Top Secret!

1984

Top Secret!

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

77%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 35

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 41,568
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Movie Info

The second of Zucker-Abraham-Zucker's theatrical-feature spoofs (Airplane was the first, discounting the patchwork Kentucky Fried Movie), Top Secret! lampoons practically every film genre. Specifically, however, this is a hybrid of an "Elvis" movie and a World War II "underground resistance" thriller. In his film debut, Val Kilmer plays Nick Rivers, a Presley-like American rock idol sent behind the Iron Curtain on a goodwill tour. Before long, he is involved in a complex espionage scheme thanks to beautiful Lucy Gutteridge, the daughter of a scientist (Michael Gough) held captive by the Communists. Also essential to the action is flamboyant resistance leader Christopher Villiers, who behaves like Victor Mature in Betrayed (1954) and talks like James Mason. Adhering to Z-A-Z's cheerful disregard for people, places and events, the East Germans are depicted as Nazis, while the Underground is comprised of Frenchmen. The plot is mainly an excuse for the Z-A-Z team's fondness for joke-a-minute lampoonery, skewering cinematic targets ranging from The Blue Lagoon (1980) to The Wizard of Oz (1939). As in Z-A-Z's other efforts, Top Secret! scores its biggest yocks when invoking cliches that we never realized were cliches-and falls on its face whenever attempting a too-obvious gag (the biggest clinker: that pigeon statue in the park). Everyone has his or her favorite bits in this film: our faves include the resistance fighter named Deja Vu ("Haven't we met somewhere before?"), Kilmer's horrible nightmare while being tortured (he arrives too late to take final exams), the army-booted cow, the sensitive Pinto, and the East German National Anthem, sung to the tune of the Shorewood (Wisconsin) High School marching song. But let's say no more: comedy of this nature is designed to be seen, not written or read about.

Cast

Peter Cushing
as Bookstore Owner
Warren Clarke
as Col. Von Horst
Tristram Jellinek
as Maj. Crumpler
Richard Mayes
as Biletnikov
Vyvyan Lorrayne
as Mme. Bergerone
Ian McNeice
as Blindman
John Sharp
as Maitre D'
Marcus Powell
as Little German
Louise Yaffe
as Cafe Diner
Nancy Abrahams
as Pregnant Woman
Charlotte Zucker
as Cafe Diner
Susan Breslau
as Cafe Diner
O.T.
as Bruno
Michael Gough
as Dr. Flammond
Sara Montague
as Crying Girl
Mandy Nunn
as Young Hillary
Lee Sheward
as Young Nigel
Janos Kurucz
as Wagon Driver
Sydney Arnold
as Albert Potato
Harry Ditson
as Du Quois
Jim Carter
as Deja Vu
Eddie Tagoe
as Chocolate Mousse
Michelle Martin
as Pizzahaus Girl
Nicola Wright
as Pizzahaus Girl
Lisa Gruenberg
as Pizzahaus Girl
Gerry Paris
as Back-Up Singer
David Adams
as Back-Up Singer
Geoff Wayne
as Back-Up Singer
Steve Ubels
as German Soldier
Chas Bryer
as German Soldier
Mac MacDonald
as German Soldier
View All

News & Interviews for Top Secret!

Critic Reviews for Top Secret!

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (8)

  • The trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker approach movie comedy as a systematic exaggeration of genre cliche's designed to sustain 90 minutes of infectiously silly non sequiturs and sight gags.

    Apr 23, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The plot combines the rock musical with the spy thriller (not to mention assorted other genres), and the comic invention is fairly constant.

    Oct 18, 2011 | Full Review…
  • This time, though, the creative group has neglected to build to the kind of giddy, everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink climax that made Airplane! such a memorable exercise in anarchy.

    Oct 18, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Secret! shares the same wonderful wacky attitude that allows just about any kind of gag to come flowing in and out of the picture at the strangest times.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Signs of desperation have begun to creep in some time before the end.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • This movie will cheerfully go for a laugh wherever one is even remotely likely to be found.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Top Secret!

  • Mar 12, 2019
    In 1958 breakout rock and roll star Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army, frustrating his fans while delighting his numerous detractors, fearful of a sexual revolution - which kinda happened anyway come to think of it. But what if that real event had been more like one of his goofy movies, or say more inventively, a WW2 or Cold War movie? And so Top Secret takes it's inspiration, and it's many liberties, with Val Kilmer (in his first role and doing all the singing too) as a traveling American music idol caught up behind the Iron Curtain in espionage intrigues. There's plenty of laughs interspered with plenty of Back To The Future-style (which this preceded by one year) musical numbers. Some fun.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2018
    With less jokes per second than Airplane! (which was the kind of comedy that shot in every direction to see what could hit), this decent spoof of spy movies is more Mel Brooks than the Marx brothers and less irregular than that movie, even though not nearly as memorable.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2015
    I'm sure you know what to expect from the creators of the amazing Airplane and Naked Gun. This film is, honestly, no different from those two films, at all. That's why this review probably won't be very long, but I did have an absolute blast watching this. And, for a movie that's 31 years old, it actually holds up really fucking well. Outside of some jokes, that are obviously relevant to the time and era the film was released in, that someone born post-1984 won't understand, like the Mel Torme jokes, which was one of the few segments of the film that fell flat, to me, mostly because I had no idea what they were talking about. So, in a way, through no fault of my own, that's on me, since I simply didn't understand the context of what was going on, other than suggesting that perhaps Mel Torme wasn't particularly talented or good-looking. If that wasn't it, then I simply did not understand it. But, other than that, and maybe other part of the film where the jokes didn't really hit, the film threw so much shit out there that it was actually quite impressive when a good percentage of the jokes actually hit. With films like these, where you throw everything but the kitchen sink out there, it shouldn't be a surprise when there are as many misses as there are hits. That's just the lay of the land. High risk means high rewards, but it also means you could also fall flat on your face. But, thankfully, this film is really funny for the most part. This is a movie that actually gets funnier as it goes along. It doesn't peak early and then falls off a cliff. So that's also something to commend, because there are so many comedies I've seen that taper off after their peak. Even films that I would consider better than this. I'm not even gonna go through all the jokes in the film, because then I would be here forever. But you know what to expect from these guys. Lots of silly lines, goofy sight gags, like a character looking like he has his feet on his desk, but it turns out that it's just his boots positioned to look that way. Stupid shit like that, honestly. It's stupid, but it's really funny and cleverly done. There's some moments of self-awareness, but it leads to one of the funnier moments in the entire film. I had so much fun watching this and I simply can't recommend it enough. It might not be as good as Airplane or the first Naked Gun, but it's a consistently really funny film from top to bottom. It's just that good. It's severely underrated as well. I think being stuck between Airplane, Police Squad and Naked Gun didn't do it any favors, but it's only really a step below those films (and series) that I mentioned. I'd definitely recommend it, it's an absolute blast to watch.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jul 25, 2014
    It's a wonderfully absurd barrage of nonsensical gags. Considering how popular all the other Zucker, Zucker, and Abrahams comedies are, you'd think "Top Secret" would better remembered (or just remembered at all) but it may just be because the film has barely any plot . . . but really, who cares?
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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