Best Defense

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This article is about the film. For the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode, see Best Defense (Law & Order: Criminal Intent).
Best Defense
Theatrical release poster by Steven Chorney
Directed by Willard Huyck
Produced by Gloria Katz
Written by Robert Grossbach (novel Easy and Hard Ways Out)
Willard Huyck
Gloria Katz (screenplay)
Music by Patrick Williams
Cinematography Donald Peterman
Edited by Sidney Wolinsky
Cinema Group Ventures
Eddie Murphy Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
July 20, 1984 (USA)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$18,000,000 (est)
Box office $19,265,302 (domestic) [1]

Best Defense is a comedy film starring Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy.[2] The original music score was composed by Patrick Williams.[2] It was released in 1984 by Paramount Pictures.[2]


The movie takes place as two parallel plots separated by several years: In 1982, Moore is an engineer developing a targeting system on a tank for the United States Army and in 1984, Murphy is an American tank commander who finds himself forced to use the vehicle when Iraq invades Kuwait (an unintentional foreshadowing of the Gulf War that occurred six years after the release of the film).

The protagonists never interact in any way throughout the film. However, a cut scene showed both Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy together, but was edited out from the final film.

The film progresses as the indifferent and incompetent Moore slowly becomes more and more conscientious as he sees his corrupt employer falsifying test results on the notoriously unreliable system. This is interwoven with clips of the reluctant Murphy being forced into combat with a pair of ill trained Kuwaiti crewmen and the lemon of a tank (the machine gun falls apart in Murphy's hands, etc.).

The film reaches its climax when Murphy attempts to fire the main gun, which jams due to an overheated component ("The WAM's overheating! The WAM's overheating! What the hell is a WAM!?!"). Flashbacks then show the reformed Moore ignoring his bosses' orders to cut costs and making a sound engineering change to fix an anticipated overheating problem in the component ("Damn it, something on this tank is going to work!"). The camera cuts away to the tank's innards, showing Moore's fan turning on and cooling the component, and the AA rockets getting launched to save Murphy from an Iraqi anti-tank helicopter. The film ends with Moore and Murphy as heroes in their respective jobs.


As originally filmed, the film did not feature Eddie Murphy's character, and was solely a Dudley Moore film.[3] The film's preview screenings were received poorly, and the studio suggested filming a role for Eddie Murphy, who was at the peak of his popularity. Murphy's part was almost unconnected with the rest of the film and his character never even came into contact with the main cast.[3][4] There had been a scene filmed during the reshoots which featured Moore and Murphy's characters meeting, but it was cut from the film.


The movie was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for Worst Picture.[5]


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