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15 Things You May Not Have Known About Beverly Hills Cop

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Beverly Hills Cop confirmed Eddie Murphy's status as a superstar. The action/comedy was, financially speaking, the number one movie of 1984, and its screenplay was nominated for an Oscar. What ended up becoming one of AFI's Top 100 comedies of all time was very close to becoming a completely different movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, more gunplay, and far less humor. Thirty years after its premiere is as good a time as any to read about the crazy behind-the-scenes journey that got Axel Foley from Detroit to Beverly Hills.

1. THE ORIGINAL IDEA FOR THE MOVIE CAME FROM A SPEEDING TICKET

In 1975, long before he would become the CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner was driving a beat-up station wagon around Hollywood, despite his impressive title of president at Paramount Studios. After he got a speeding ticket from a cop with "an air of superiority and quiet condescension," he bought himself a Mercedes and came up with the germ of an idea to make a movie about a Hollywood police officer. For what it's worth, Paramount executive Don Simpson allegedly claims Eisner was wrong, and that he came up with the idea himself.

2. IT TOOK OVER FIVE YEARS FOR SOMEONE TO GET THE SCRIPT RIGHT

Danillo Bach was hired to write the script, and in 1981 he submitted a draft titled Beverly Drive. In Beverly Drive, a Pittsburgh cop named Elly Axel shows up in Beverly Hills to investigate his friend's death. That loose plot remained throughout the remainder of the creative process. Michael Eisner felt that the draft, and all the others before it from different screenwriters, didn't capture the fish-out-of-water aspect enough.

Daniel Petrie Jr.'s script was the one Eisner, Don Simpson, and his fellow Paramount producer Jerry Bruckheimer liked. Petrie injected comedy into his version after talking to cops and noticing that they told "tremendously funny stories, punctuated by the most gruesome violence." He also nailed the outsider aspect Eisner desired, drawing from his experience as a poor writer walking to his expensive-looking Beverly Hills office past stores full of high-priced clothes and art that he could never afford.

3. MICKEY ROURKE WAS INITIALLY PAID TO PLAY AXEL FOLEY

With the project fast-tracked in 1983, Mickey Rourke was a hot commodity, fresh off his Diner performance as Boogie. Rourke made $400,000 by signing a holding contract, going back and forth with the studio and the writers on ideas for the script, and then walking away when his contract expired to look for work elsewhere.

4. SYLVESTER STALLONE SIGNED ON TO PLAY AXEL AND REWROTE THE MOVIE AS A SYLVESTER STALLONE MOVIE

Stallone reflected that when he first received the action/comedy script in the mail, he thought it was sent to the wrong house. The actor, who by 1983 had already written the first three Rocky movies and First Blood, re-wrote Beverly Hills Cop to better suit his strengths, making it into a pure action flick as it had been before Petrie Jr. took over script duties. In Stallone's ending, Axel drives a stolen Lamborghini towards a freight train being driven by the Big Bad.

5. STALLONE LEFT WEEKS BEFORE SHOOTING BECAUSE OF ORANGE JUICE. MAYBE.

The Hollywood legend is that Sylvester Stallone abandoned the project thanks to failed negotiations over what type of orange juice was to be kept in his trailer. The official explanation was that Stallone's script made the budget skyrocket, and Paramount did not want to spend all the extra money. A majority of Stallone's script went into his 1986 movie Cobra, and as a nod to Stallone's involvement, Judge Reinhold's character Billy Rosewood has posters of both Cobra and Rambo in his room in Beverly Hills Cop II.

6. EDDIE MURPHY IMPROVISED A LOT OF THE MOVIE

Murphy, coming off roles in 48 Hours and Trading Places, was brought in to save the day. Petrie Jr. came back and finished a final version of his script, but both he and director Martin Brest weren't completely satisfied. Brest encouraged Murphy to make up funny stuff on the spot, and Murphy came through on multiple occasions. The former SNL cast member rarely drank caffeine, but after drinking a cup of coffee, he ad-libbed his spirited "supercops" monologue.

7. AN ACTOR HELD THE MOVIE'S SCRIPT IN HIS HANDS WHILE SHOOTING, AND IT WAS KEPT IN THE FILM

With the screenplay reworked constantly, sometimes actors were given their lines right before they were supposed to say them. This was an issue for actor Stephen Elliott, who was caught with his rolled-up script in his hand as he was playing police chief Hubbard. Fortunately for him, his director thought it made him more look the part, and in the film, Elliott is holding those script pages.

8. MARTIN SCORCESE WAS THE FIRST CHOICE TO DIRECT

When Stallone was still signed up to play the lead, Scorcese was offered the director's chair. Scorcese was "bewildered," and dismissed the concept as too similar to the movie Coogan's Bluff. In that film, Clint Eastwood was a deputy sheriff from Arizona who travels to New York City to hand over a fugitive.

9. MARTIN BREST REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO DIRECT THE MOVIE

Martin Brest was fired from his second directing job, WarGames, and the industry thought he was damaged goods. Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer disagreed, and the two Paramount executives continually called Brest and asked him to direct Beverly Hills Cop. He kept declining, before eventually taking his phone off the hook. Simpson took the hint, but Bruckheimer kept trying, and to end the harassment, Brest decided to flip a coin to make his decision. The coin told him to take the job.

10. BRONSON PINCHOT ALMOST DIDN'T DO THE MOVIE BECAUSE HE WANTED TO GO TO ITALY

Pinchot's performance as Serge the gallerist, which led Brest to call Pinchot the "American Peter Sellers," helped him obtain his iconic role of Mypos native Balki Bartokomous on Perfect Strangers for seven seasons. But because of the movie's repeated production delays and his scheduled trip to Florence, Italy, Pinchot grew restless and said that if they didn't start production, he would have to drop out. Pinchot made this ultimatum despite being a virtual unknown.

11. THE REAL DETROIT POLICE WOULDN'T GO PLACES THE DIRECTOR WOULD

Most of the scenes set in Detroit were actually shot there. An off-duty police officer accompanied Martin Brest and his crew during filming, but he refused to go with them when they entered a housing project. Detroit PD was more helpful when producers were researching police procedures, though, when a detective took them to a murder site. Since the incident occurred across the street from Mumford High School, Eddie Murphy wears a Mumford shirt throughout the movie.

12. THREE SYNTHESIZERS WERE NEEDED TO RECORD 'AXEL F'

The classic instrumental theme written and performed by Harold Faltermeyer was made using a Roland Jupiter 8, a Roland JX-3P, and a Yamaha DX-7. The song reached #3 on the Billboard U.S. charts. Faltermeyer also co-wrote the Glenn Frey song "The Heat is On" for the film's soundtrack.

13. THE BEVERLY HILLS POLICE DEPARTMENT SET WAS BASED ON 'WARGAMES'

The Beverly Hills PD did not provide access to their headquarters, so Martin Brest and staff simply built a set that would look like the exact opposite of the Detroit police department, "like private security for all rich people." The set was influenced by Brest's original conceptual designs for the NORAD scenes in WarGames. Like Stallone would do with Cobra, Brest recycled his unused work because he felt that he spent too much time on it to never use it.

14. THE BANANA IN THE TAIL PIPE WAS A LAST SECOND FOOD CHOICE

In the script, Axel stuffs potatoes he stole from the hotel kitchen into the tail pipe of Rosewood and Taggart's car. Due to time constraints, no scene from the kitchen could be shot. Because the hotel lobby was already a location for a few scenes, the script was re-written so Axel takes bananas, with Damon Wayans' approval, from a buffet in the lobby.

15. 'BEVERLY HILLS COP 4' IS SLATED TO PREMIERE IN 2016

Beverly Hills Cop II was released in 1987 to mixed reviews but still made over $135 million, and the third movie only made $42 million in the United States. An updated TV series was pitched to CBS in 2013, but despite Eddie Murphy's participation, the network passed after seeing the pilot. All is not lost, because a primarily Detroit-based Beverly Hills Cop IV is due to arrive in March 2016, with Murphy reprising his role as Axel.

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Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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10 Fascinating Facts About Ella Fitzgerald
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the pioneering jazz singer who helped revolutionize the genre. But the iconic songstress’s foray into the music industry was almost accidental, as she had planned to show off her dancing skills when she made her stage debut. Celebrate the birthday of the artist known as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, or just plain ol’ Lady Ella with these fascinating facts.

1. SHE WAS A JAZZ FAN FROM A YOUNG AGE.

Though she attempted to launch her career as a dancer (more on that in a moment), Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and truly idolized Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. “She was tops at the time,” Fitzgerald said in 1988. “I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.”

2. SHE DABBLED IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AS A TEENAGER.

A photo of Ella Fitzgerald
Carl Van Vechten - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fitzgerald’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. Her stepfather was reportedly abusive to her, and that abuse continued following the death of Fitzgerald’s mother in 1932. Eventually, to escape the violence, she moved to Harlem to live with her aunt. While she had been a great student when she was younger, it was following that move that her dedication to education faltered. Her grades dropped and she often skipped school. But she found other ways to fill her days, not all of them legal: According to The New York Times, she worked for a mafia numbers runner and served as a police lookout at a local brothel. Her illicit activities eventually landed her in an orphanage, followed by a state reformatory.

3. SHE MADE HER STAGE DEBUT AT THE APOLLO THEATER.

In the early 1930s, Fitzgerald was able to make a little pocket change from the tips she made from passersby while singing on the streets of Harlem. In 1934, she finally got the chance to step onto a real (and very famous) stage when she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater on November 21, 1934. It was her stage debut.

The then-17-year-old managed to wow the crowd by channeling her inner Connee Boswell and belting out her renditions of “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won, and took home a $25 prize. Here’s the interesting part: She entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music.

4. A NURSERY RHYME HELPED HER GET THE PUBLIC’S ATTENTION.

Not long after her successful debut at the Apollo, Fitzgerald met bandleader Chick Webb. Though he was initially reluctant to hire her because of what The New York Times described as her “gawky and unkempt” appearance, her powerful voice won him over. "I thought my singing was pretty much hollering," she later said, "but Webb didn't."

Her first hit was a unique adaptation of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which she helped to write based on what she described as "that old drop-the-handkerchief game I played from 6 to 7 years old on up."

5. SHE WAS PAINFULLY SHY.

Though it certainly takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of the world, those who knew and worked with Fitzgerald said that she was extremely shy. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, trumpeter Mario Bauzá—who played with Fitzgerald in Chick Webb’s orchestra—explained that “she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music … She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."

6. SHE MADE HER FILM DEBUT IN AN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MOVIE.

As her IMDb profile attests, Fitzgerald contributed to a number of films and television series over the years, and not just to the soundtracks. She also worked as an actress on a handful of occasions (often an actress who sings), beginning with 1942’s Ride ‘Em Cowboy, a comedy-western starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

7. SHE GOT SOME HELP FROM MARILYN MONROE.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Fitzgerald said in a 1972 interview in Ms. Magazine. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him—and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status—that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard … After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Though it has often been reported that the club’s owner did not want to book Fitzgerald because she was black, it was later explained that his reluctance wasn’t due to Fitzgerald’s race; he apparently didn’t believe that she was “glamorous” enough for the patrons to whom he catered.

8. SHE WAS THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO WIN A GRAMMY.

Ella Fitzgerald
William P. Gottlieb - LOC, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Among her many other accomplishments, in 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. Actually, she won two awards that night: one for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and another for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook.

9. HER FINAL PERFORMANCE WAS AT CARNEGIE HALL.

On June 27, 1991, Fitzgerald—who had, at that point, recorded more than 200 albums—performed at Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she had performed at the venue, and it ended up being her final performance.

10. SHE LOST BOTH OF HER LEGS TO DIABETES.

In her later years, Fitzgerald suffered from a number of health problems. She was hospitalized a handful of times during the 1980s for everything from respiratory problems to exhaustion. She also suffered from diabetes, which took much of her eyesight and led to her having to have both of her legs amputated below the knee in 1993. She never fully recovered from the surgery and never performed again. She passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996.

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Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in May
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Warner Bros. Entertainment

While Netflix has got plenty of laughs in store for its streaming customers next month, the loss of several contemporary classic films likes Goodfellas, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Ocean’s Eleven, and The Hurt Locker means that if you’re in desperate need of a British rom-com fix or badass Scorsese crime drama fix, you’d better start streaming. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in May.

MAY 1

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Casper
Chappie
Charlotte’s Web
Field of Dreams
Goodfellas
Ocean’s Eleven
Sahara
Silent Hill
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Hurt Locker
To Rome With Love
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

MAY 2

12 Dates of Christmas
Beauty & the Briefcase
Cadet Kelly
Camp Rock
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Cow Belles
Cyberbully
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls 2
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls: One World
Frenemies
Geek Charming
Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas
Hello Sister, Goodbye Life
High School Musical
High School Musical 2
Jump In!
Lemonade Mouth
Little Einsteins: Seasons 1 – 2
My Fake Fiancé
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
Phineas and Ferb: Seasons 1 – 4
Princess Protection Program
Princess: A Modern Fairytale
Read It and Weep
Revenge of the Bridesmaids
Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure
Special Agent Oso: Seasons 1 – 2
StarStruck
Teen Spirit
The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Seasons 1 – 5
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie

MAY 7

The Host

MAY 12

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

MAY 30

Disney’s The Jungle Book

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