36 user 20 critic

Doctor Detroit (1983)

R | | Comedy | 6 May 1983 (USA)
A timid college professor, conned into posing as a flamboyant pimp, finds himself enjoying his new occupation on the streets.


Michael Pressman

On Disc

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dan Aykroyd ... Clifford Skridlow / Doctor Detroit
Howard Hesseman ... Smooth Walker
Donna Dixon ... Monica McNeil
Lydia Lei ... Jasmine Wu
T.K. Carter ... Diavolo Washington
Lynn Whitfield ... Thelma Cleland
Fran Drescher ... Karen Blittstein
John A. Maloney John A. Maloney ... Commodore
Pershing P. Anderson Pershing P. Anderson ... Stretch
William Munchow William Munchow ... Professor Artel
Ed Meekin Ed Meekin ... Professor Durant (as Edward Meekin)
Hank Salas ... Johnny
Rudolph Kovar Rudolph Kovar ... Carson (as Rudolf Kovar)
Kate Murtagh ... Mom
Peter Elbling ... Guptor


Clifford Skridlow teaches at a small Chicago college run by his father. Conned into managing four prostitutes by their pimp, who skips town to escape the mob boss known as Mom, Clifford draws on his course in medieval literature in his quest to save the women from Mom. Written by <rth@ece.arizona.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He's making the world safe for insanity.




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

6 May 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dr. Detroit See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Things that Doctor Detroit was an expert in included systems analysis, comparative literature, chivalry and honor, rock climbing, power walking and Indian cuisine. See more »


Handle on the passenger-side roof of the tow truck, not duplicated on the drivers-side of the roof (obvious prop). A low camera angle used to conceal the prop. See more »


Clifford Skridlow: [posing in court as Thelma's brother, upon hearing the bailiff read from the docket] I can't believe my ears! This is an outrage! Let me see that thing. I mean this is outrageous, ridiculous! Let me see that. Why, I demand satisfaction! Get the arrestin' officer in here! I will tar and feather the scalawag!
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Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits, we see "Coming soon: Doctor Detroit II, the Wrath of Mom." See more »


Referenced in Get a Life: Chris Gets His Tonsils Out (1991) See more »


Theme From Doctor Detroit
Written by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald V. Casale (as G. V. Casale)
Performed by Devo
Devo produced by Devo
Devo appears courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
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User Reviews

An in depth look at the human psyche
17 April 2000 | by debtmanSee all my reviews

In this move, Aykroyd presents a fresh look at what makes a man tick, his desires, feeling, emotions and passions. Aykroyd plays Clifford Skridlow, a somewhat nerdish college professor who is timid and mildly neruotic. This character speaks to a lot of us as we walk our way through life, often unnoticed and unsatisfied with our interactions with others. Longing for nothing but happiness, we weave our way through the obstacles of life much as Clifford rushes through the quad on the way to class, taunted and laughed at by the students surrounding him. But this isn't just another movie designed to identify with unsatisfied loners.

While enjoying dinner at an Indian Restauraunt (symbolizing the social and cultural diversity of humanity), Clifford is picked out by a local pimp to act as a scapegoat to avoid debt to Mom, of the infamous Mom's Limo Company. How many times have you been picked by those more successful than you to take the blame? It's getting a little to real at this point, as the action picks up it's pace. Clifford must invent an inner personality to cope with the feelings of rejection and hatred, and the character Doctor Detroit is born. He embodies all that Clifford wishes he could be, suave, feared, respected, wealthy, and adored by women. The metal hand on his left arm is a not so subtle attempt to portray the desire of the weak to be strong.

The strong reference to Nietzsche's idea of men rising up from the ashes and becoming a strong race of supermen cannot be ignored at this point, and it's clear that this is more than just a silly comedy. With his newfound alter-ego and inner strength, the doctor conquers evil and saves the day. In a triumphant final speed, the Doctor retires his inner personality encouraging the gathered crowd to be strong and find their own inner selves, while returning to a life of a normal, unknown man.

But what will happen to him? Why did he choose to let his inner self die? Was this a sacrifice, or a lack of courage? What would Nietzsche think about this complex analysis? This movie will leave you asking these any many questions. Highly recommended, especially as an introduction to other great works such as Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.

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