You should not be surprised if you run into the soundtrack album for "Beverly Hills Cop" before you walk into a theater to see the cops- and-robbers comedy whence it came. This is because the film, featuring Eddie Murphy's third starring role in as many years, was produced by two packaging-conscious guys named Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer.

Whose first collaboration was a little thing called "Flashdance."

"We have very strong musical inclinations," says Simpson. "We do think it should be a big part of a film -- if it's appropriate." Apparently, "Beverly Hills Cop" -- wherein Murphy is a sharp-witted, sharp-tongued Detroit detective who takes on Lala Land to solve the murder of a friend -- is appropriate: The soundtrack album is already out. And three singles ("Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters, Glen Frye's "The Heat Is On" and "Stirred Up" by Patti La Belle) have either been released already or will be, any minute.

Not that music makes the movie -- it just softens the blow if the movie itself doesn't make it. Simpson/Bruckheimer didn't need to worry about that with "Flashdance" -- and after sitting in on four sneaks of "Beverly Hills Cop," Simpson is hopeful. Murphy, he says, has matured into less of a wise guy and more of a comic actor: "He has heart," Simpson says. "Nobility, warmth, ethics . . ."

Though Murphy wasn't the first choice for the lead -- both Mickey Rourke and Sylvester Stallone were at various times committed to it -- some early reaction has it that Murphy, clashing colorfully with as many Beverly Hills cops as robbers, is the movie.

"Beverly Hills Cop" was directed by Martin Brest, whose last film was "Going in Style." (Simpson says Brest was the first choice for director -- but took two years to say yes.) If you liked Brest's meticulous warmth in "Going in Style," Simpson says, you will like "Beverly Hills Cop."

"It has similar heart," Simpson says. He likes that word.