod, Dreamquest Images
Visual eff exec prod, Dreamquest Images
Visual eff ed, Dreamquest Images
Asst ed, Dreamquest Images
Anim supv, Dreamquest Images
Anim dept mgr, Dreamquest Images
Rotoscope supv, Dreamquest Images
Sr matte artist, Dreamquest Images
Matte photog, Dreamquest Images
Motion control supv, Dreamquest Images
Motion control supv, Dreamquest Images
Motion control tech, Dreamquest Images
Motion control tech, Dreamquest Images
Bluescreen supv, Dreamquest Images
Model shop supv, Dreamquest Images
Model shop foreman, Dreamquest Images
Opt supv, Dreamquest Images
Opt line up, Dreamquest Images
Opt cam, Dreamquest Images
Opt cam, Dreamquest Images
Opt processing, Dreamquest Images
Coord, Dreamquest Images
Prod asst, Dreamquest Images
Duck animatronics
CWI project supv
Spec eff anim and opticals
Visual eff supv, Available Light Ltd.
Visual eff supv, Available Light Ltd.
Animator, Available Light Ltd.
Opt supv, Available Light Ltd.
Anim photog, Available Light Ltd.
Eff coord, Available Light Ltd.
Anim artwork, Available Light Ltd.
Process compositing by
Process compositing by
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup des, Crew dept head
Hairstylist, Crew dept head
Mr. Sheen's makeup, Crew dept head
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Spec makeup eff created by
Spec makeup eff created by
Spec makeup eff created by
Spec makeup eff created by
Spec makeup eff created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv, Crew dept head
Aerial unit mgr, Crew dept head
Aerial tech coord, Crew dept head
Prod accountant, Crew dept head
Prod coord, Crew dept head
Prod assoc, Crew dept head
Prod assoc, Crew dept head
Transportation coord, Crew dept head
Transportation coord, Crew dept head
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Badalato
Asst to Mr. Abrahams
Unit pub
2d unit scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Casting asst
Extras casting
Voice casting
Animal handler
Animal handler
Buffalo and wolf supplied by
Asst prod accountant
Accounting asst
Accounting asst
Accounting asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Sheen
Asst to Mr. Elwes
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
First aid
First aid
Masseuse
Craft service
Projectionist
Mount tech, Aerial unit
Cine-exec vector vision crew, Aerial unit
Cine-exec vector vision crew, Aerial unit
Cine-exec vector vision crew, Aerial unit
Cine-exec vector vision crew, Aerial unit
Cine-exec vector vision crew, Aerial unit
Maintenance tech, Aerial unit
Maintenance tech, Aerial unit
Maintenance tech, Aerial unit
Aerial coord/Pilot, Aerial unit
Aircraft & pilots provided by, Aerial unit
Aircraft & pilots provided by, Aerial unit
Pilot, Aerial unit
Pilot, Aerial unit
Pilot, Aerial unit
Pilot, Aerial unit
Prod coord, Aerial unit
Set prod asst, Aerial unit
Prod asst, Aerial unit
Prod asst, Aerial unit
Prod asst, Aerial unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord/Charlie Sheen's stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Dream Lover," written by Bobby Darin, performed by Dion
"What The World Needs Now Is Love," written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
"The Brady Bunch Theme," written by Sherwood Schwartz and Frank DeVol
+
SONGS
"Dream Lover," written by Bobby Darin, performed by Dion
"What The World Needs Now Is Love," written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
"The Brady Bunch Theme," written by Sherwood Schwartz and Frank DeVol
"The Man I Love," written by George and Ira Gershwin, performed by Valeria Golino and Rachel Sweet
"Dirty Looks," written by George Karras, performed by Dick Tracey, courtesy of Walter Kahn/Sunshine Entertainment/Scully Music
"Serenade In Blue," written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon
"Only You (And You Alone)," written by Buck Ram and Ando Rand, performed by Kenny James
"It's Not Unusual," written by Les Reed and Gordon Mills, performed by Tom Jones, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"U Can't Touch This," written by M. C. Hammer, Rick James and Alonzo Miller, performed by M. C. Hammer, courtesy of Capitol Records by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Hot Shots! An Important Movie
Release Date:
31 July 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 July 1991
Production Date:
10 January--11 April 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
2 August 1991
Copyright Number:
PA529916
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo SR® in selected theatres
Sound
This film recorded in a Lucasfilm Ltd THX® sound system theatre
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
85
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31303
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1971, Navy fighter pilot Leland “Buzz” Harley soars through the skies with reckless abandon, agitating his co-pilot, Dominick “Mail Man” Farnham. In pursuit of an enemy plane, Buzz pushes the aircraft past its speed limit, and he and Mail Man are forced to eject. Entangled by his seat belt, Mail Man crash lands in a forest. He survives, but is shot by hunters who mistake him for a deer. Twenty years later, Navy Lieutenant Commander Block drives to a remote Indian reservation to convince Buzz Harley’s son, Sean “Topper” Harley, to return to the Navy for a special mission, but Topper, who lives in a teepee and goes by the name “Fluffy Bunny Feet,” is not interested. However, Owatonna, “The Old One,” encourages the reluctant pilot to go. En route to Dudley Naval Air Station in California, Topper notices a beautiful woman riding horseback in a meadow, and attempts to impress her by performing tricks on his motorcycle. When Topper arrives at the barracks, he introduces himself to new recruits. He is dismayed to learn that fellow pilot Jim “Wash Out” Pfaffenbach suffers an acute vision disorder. As Topper unpacks, Pete “Dead Meat” Thompson asks about his family and loved ones, but Topper declares he has no time for love. Topper notices ace pilot Kent Gregory on a nearby cot, and wonders if they have ever met. With great disdain, Kent reveals that he is Dominick “Mail Man” Farnham’s son, before suggesting that Buzz Harley’s antics caused his father’s death. Topper refuses to believe the accusation. Dead Meat reminds the two men they are friends, not foes, and Topper and Kent reluctantly shake hands. Later, Topper reports for ... +


In 1971, Navy fighter pilot Leland “Buzz” Harley soars through the skies with reckless abandon, agitating his co-pilot, Dominick “Mail Man” Farnham. In pursuit of an enemy plane, Buzz pushes the aircraft past its speed limit, and he and Mail Man are forced to eject. Entangled by his seat belt, Mail Man crash lands in a forest. He survives, but is shot by hunters who mistake him for a deer. Twenty years later, Navy Lieutenant Commander Block drives to a remote Indian reservation to convince Buzz Harley’s son, Sean “Topper” Harley, to return to the Navy for a special mission, but Topper, who lives in a teepee and goes by the name “Fluffy Bunny Feet,” is not interested. However, Owatonna, “The Old One,” encourages the reluctant pilot to go. En route to Dudley Naval Air Station in California, Topper notices a beautiful woman riding horseback in a meadow, and attempts to impress her by performing tricks on his motorcycle. When Topper arrives at the barracks, he introduces himself to new recruits. He is dismayed to learn that fellow pilot Jim “Wash Out” Pfaffenbach suffers an acute vision disorder. As Topper unpacks, Pete “Dead Meat” Thompson asks about his family and loved ones, but Topper declares he has no time for love. Topper notices ace pilot Kent Gregory on a nearby cot, and wonders if they have ever met. With great disdain, Kent reveals that he is Dominick “Mail Man” Farnham’s son, before suggesting that Buzz Harley’s antics caused his father’s death. Topper refuses to believe the accusation. Dead Meat reminds the two men they are friends, not foes, and Topper and Kent reluctantly shake hands. Later, Topper reports for a psychological examination, where he discovers that his psychiatrist, Ramada Thompson, is the woman he saw in the horse meadow. She ignores his flirtatious advances, asking instead about his feelings regarding his father. Topper claims he does not think about the past. As he leaves the office, Ramada warns him to be careful. Heedless of her advice, he stumbles headlong into a mess of exposed electrical wires dangling from the ceiling. Later, the absent-minded Admiral Benson briefs the pilots for a training run in anticipation of operation “Sleepy Weasel.” In the air, despite a disturbing reminiscence of his father, Topper proves that he has not lost his flying prowess. Afterward, Topper runs into Ramada and flirts shamelessly with her, but when she announces her intention to ground him from flying, he storms off. That night, Lt. Commander Block attends a professional boxing match, where he exchanges information with the unscrupulous Mr. Wilson, a manufacturer of “super-fighter” jets. Block confirms that Topper Harley is mentally unstable and certain to cause some kind of incident. Wilson notes that they can blame the mishap on inferior plane construction, and force the U.S. to buy new planes from his company. At a nearby nightclub, the fighter pilots socialize as Ramada Thompson sings a sultry rendition of a jazz standard. Kent Gregory, Ramada’s former lover, watches with suspicion as she directs her performance to Topper Harley. Kent confronts the pilot, but Ramada breaks up the fight. Appeased, Kent kisses her goodnight. Ramada allows Topper to walk her home, before inviting him inside. The two spend an intimate evening together. The next day, before heading out for training exercises, Dead Meat and Wash Out wonder where Topper is. Wash Out, suspended due to his vision problem, laments the loss of their best pilot. Dead Meat walks arm in arm with his wife, Mary, who enthuses about their perfect life. On a whim, Wash Out dons Topper’s helmet and flies out with the squad. However, his poor eyesight causes him to collide with Dead Meat’s aircraft. Although Wash Out parachutes to safety, Dead Meat crashes. He survives the accident, but dies in the hospital at the hands of incompetent doctors. At the funeral, Lt. Commander Block meets with Mr. Wilson and insists they move forward with their plan. Wilson disagrees, thinking it would make more of an impact if the malfunction were to occur in combat. Frustrated, Block leaves. Later that day, Topper visits Ramada and confides his desire to resign from the Navy. She convinces him that the Sleepy Weasel team needs him. Topper professes his love for her, but she needs time to think. The pilot joins his squad on the S. S. Essess, an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. There, Admiral Benson orders the men to destroy a nuclear weapons plant located in Falafel Heights. When Topper Harley is designated lead pilot, Kent Gregory protests. Lt. Commander Block dismisses the criticism of Topper’s temperament. The pilots prepare for takeoff, unaware that a mechanic working for Mr. Wilson has sabotaged one of the jets. In the air, enemy fighters approach, and Topper, overcome with memories of his father, disengages from formation. Block tells the pilots to abort the mission, but it is too late. Enemy aircraft surround them. In desperation, Block recalls Buzz Harvey’s bravery on the day of Mail Man’s death, jolting Topper out of his reverie. With a renewed sense of purpose, Topper joins the fight. He discovers that his weapons system is jammed, but destroys four enemy fighters using gravity-defying evasive maneuvers. He proceeds to Falafel Heights, where he drops a missile on Saddam Hussein and the nuclear plant. The Sleepy Weasel squadron returns to the aircraft carrier, where everyone celebrates Topper’s heroic deeds. After Lt. Commander Block apologizes for his liaison with Mr. Wilson, Admiral Benson apprehends the crook. The warship returns to California, and amidst the homecoming fanfare, Topper searches for Ramada. He sees her in an embrace with Kent Gregory, and mistakenly assumes they have reunited. Dejected, he returns to the Indian reservation. However, when he arrives, Ramada is already there. She welcomes him into her arms with a kiss. +

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

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