The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is a 1988 comedy film, the first in a series of films starring Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy, and O. J. Simpson. The three films (the other two being The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, and Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult) chronicle the adventures of Nielsen's character, the bumbling police Lieutenant Frank Drebin.
The film's title parodies The Nude Bomb, another film spun-off from a satirical TV series (Get Smart), but could also be interpreted as a general "sex and violence" cliché that is usually expected from a Hollywood film of the era. The film was marketed with the tagline, "You've read the ad, now see the movie!"
The film series is based on the character created by Nielsen in the television series Police Squad!. The core creative team behind Police Squad! and the movie series includes the team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker as well as Pat Proft in varying combinations.
The movie starts in a meeting in Beirut with a collection of anti-American leaders: Ayatollah Khomeini, Mikhail Gorbachev (who claims he has the Americans believing he is "a nice guy"), Yasser Arafat, Muammar al-Gaddafi and Idi Amin, who are planning a terrorist act against the US. The man who is later shown to be Pahpshmir is also seen at this meeting. It turns out that Frank Drebin has been posing undercover as a waiter; he beats up all the attendees, wipes off Gorbachev's forehead birthmark ("I knew it!!!"), then knocks the turban off the Ayatollah, to which a mortified Khomeini is shown to have an orange mohawk underneath. Drebin then defiantly tells them all that they will never attack America as long as he is on the job, to which he then is bonked in the face as he escapes/falls out the window.
Back in Los Angeles, Officer Nordberg unsuccessfully attempts to bust a heroin drug operation at the docks organized by Vincent Ludwig, and is shot numerous times by Ludwig's goons, then accidentally runs into a hot stove, a wedding cake, and then a bear trap, before falling into the harbor. (It is a running gag that Nordberg keeps getting badly injured, but somehow manages to survive). After being briefed on the case by his colleague Ed, Frank visits Nordberg in hospital, but the near-comatose Nordberg can provide only a few cryptic clues, including a picture of the ship on which the deal had been organized - and the ship belongs to Vincent Ludwig. In another humorous scene, Frank attempts to bribe a harbor master into giving him information on Ludwig's boat, to which the harbor master ends up giving him the money back along with some of his own.
Frank then meets with wacky police scientist Ted, who is largely considered to be a parody of James Bond's Q. Ted invents things such as a wall that is able to defend itself from tagging, to which a street gang is then shown attempting to spray paint the wall, only to have cannons of spray paint activate towards them, sending them running off screaming. Ted has also invented a cufflink that shoots out a tiny dart which renders the victim into a temporary sleep.
Pahpshmir is seen meeting with Vincent Ludwig, a businessman who has terrorist connections, where Ludwig says that he will assassinate Queen Elizabeth II (who is on a state visit to the USA) for $20 million. Ludwig demonstrates that he has a way of turning anyone into an unknowing assassin at the press of Ludwig's beeper; it appears that the victims are responding to a post-hypnotic suggestion, but the film makes no effort to clarify the point further.
Drebin visits Ludwig in his office (thereby causing some minor chaos) and inadvertently lets slip the information that Nordberg is still alive; later on another attempt is made on Nordberg's life. Frank chases the assassin (a hypnotized doctor) in a commandeered car operated by a panicked student driver and Houseman's unflappable instructor, until the luckless assassin crashes the car into a gasoline truck, and then crashes the car once again into a truck with a US Army missile, somehow surviving each until he finally crashes into a fireworks factory, which presumably eliminates the assassin. Over the ensuing carnage, Drebin proclaims "There's nothing to see here!" to the assembled onlookers, as the entire inventory of the fireworks factory is launched and creates a fireworks show.
As he works on the case, Drebin meets and falls in love with Ludwig's assistant Jane Spencer. It is eventually revealed that Jane knows nothing about Ludwig's plot, and after the pair spend the night together, she helps Frank with his investigation.
Following Drebin-inspired disasters at a reception for the Queen and Ludwig's penthouse, the climax of the film centers on the Queen's visit to a California Angels baseball game. Frank must find out how Ludwig plans to assassinate her, while also hiding from his fellow policemen, who are now under orders to arrest him. Frank knocks out "renowned opera singer" Enrico Pallazzo (obvious parody of Luciano Pavarotti), takes his clothes and proceeds to brutally mangle the national anthem, along with Pallazzo's reputation. Frank then pretends to be an umpire, while claiming to check their batting stances, he is actually frisking the players for the assassination device. He knows the assassination will take place during the seventh-inning stretch, and when he tries to delay the end of the top of the seventh inning by intentionally making bad calls, he inadvertently triggers an all-out brawl between the Angels and their opponent the Seattle Mariners. During breaks in the innings, Frank is telling the chief that although he searched just about every player, he cannot find the hypnotizing device. Jane yells to Frank that it is an outfielder (Reggie Jackson) for the Angels, prompting Ludwig to activate the device and abduct Jane. While Frank attempts to stop the hypnotized player with a sleep-inducing dart fired from Ted's cufflinks; he missed and hits a fat woman in the overhead bleachers. However bumbling, Frank still manages to save the Queen's life, because the dazed fat woman falls on top of the hypnotized assassin, who was about to shoot the Queen. The audience is amazed at Frank's heroism, although they do not know who he is. One thinks he must be an umpire, while another says it is Enrico Pallazzo. The mayor then admits that however goofy his methods may be, Frank is a dedicated police officer and lifts the arrest order on Frank. However, Ludwig is still at large. Holding Jane hostage at gun-point, Ludwig escapes to the top of the stadium, where Frank shoots him with his other cufflink dart. Ludwig falls several stories off the stadium balcony, smashing to earth in the parking lot and getting run over by both a bus and a steamroller. A marching band performing "Louie, Louie" then tromps over his flattened body, pressing the beeper, which makes Jane try to kill Frank with Ludwig's gun. Frank uses reverse psychology to try and break Jane's hypnotized state, by saying that if he cannot be with her he may as may be murdered, and gives her an engagement ring, to which Jane is freed from Ludwig's assassination hypnosis and then embraces him and accepts his marriage proposal. His speech is broadcast on the stadium screen, causing the teams to stop fighting and make up, as well as cause the entire audience such as quarrelling wives and husbands, Palestinians and Israelis, and a mailman and the dog to all hug each other. The mayor thanks Frank, saying the whole world owes him a debt of gratitude, and he is also congratulated by Nordberg. The latter, while still wheelchair-bound, seems much better until Frank pats him on the back, sending him zooming down the aisle and up over the edge of the stadium as the movie ends.
In addition to the aforementioned cast, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! co-stars Ricardo Montalbán, Jeannette Charles, Raye Birk, and Nancy Marchand. "Weird Al" Yankovic, Joe Grifasi, Lawrence Tierney, John Houseman (his last film), and Mark Holton have cameo roles.
Major League Baseball players Reggie Jackson and Jay Johnstone have cameo roles as themselves, as do umpires Joe West and Hank Robinson. Professional announcers Curt Gowdy, Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg and Dick Vitale appear as play-by-play commentators, as does Dr. Joyce Brothers.