Though Nielsen is gone, his presence hangs heavy over the heads of cinema enthusiasts everywhere, thanks to his numerous roles in films like “Forbidden Planet” and “The Naked Gun.” It’s hard to narrow down Nielsen’s almost 60 years in show business to five projects we love above all others, but we’re certainly going to give it our best shot.
After the jump, check out our five favorite films from the late, great Leslie Nielsen.
Many wouldn’t know it based on his later works, but Nielsen actually started his career as a dramatic leading man, not a comedian. First and foremost am his earlier works is “Forbidden Planet,” the epic 1956 science fiction film featuring Robbie the Robot and monsters from the Id. “Forbidden Planet” provided Nielsen with his second film role and one of the most memorable performances of his career, not to mention its own status as one of the most iconic sci-fi flicks of all time.
“Prom Night” & “Creepshow”
Some unintentional laughs abound in both “Prom Night” and “Creepshow,” two of Nielsen’s greatest works in the horror genre. Nielsen starred in “Prom Night” as a high school principal and “Halloween” queen Jamie Lee Curtis’ father, while he played a wealthy murderer who buries Ted Danson out in the ocean in “Creepshow.” Both very different performances, both required viewing.
Of course, the version of Nielsen we remember most fondly is the one who made us cry not out of fear, but out of endless hours of laughter. His first, and some would say his best, comedic role came in the form of “Airplane!” as Doctor Alan Rumack, a man who surely won’t be called Shirley. His deadpan delivery in the 1980 classic solidified his future career as a comedian in the years to come.
“Police Squad!” & “The Naked Gun”
Few can argue that the most memorable role of Nielsen’s entire career is as Lieutenant Frank Drebin in the “Police Squad!” television series and the subsequent “Naked Gun” movie trilogy. As the silver-haired Frank, Nielsen proved himself a master of slapstick and parody. Among the many reasons we’ll miss Nielsen is the fact that we’ll never see him play Frank Drebin again.
Tell us your favorite Leslie Nielsen movies in the comments section and on Twitter!