Doctor Detroit is a 1983 American comedy film directed by Michael Pressman with writing by Bruce Jay Friedman, Carl Gottlieb, and Robert Boris. The film stars Dan Aykroyd, Howard Hesseman, Lynn Whitfield, Fran Drescher, and Donna Dixon, with a special appearance by James Brown.
James Brown performed the theme song "Get Up Offa That Thing/Dr. Detroit." Devo performed "Theme from Doctor Detroit" and "Luv-Luv" and released an EP, including "Theme from Doctor Detroit," "Luv-Luv," and a remix of the theme song. Devo also produced a music video from the theme song incorporating footage from the film.
An introverted geek, Clifford Skridlow (Dan Aykroyd), is a professor of comparative literature at the financially strapped (fictional) Monroe College in Chicago. Smooth Walker (Howard Hesseman), a pimp, owes $80,000 to "Mom" (Kate Murtagh), a gruff Chicago mob boss. Attempting to weasel out of his debt, Smooth invents a fictitious mobster, the flamboyant "Doctor Detroit," a ruthless chiropractor who allegedly is overrunning Smooth's turf. Aykroyd meets Smooth and his girls (Donna Dixon, Lydia Lei, Fran Drescher, and Lynn Whitfield) and has the best night of his life partying with them. The next morning, during a faculty meeting Dr. Skridlow learns about their troubles with Mom and that Walker has skipped town, and that according to Smooth, they are now his girls. Skridlow agrees to assume the persona of Doctor Detroit in an effort to help them out of the jam they are in.
Meanwhile, destitute Monroe College awaits an anticipated corporate endowment from Rousehorn Consolidated Industries, a check to endow the Harold Robbins Chair of Literature that will be presented by its CEO, Harmon Rousehorn (Andrew Duggan) that will allow the college to remain open. The film alternates between Clifford's straight life as an Assistant Professor of Romantic Literature and his life as the Doctor.
At the same time the Professor is teaching classes, grading papers, catering a faculty party and assisting in hosting the visiting CEO, Doctor Detroit has to find a way to get Thelma, one of his girls, off on a solicitation charge; hold Mom at bay; and appear at the Players Ball to be proclaimed the new King of the Pimps while simultaneously appearing at Monroe College's annual Alumni Dinner. The climax comes when Mom appears at the Players Ball, figures out that Doctor Detroit and Professor Skridlow are one and the same, and duels him with sword-length kebab skewers in front of the assembled academics. Following the defeat of Mom, the two functions combine into one joyous, spectacular party, and the viewers learn the fates of Harmon Rousehorn (Andrew Duggan), Monica (Donna Dixon), Thelma (Lynn Whitfield), Diavolo (T.K. Walker), Jasmine (Lydia Lei), Smooth, Karen (Fran Drescher), and Clifford.
The film was shot on location in Chicago during the summer of 1982.
- Dan Aykroyd as Clifford Skridlow/Doctor Detroit
- Howard Hesseman as Smooth Walker
- Fran Drescher as Karen Blittstein
- Donna Dixon as Monica McNeil
- Lydia Lei as Jasmine Wu
- T. K. Carter as Diavolo Washington
- Lynn Whitfield as Thelma Cleland
- Kate Murtagh as Mom
- George Furth as Arthur Skridlow
- Nan Martin as Margaret Skridlow
- Peter Aykroyd as Mr. Frankman
- Glenne Headly as Miss Debbylike
- Robert Cornthwaite as Professor Blount
- Parley Baer as Judge Robert E. Lee Davis-Jackson
- John Kapelos as Rush Street Dude
- James Brown as Bandleader (himself)
- Steven Williams as Junior Sweet
- Andrew Duggan as Harmon Rausehorn
- Blackie Dammett as Eddie Four Eyes
- Cacey Kustosz as The Streaker