Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, starring Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley, turns 30 this year.  While I was cleaning my closet, I discovered I had a copy of the second draft of the script dated February 12, 1993.  I thought we’d delve into this version written by Pat Proft and see what changed from this draft and the final film.

#1 – There’s a Reason Screenplays Have Multiple Drafts

Naked Gun III: “The Final Insult” definitely reads like an early draft of what would become Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. Given that this is the second draft, Proft may have been more concerned with the film’s story and plotting at this point than with its comedy elements.  While there are some familiar lines of dialogue, it’s clear that major rewrites were done by Proft, David Zucker, and Robert LoCash before production began.

The film’s basic story is on the page: Frank Drebin is pulled out of retirement to assist Police Squad in determining how a mad bomber plans to escape prison and blow up his next target.

With this being the third movie in the trilogy, I’m curious if Proft was asked to write a screenplay to give to Paramount to show they had something in the works for the final installment and keep the production schedule moving forward. While this draft was written in early 1993, it’s likely Proft was given a basic idea and some films to spoof to get the script into a workable and budgetable format.

#2 – What’s in A Name?

While the principal characters are all here, what’s noticeable in this draft is the villain isn’t Rocco Dillon; he’s Cody Jarette.  Tanya Peters, Rocco’s girlfriend, is Verna Peters in this draft. 

Along with these name changes, the script includes many more characters than the final film, including one of Cody’s henchmen, Big Earl. He makes it to the third act at the Academy Awards but ultimately serves no true purpose in the film. In the final film, Rocco, Ma, or Tanya take over most of his actions and dialogue.

#3 – Pacing, Pacing, Pacing

The final version and edit of The Final Insult keep the story humming along briskly.  Jokes and sight gags fly past as the plot evolves, while this draft hits several roadblocks that slow down the pacing. 

The film clocks in at a slim 83 minutes, while the second draft of the script is 124 pages. If the old adage holds true, with one page equaling one minute of screen time, the film had the potential to be over two hours long.  

This draft clearly shows that Proft was testing ideas and concepts that would remain in the final film but in altered or minimized form.  A primary example is the prison escape, which is more involved and complicated in this script draft and includes Frank directing a prison version of Fiddler on the Roof featuring Mike Tyson as a distraction as he, Cody, and other prisoners escape.

Another is at the Karlson Sperm Bank and Fertility Clinic, where Frank goes undercover to obtain potential details about Cody and his girlfriend, Verna. While the script does lay out the basic elements seen in the final film, an extended sequence involving cups of mayonnaise and sperm samples luckily didn’t make it to the final version.

Also, the Academy Awards sequence in the third act doesn’t work as well on the page as it does in the final film.  It’s clear that Proft was probably spitballing actors to include that would ultimately be recast as the film went into production.

#4 – Thelma & Louise

According to the audio commentary on the film, Jane’s storyline was supposed to parody Thelma & Louisemuch more than the final film. While it’s still baked into the story, the filmmakers decided to trim it significantly after Wayne’s World 2 spoofed Thelma & Louise’s ending in a way they felt was much funnier than they had planned. So, they scrapped it.

Remnants of that story arc remain in the final film but with significant cuts.  In the film, Jane and Louise go on their road trip after Jane’s fight with Frank, but in this draft of the script, they meet a hitchhiker named Eddy (a take on Brad Pitt’s character J.D.  in Thelma & Louise), and he comes along on their road trip.  

While I understand the intention of this storyline, it grinds things to a halt and detracts from the main story in its draft form in the script. The way it was ultimately edited and included in the film works much better, and Jane eventually comes across Rocco’s cabin, which also makes more sense.

#5 – The End

In the script, Frank and Cody have their final fight atop a giant blimp about the Academy Awards.  Cody pulls out the bomb inside the Best Picture envelope and kills himself as Frank dives off the blimp to avoid a giant fireball.

He reunites with Jane, and we’re taken to a park five years later, where Frank Drebin Jr. crashes his bike into a row of trash cans, as his father has done repeatedly in his car.

Compare that ending to the climax in the film, and I feel the ending chosen works better: 

I also think the final scene in the hospital ties up the subplot of Frank and Jane’s desire to have a child and leaves us with one more solid laugh as the credits roll.

Final Thoughts

Watching these films, you can tell that this type of comedy is a science in how it expertly weaves a wide range of comedic styles together while also delivering a compelling narrative with high stakes.  

Reading the script, it made me appreciate the time, effort, and creative energy that it takes to bring a film in this genre to life and keep it consistently funny for 90 minutes.  All three Naked Gun films have life-or-death plots that keep the audience in suspense while they’re also laughing and having a good time.  It’s a tricky balancing act that all three films succeed at, and what makes them enjoyable time and time again.

Give yourself a break from the madness of reality and watch the Naked Gun trilogy.  Laughs and good times await! 

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