• Jeff South

Other Summer Movies of the 80s: Top Secret!


Released: June 22, 1984


Val Kilmer: Nick Rivers

Lucy Gutteridge: Hillary Flammond

Peter Cushing: Bookstore Proprietor

Jeremy Kemp: General Streck

Christopher Villiers: Nigel

Michael Gough: Dr. Flammond

Jim Carter: Deja Vu

Eddie Tagoe: Chocolate Mousse


Written by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Martyn Burke


Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker


Rated PG


The summer of '84 is memorable to me for three reasons. First, the music was amazing. The eclectic array of songs in the top 40 was glorious and most of it never got old. Second, the movies were huge. Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Natural, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, The Karate Kid, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Sixteen Candles, and Purple Rain all came out that summer. I was at the movies almost every week that summer and the best part of that was going with a girl I was dating. Yes, I had another summer girlfriend and that's the third reason the summer of '84 was so wonderful.


One night, after we had been dating for a few a couple of weeks, the girl's parents invited me to have dinner with them and go to the movies. The idea of a double date with my girlfriend's parents seem odd to me, but she put me at ease and told me that just wanted to get to know me better. A simple background check would've sufficed, but I did get a nice spaghetti dinner out of it. Her parents were lovely and treated us to the movies afterward. We saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and it was a great time. The theater that night was offering cheaper ticket prices because it was a weeknight, so her parents offered to take us to a second picture. Top Secret!, the follow-up feature from the guys who made Airplane!, was showing on the second screen so we sat down to enjoy.


Now, I had been excited about seeing this spoof of Elvis musicals and war movies, but I don't think my girlfriend nor her parents knew what they were getting. While I wept with laughter, they groaned and questioned the existence of a benevolent God. At one point, in a brilliant gag, Val Kilmer's Nick Rivers (the Elvis-esque hero) is upset that his love interest, Hillary, has reunited with her former lover. He brilliantly delivers a recap of the entire story to her and she responds with "I know, but it all sounds like some bad movie." What follows is a beautifully timed take to the fourth wall. I was rolling.


"Amen!" shouted my girlfriend's mom at the screen and I wondered at that moment if she thought I was right for her daughter.






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