When Beverly Hills Cop made its big screen debut in 1984 it became the highest-grossing film in the U.S. that year. A large part of the appeal of the film was the wise-cracking, street-smart character of Detective Axel Foley, played by Eddie Murphy, the big Hollywood star at the time.
The Foley character helped popularize an iconic Detroit jacket that still remains a top seller today, more than three decades after the action/comedy film hit screens.
Foley was a Detroit detective in Beverly Hills to investigate the murder of his friend, and through most of the film he wore a Detroit Lions varsity jacket. It was as much a part of Murphy’s performance as his famous ad libs and outrageous behavior. Also appearing in the film are Judge Reinhold, and veteran character actors John Ashton, Ronny Cox, and Gil Hill. There’s even an appearance by Jonathan Banks, the grizzled, rough-voiced tough guy who current fans may recognize as “Mike” in Breaking Bad and the spinoff Better Call Saul.
It’s important to remember just how popular Murphy was in 1984, a time when he was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live. Murphy was a young (very young) standup comic when he was cast on SNL in 1980, on the first cast after the “Original Not Ready For Prime Time Players” that included legends like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Akroyd, Jane Curtain, and others. Bill Murray, who had come along in the second season, had also just departed the late night show, which pioneered satirical and sketch comedy on that era. But from 1980 to 1985, SNL was without their creator and master helmsman Lorne Michaels, who had abandoned the show. Murphy was the lone bright light on the cast in those years, and Rolling Stone even stated that “It is customary (and accurate) to say that Eddie Murphy is the only reason SNL survived the five-year wilderness without Lorne Michaels.”
Murphy was only 19 when he first appeared on stage on Saturday Night Live. But a few years later he was such a star that he became the first (and still the only) cast member to host the show. When he did, he replaced the traditional opening with “Live from New York it’s the Eddie Murphy Show!”
His first film success came in 48 Hours with screen veteran Nick Nolte, and he followed with a hit called Trading Places which included SNL alum Akroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis. In 1983 his star shot even higher after the release of his standup comedy film, Delirious. While Murphy wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea (his standup routines were riddled with profanity and sexual references and gestures, which famously earned him a rebuke from Bill Cosby), no one could deny his success.
Axel Foley became Murphy’s signature role and was ranked No. 78 on Empire magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. Whether he was getting himself thrown out of windows, shooting it out with bad guys, pretending to be a customs inspector, or stuffing bananas in tail pipes to thwart his Beverly Hills police force pals, Murphy’s Foley commanded attention while he was on the screen. His signature laugh was also legendary.
While no mention of the Lions or football was made in the film (or its two sequels), you get the idea that Foley is a true-blue Lions’ fan who probably loved watching running back Billy Sims and the Detroit defense of that era. In spite of the rule-bending Foley does in the films, he represents Detroit well, showing off a toughness, fairness, and hard-working mentality.
None of the three Beverly Hills Cop movies take place in Detroit, but in 2014 it was announced that Beverly Hills Cop IV would not only take place in Detroit, but that it would be filmed and produced there. According to early reports, the State of Michigan had agreed to allow tax considerations for the production of the film in Detroit and the film company estimated as many as 365 jobs would be created in the area.
Murphy had long wanted to do a fourth installment of the franchise, but hadn’t found the time or wasn’t happy with the scripts. Pre-production began in 2015 and it was in development most of that year but reportedly did not start filming because of concerns with the script. Paramount still has Beverly Hills Cop IV listed in “pre-production” and no filming or release date has been set.
The Detroit Lions Beverly Hills Cop jacket features the Lions name and helmet on the breast and is banded with baby blue stripes on the wrists, collar, and waistband. The year “67” is stitched on both upper sleeves of this varsity-style jacket. The full name “Detroit Lions” and the Lions’ helmet are sewn on the back. It’s a full-zip jacket with an overlay of black buttons.