84 From ’84: Best Defense

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Best Defense

Best Defense Poster

A military weapons engineer struggles to do his job responsibly, while a hapless tank commander has to live with the consequences in combat years later.


  • Dudley Moore as Wylie Cooper
  • Eddie Murphy as Lieutenant T.M. Landry
  • Kate Capshaw as Laura Cooper
  • George Dzundza as Steve Loparino
  • Helen Shaver as Clair Lewis
  • Mark Arnott as Harvey Brank

1984 viewing

I didn’t see this movie in 1984. I remember the trailers but with Dudley Moore as the star I had no interest. Not even with Eddie Murphy in it.

I’m not a fan of Dudley Moore, he’s style of comedy didn’t appeal to me. I’ve seen a few of his movies and didn’t like them.

Eddie Murphy was a big star, well he was an up-and-coming big star in 1984. Known mainly for Saturday Night Live, he gained movie notoriety in 48 Hrs and Trading Places.

Let’s watch Best Defense and see if it’s worthy of a place on the 40th Anniversary play list.

40th Anniversary Re-watch

Oh my…

This movie is not good. The trailer and TV spots are misleading as hell too, I’d guess that was intentional. Let’s get it out right away, Eddie Murphy’s role is more of a bit part than anything. This movie is about Moore’s character Wylie Cooper. Murphy and Moore don’t even appear on screen together!

Moore plays an inept engineer, Wylie Cooper, building a new targeting system for Army tanks. It interweaves Murphy’s role as a tank commander who is using the new targeting system. Moore’s story arc takes place in 1982, Murphy’s takes place in 1984. Everything we see from Murphy is a result of Moore’s decisions two years earlier.

While the storytelling structure is interesting it isn’t carried out very well. There’s some KGB spy espionage stuff going on too. None of it really hits.

Best Defense Tank

This is a Dudley Moore movie, no doubt about it. They put Eddie Murphy in it to help carry the movie but it’s not enough.

Reading about the history of Best Defense, Eddie Murphy was brought in because test audiences hated the Dudley Moore part of the movie. Moore can’t carry this movie, he’s not funny and the movie suffers for it. Unfortunately the scenes Murphy appear in aren’t good either.

Best Defense suffers from bad writing. Instead of writing a part for Eddie Murphy to cash in on his fame, they should have scrapped the entire movie. What I find hard to believe is the writers for Best Defense, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, also wrote American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

Favorite Line:

Who’s the c**ksucker who built this thing?

In an interview on David Letterman, Eddie Murphy said he hated the script for Best Defense, but they offered him more money than his previous two films, 48 Hrs and Trading Places, combined so he took it.

Kate Capshaw is also in Best Defense as Moore’s wife. This is the second movie covered starring Capshaw, she was in Dreamscape as well. She’ll appear in one more movie on our list and it’s a powerhouse.

I don’t recommend watching Best Defense, not even for Eddie Murphy. You could watch the trailer and see the majority of Murphy’s scenes anyhow.

Best Defense was released on 20 July 1984.

Did you watch Best Defense? If so let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on X(Twitter). The main Geekster channel is @TRNSocial and I’m @MileHighSamurai You can also find me on Bluesky @MileHighSamurai

3/10 stars

3 Stars

Check out the entire 84 From ’84 movie series

About Pitfall Gary 147 Articles
Just your average Gen X'er. Born in the 70s and raised in the Decade of Decadence! I rode my bike without a helmet and was home when the street lights came on. I love to reminisce about the good ol' days; Movies, TV, music, if it happened in my childhood I'll share it with you.

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