Director: Martin Brest
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton
Plot: A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.
Eddie Murphy improvised much of his comic lines, as did John Ashton and Judge Reinhold. Literally hundreds of takes were ruined by cast members or actors or the director himself, who were unable to stop laughing during shooting because of this. During the "super-cops" monologue, Ashton is pinching his face hard and looking down in apparent frustration. If you look closely, you can see that he is actually laughing. Reinhold put his hand in his pocket and pinched his thigh really hard to prevent himself from laughing.
In the process of casting the characters of Rosewood and Taggart, the director paired up various finalists and asked them to do some improvisation to get a feel for the chemistry between the actors. He paired up Judge Reinhold and John Ashton and gave them the following direction: "You are a middle aged couple, married for years. You are having a conversation on an average evening." Judge Reinhold immediately picked up a nearby magazine and the two improvised the "5 pounds of red meat in his bowels" bit almost verbatim as it eventually appeared in the movie. This got them the parts.
During his tirade at the Beverly Palms Hotel, Axel pretends to be writing an article called "Michael Jackson: Sitting on Top of the World" for Rolling Stone magazine. In real life, Playboy ran an article called "Eddie Murphy: Sitting on Top of the World."
The T-shirt that Axel Foley wears in the film is from Mumford, an actual Detroit-area school attended by one of the filmmakers. When the film came out, the school received orders for the shirts from customers all over the world.
The movie was written for Sylvester Stallone, with the character of Michael Tandino being his brother, and Jenny Summers being his love interest. Two weeks before filming was to start, Stallone was suddenly out and Eddie Murphy was in, prompting massive rewrites. Stallone used some of his script ideas to make Cobra.
When filming the scenes in the police station sequences, Eddie Murphy became very tired. The crew offered him coffee but he refused to drink any because he refuses to take drugs of any kind. Eventually, Murphy relented and took small sips of coffee to stay awake. As a result of his first caffeine intake, Murphy became very energized and ad-libbed the "super-cops" monologue.
The shooting script was literally pasted together from the half dozen or so scripts written for this project over the years. When they were stuck, Eddie Murphy would improvise dialog or create a scene.
Martin Brest was fired from his second directing job, WarGames (1983), 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 the film. 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.
When trying to find Foley and Rosewood, the LAPD use a "satellite tracking system" (the ancestor of the modern-day Global Positioning System or GPS). Such a system did not exist at the time and was made up to advance the plot, but later did come into existence in real life.
According to Steven Berkoff (Maitland) in a UK newspaper interview, Sylvester Stallone quit the film because of disagreements about which kind of orange juice was to be put in his trailer.
Damon Wayans' film debut as The Banana Man at the Beverly Palms Hotel.
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 from a buffet in the lobby.
As can be seen when Axel Foley shooting his gun, he is left handed.
Director Martin Brest appears at the end of the movie as the clerk who checks Axel out of the hotel.
In one of the previous drafts written for Sylvester Stallone, Billy Rosewood was called "Siddons" and was killed off half-way through the script during one of the action scenes deemed "too expensive" for Paramount to produce. Only after Martin Brest cast Judge Reinhold and John Ashton was the decision made to keep Rosewood alive due to his chemistry with Taggart.