Film: Beverly Hills Cop

"Trust me!"

Beverly Hills Cop (1984) is the movie that made Eddie Murphy a star. Axel Foley (Murphy) is a hip, street-smart detective in early 1980s Detroit; as something of a loose cannon, he's not well respected by Da Chief, but the other guys on the force love him. One day, an old friend of his visits — then ends up killed by hitmen just outside Axel's apartment. Despite being warned away from the case Axel, determined to find out what happened, takes vacation time and follows the killers' trail back to Beverly Hills, California.

Hilarity Ensues as Axel adjusts to the more straight-laced world of Beverly Hills, using his comedic timing and unflappability to get himself out of some sticky situations. As he tries to build a case againt the Mooks that killed his friend back in Detroit, he manages to talk his way into (and out of) the Beverly Hills jail, his hotel, a bonded warehouse, a country club, and more. Just when he's about to crack the case, the Big Bad arrives and kidnaps his not-quite-love-interest, Jeannette Summers (Lisa Eilbacher), forcing the Beverly Hills police detectives he's been trying to win over to come and help. The movie ends in a massive, scenery-chewing shootout at the villain's huge mansion, with the local detectives learning that sometimes bending the rules isn't so bad after all.

The film was followed by two sequels: Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994).

Beverly Hills Cop provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Axel's beat up old Chevy Nova, which is apparently a Running Gag between him and Jeannette.
  • Audit Threat: When Axel is caught illegally searching for evidence, he pretends to be a customs inspector and threatens a bonded warehouse employee who questions his authority with a security audit. The employee drops his objections.
  • Bad Omen Anecdote: Billy explicitly calls out the Bolivian Army Ending of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid near the end, when he and Taggart are pinned down by enemy gunfire. It's clear that he is having the time of his life while doing so. Taggart, on the other hand, is less than amused.
  • Banana in the Tailpipe: To throw Taggart and Rosewood off his trail, Axel orders food delivered to their car, which is outside the hotel. While they are distracted, he borrows a bunch of bananas from an obliging fellow and stuffs them in the car's tailpipe. When they attempt to follow him, it stalls out. Bogomil reams them out for it, and Foster and McCabe, the team that is eventually reassigned to tail Axel, teases Billy by giving him an "anti-banana disguise" (a pair of gag glasses with a banana for a nose).
  • Banana Peel: A man driving a tractor-trailer rig full of stolen cigarettes intentionally runs into a fruit truck, causing it to spill its contents all over the road. This causes a transit bus to slip on the fruit and go into a spin.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: It starts with Axel, dressed in jeans and a hoodie, bluffing his way into a suite at the Beverly Palm Hotel by pretending to be a freelance reporter doing an exclusive interview of Michael Jackson for Rolling Stone and threatening to call the hotel staff racists. The theme continues throughout all three films.
  • Big Bad: Victor Maitland.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Occurs twice. The first time comes after Axel tells Billy to Wait Here outside Maitland's warehouse, and Billy is subsequently forced to go rescue him. The second is when Bogomil bursts in on the Mexican Standoff between Axel and Maitland, with Jeannette as the hostage.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Taggart and Rosewood, the cops assigned to watch Axel and whom he eventually befriends.
  • Bikini Bar: Axel visits one with Taggart and Rosewood in tow, then ends up breaking up a robbery.
  • Black and Nerdy: Detective Foster, one-half of the second team assigned to shadow Axel, who has no problem lampshading it:
    McCabe: We're the first team.
    Foster: Yeah, and we're not gonna fall for a banana in the tailpipe.
    Axel: [nasally voice] You're not gonna fall for the banana in the tailpipe? [normal voice] It should be more natural, brother. It should flow out, like this - "Look, man, I ain't fallin' for no banana in my tailpipe!" See, that's more natural for us. You been hanging out with this dude too long.
  • Blatant Lies: Bogomil's cover story at the end about Axel being part of a multijurisdictional task force on organized crime is so obviously made up on the spot that the police chief is on the verge of cracking up over it, but he lets it pass, given the incredible nature of the bust they've just pulled off.
    Chief: You actually expect me to believe that report, Lieutenant?
    Bogomil: That's the report I'm filing, sir.
    Chief: [looks around at the other cops] Sergeant Taggart, why don't you tell me what really happened?
    Taggart: It happened... exactly the way the lieutenant said it did, sir.
    Chief: [beat] Well... I guess congratulations are in order. That report had better be on my desk in the morning. [leaves]
    Axel: You were lying your ass off!
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Discussed by Rosewood during the big shootout, to Taggart's horror.
    Rosewood: You know what I keep thinking about? You know the end of Butch Cassidy? Redford and Newman are almost out of ammunition, and the whole Bolivian army is out- out in front of this little hut?
    Taggart: Billy, I'm gonna make you pay for this.
  • By-the-Book Cop: The basic premise of the film is the contrast between Axel's Cowboy Cop methods and the by-the-book methods of the Beverly Hills police department. Over the course of the story, Taggart, Rosewood, and Bogomil all ease up to varying degrees.
    • Billy starts to idolize Axel and, in the second film, takes a level in badass to emulate him.
    • Taggart learns to trust his instincts and act on probable cause, but he's always angry about it.
    • Bogomil lies blatantly to the police chief in order to cover for Axel at the end.
  • Catch Phrase: Axel: "Trust me!" Jeffrey: "This is not my [locker/office]!" Todd: "You're damn right!"
  • The Cavalry: The entire Beverly Hills police force shows up just in the nick of time to rescue Taggart and Rosewood.
  • Character Development: Both Rosewood and Taggart have moments when they are forced to abandon their By-the-Book Cop methods in order to rescue Axel and Jeannette, respectively.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Billy shows symptoms of this, with Taggart getting to play straight man to his bizarre non-sequiturs.
    Billy: It says here that, by the age of 40, the average American has more than five pounds of undigested red meat in his bowels.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Axel's speech is littered with profanity, which is deliberately contrasted with the Beverly Hills cops' elaborate politeness. When Axel is first being interrogated, his F-bomb gets him punched in the stomach by Taggart, after which Bogomil offers to allow him to press charges. Axel is visibly surprised by this.
    Taggart: We're more likely to believe an important local businessman than a foul-mouthed jerk from out of town.
    Axel: "Foul-mouthed"? Fuck you, man.
  • Cowboy Cop: In the opening, Axel is running a sting operation with a truckload of stolen cigarettes. The problem is that he didn't tell anyone he was doing so, leading to a beat cop blowing the deal. Inspector Todd chews him out over this, implying that it's hardly the first time he's gone off without authorization.
  • Da Chief: Foley's boss, Inspector Todd, who was played by an actual Detroit cop.
    Axel: Wait a second, look. I just thought, that if there was a problem -
    Todd: Don't think, Axel! It makes my dick itch!
    • Also, Chief Hubbard of the Beverly Hills Police Department. He has a different style than Todd, but is just as stern.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Taggart and Billy exchange straight man and funny guy roles throughout the film, but usually it's Taggart snarking at something Billy says. Axel also alternates between deadpan and overtly laughing at the antics of the Beverly Hills cops.
  • Destination Defenestration: Axel: "I was thrown. Through. A fucking. Window!"
  • The Dragon: Zack is Maitland's bodyguard and apparent enforcer-in-chief; Axel flips him into a buffet table in their first encounter, and shoots him dead in their last.
  • '80s Hair: Thanks to some of the female hairstyles in the second movie, it's much more obviously set in a wealthy neighborhood in The '80s than the first.
  • Evil Brit: Maitland
  • Former Teen Rebel: Axel, who "fractured an occasional law".
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you frame-by-frame the scene where Axel throws Zack over the buffet table, you can clearly see the faces of their stunt doubles.
  • Funny Foreigner: Serge (played by Bronson Pinchot), one of Jeannette's employees at the gallery, has a truly absurd accent that goes entirely unexplained.
  • Guile Hero: Axel may be a good shot, but the majority of the headway he makes in the course of his investigations comes from his ability to talk his way through a situation and influence people who have something he needs.
  • Hollywood Law: Axel sneaks into Maitland's warehouse, then pulls a Bavarian Fire Drill to get them to open a crate, but told Billy he couldn't help because, as a Beverly Hills officer, it would be an illegal search. However, Axel is technically an agent of BHPD, making his (illegal) search a violation of Maitland's Fourth Amendment rights. While he also knew the manager and could ask for permission, this wouldn't permit him to open crates.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: By the time Eddie Murphy was attached to the project, the script had been shopped around considerably and rewritten several times. Many of the funniest scenes just resulted from Eddie and the other actors improvising in place of the scripted lines.
  • Ignoring by Singing: After messing up the cigarette sting operation Axel is bothered by Jeffrey. Axel uses the "la la la" version while trying to get Jeffrey to stop.
    Foley: I am not listening to you.
    Jeffrey: Great. Real mature.
    Foley: I am not listening to Jeffrey, but he's still talking.
    Jeffrey: I hate when you do that.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Maitland's goons apparently trained on how to shoot up statuary rather than people; despite rocking out at full-auto with their Uzis, they can't hit anything.
  • It Came from Beverly Hills: If the title didn't clue you in already, most of the film's action takes place in Beverly Hills and its environs.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Axel has no jurisdiction in Beverly Hills but manages to bluff his way through an investigation with a quick badge flash and/or straight-up lying.
  • Leitmotif: The instrumental piece "Axel F" has become a sort of national anthem for The '80s.
  • Lemming Cops: When the Beverly Hills cops are driving en masse into Maitland's mansion, some of his mooks try a getaway only to crash and cause the entire line of police cars to get into a chain of rear-end collisions, and Bogomil to break his By-the-Book Cop face to exclaim, "Oh, shit!"
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Detective Billy Rosewood is generally a nice guy, although somewhat naive and dim-witted. Do not aim, or worse yet, fire, a gun at him. You will see the flash, the bullet will kill you, and your dead ears will never hear the report. He never needs a second shot.
  • Mexican Standoff: Occurs briefly at the end of the first movie, with Axel squaring off against Maitland, with Jeannette as hostage. Bogomill breaks it up by entering the scene, giving her an opportunity to break free and giving the two cops a clear shot.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A gangland style murder and some German bearer bonds lead Axel to uncover a large cocaine smuggling operation.
  • No Warrant No Problem: This is Axel Foley's modus operandi (especially because he's a Detroit cop, and thus has no jurisdiction), but one example stands out on the first film, where he makes a Lampshade Hanging that he has no probable cause to check Maitland's warehouse for drugs (to keep Officer Rosewood from following him), and pulls a Bavarian Fire Drill on the guards involving Audit Threats when they think it's wrong for him to be there.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Beverly Hills police have some traits of this, but come around in the end.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Not exactly intentional on his part, but the police and criminals of Beverly Hills alike mistake Axel's less than textbook approach as ignorance and stupidity. That doesn't stop him from taking advantage of their underestimation.
    • He also deliberately uses a "foolish black man" act several times to get past people by convincing them he's just a simpleminded servant.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: When Axel gets shot in the shoulder by Maitland, he keeps going on one arm. It's even lampshaded near the end.
    Chief Hubbard: "What is that man doing here?"
    Axel: "Bleeding, sir."
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Axel keeps his service automatic shoved into his belt, behind his back.
  • Playing Drunk: While at the bikini bar with Taggart and Rosewood, Axel pretends to be drunk to make a suspected armed robber think he's harmless and get close enough to take him out.
  • Precision F-Strike: When the Beverly Hills cops curse, it's a sign of a significant OOC Is Serious Business moment.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Inspector Bogomil, who in early scenes comes off as a by-the-book Obstructive Bureaucrat, proves himself one of these when he actually listens to Axel's theories about Maitland and launches an investigation. Later, he overhears that Axel and two of his officers are Storming the Castle without authorization. Instead of getting angry, he assumes they have a good reason and responds by sending half of the Beverly Hills Police department to back them up, while arming himself to personally join the gunfight.
    Dispatcher: Sir, reports of shots fired, same location. 609 Palm Canyon Road.
    Bogomil: as he straps on a holster and his personal weapon: Put it out as a nine-nine-eight! Officers need assistance! Undercovers on scene!
    Dispatcher: Sir?
    Bogomil: Do it! I want all North End units to roll, South End units stay in their location. Damn!
    Dispatcher: All units, 609 Palm Canyon Road. Undercover officers at location.
  • Saved by the Awesome: It's strongly implied that the reason the police chief lets Bogomil get away with his Blatant Lies at the end is the magnitude of the drug bust that was just made.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Some of Maitland's security goons try a getaway upon realizing that the entire Beverly Hills police force is on its way into the mansion.
  • Sherlock Scan: At the bikini bar, Axel is able to determine that two guys are about to rob the place solely on the fact that they were wearing overcoats in the middle of June.
  • Signature Laugh: Axel, so much that it was used in all the advertising.
  • Stealing from the Hotel: Axel loves his hotel's bathrobes. When Taggart offers to buy him one to take home, he tells them he's already got a couple in his bags.
  • Storming the Castle: Maitland's mansion, with one of the most hilarious shootout scenes ever filmed.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Axel gets into a Federal Customs facility merely by hopping a fence, then flashing his badge to the first person he sees and ordering everyone around. They assume that, if he's inside the perimeter, he must belong inside the perimeter.
    • Moreover, when Axel confronts the manager of the facility, he cites his own presence as proof of Swiss Cheese Security and thus grounds to have the entire place scrutinized.
  • Talk to the Fist: Taggart gut-punches Axel after the latter drops an f-bomb during an interview; this showcases just how different they are that Axel can provoke a By-the-Book Cop to violence.
    Taggart: Who are we going to believe, a respected local businessman, or a foul-mouthed jerk from out of town?
    Axel: Foul-mouthed? Fuck you, man.
    Taggart: [punches him]
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Axel and Bogomil empty their weapons into Maitland, shooting him at least twenty times when just one or two shots would have probably been sufficient enough to take him down.
    • Truth In Telivision: Law enforcement officials are trained to continue firing upon an armed assailant until the subject is no longer standing or their weapons run dry. That, and adrenaline.
  • Tap on the Head: One of Maitland's mooks knocks Axel out before Mikey is killed. He later taunts Axel about it while beating him up.
    Casey: "How's that little bump on the head I gave you in Detroit? Healed up nice, I hope."
  • Unexplained Accent: Serge's bizarre accent is unremarked upon by everyone except Axel.
  • Villain Ball: Much of the plot depends on Victor Maitland being a moron. See the Headscratchers page for more detail.
  • Wait Here: Axel tells Billy to wait outside the bonded warehouse, as he doesn't have probable cause to enter. When it becomes obvious that Axel and Jeannette are in trouble, Billy is forced to decide whether he's willing to go outside the book in order to save them, setting up his moment of Character Development.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Axel's friend Mikey gets offed in the opening act to set up the plot.

Alternative Title(s):

Beverly Hills Cop 1990, Beverly Hills Cop 2006