Things You Never Knew From The Set Of Caddyshack

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Forcing Her Hand

Cindy Morgan had several issues with the script requirements for her character. While Harold Ramis was willing to allow Morgan to stay covered, Jon Peters told her she would never work in Hollywood again if she didn’t comply.

Keeping Separate

Both Bill Murray and Chevy Chase had been known for their work as comedic actors on Saturday Night Live throughout the 1970s. However, they hadn’t been on the sketch comedy show at the same time. Murray had been Chase’s replacement on the show after Chase’s resignation, but when Chase suddenly returned, it was not exactly a celebration. Producers decided it would be best to keep the two men away from each other, ensuring that they were rarely in the scenes together.

Down In Flames

Pilots passing over the set from the nearby airport were alarmed one day to see a huge fire raging in the midst of the golf field. Fans of the movie will remember the scene at the end of the movie where the 18th hole erupts in Carl Spackler’s final attempt to defeat the gopher. The production team accidentally built a much bigger explosion than planned, causing the passing pilots to alert air traffic control to what they thought was a plane crash.

Chasing A Laugh

When producers realized that Chevy Chase and Bill Murray had no scenes together, they asked the director, Harold Ramis to add one at the last minute in order to take advantage of their comedic genius. The three plotted an outline, devising a set up to get Chase’s character in Murray’s little shack of a house. Though the scene is only loosely connected to the plot, it ended up becoming what is considered the funniest scene in the entire film.

Ruth In The Pool

One of the funnier scenes in the movie depicts a Baby Ruth candy bar being dropped into a swimming pool, unwrapped. When it’s discovered by someone not in the know, they mistake it for human waste, to hilarious effect. As it turns out, the prank was pulled by Bill Murray and his brother, Brian Doyle-Murray in real life, when they dropped a candy bar in their high school swimming pool before sounding the alarm to school officials.

Sneaking Around

You remember that famous explosion that serves as the film’s climax? Well, the owners of the golf course had expressly forbidden the production team from filming the scene anywhere near any of the golf courses. Though the producers had built a fake hill to blow up, the owners were still upset about their plans. In order to complete the scene, a producer wined and dined them in thanks as the director hurriedly shot the explosion while they were off the golf course’s grounds.

Coming In Second

Bill Murray wasn’t even originally supposed to be in Caddyshack. He was chosen as a last minute replacement for the original, Carl Spackler, who was played by an actual veteran who had what was then referred to as shell shock. The amateur, however, couldn’t actually manage the demands of being on film, such as remembering his lines, nor could he act, but Murray honored him in his performance by basing many of Carl’s characteristics on the previous actors personal ticks.

Planning A Backup

There were many hurdles that the creators of Caddyshack had to overcome in order to get the movie produced. One of them, including the fact that Harold Ramis had never directed a film prior to signing on as the director of Caddyshack. Producers were had so little confidence in his ability to direct that the studio asked the rest of the team to have a back up director lined up just in case Ramis couldn’t uphold expectations.

A Painful Hit

The inspiration behind the scene where Judge Smails takes a painful below the belt hit from a golf ball was a real incident that happened to director Harold Ramis. Prior to the film, Ramis had only hit the green twice, and seemed a bit scared off by what happened. He was luckily the perpetrator of the hysterical mishap, not the receiver. It was too good of a moment to not include in their movie, and the joke certainly landed well.

Marxing It Up

After the production managed to sign on the three big name comedians, the roles of the characters they were set to play began to shift. Harold Ramis retooled the story to focus more on their characters, imagining the narrative as if it were a Marx Brothers script. In his mind, Rodney Dangerfield was Groucho Marx, Bill Murray was Harpo Marx, and Chevy Chase filled the role of Chico. The movie was thus redesigned to highlight their jokes, rather than focusing on the coming of age story.

Short On Murray

Caddyshack may be the film that made Bill Murray a star, but he was only supposed to be given a cameo performance. The production team found him so hilarious, however, that they quickly worked him into more of the movie. Originally, Carl Spackler wasn’t even supposed to speak, but once Murray signed on, Harold Ramis knew that would need to change. He wanted to take advantage of Murray’s impeccable comedic instincts. Murray’s characterization ended up being integral to the film’s success.

Channeling The Monks

Chevy Chase’s character takes a very “zen” approach to his golf playing, which was mostly characterized by Chase chanting before each of his character’s swings. The idea for that element of the character came from writer Douglas Kenney’s own interests in Buddhist meditation. Brian Doyle-Murray explained,”[Kenney] had an idea for a putter with electromagnetic sensors that would signal you to putt when you’d reach alpha state.” That led the director to ask Chase to make a “zen noise” before each putt.

A Rockin Romp

The movie’s opening credits are set to the song, “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins. However, this was not Harold Ramis’s first choice for the. He’d originally envisioned his comedy romp set to a soundtrack provided by the up and coming rock group, Pink Floyd. The group declined Ramis’s request, and he had to find another artist who would lend their voice to the film, which is how they eventually ended up with Kenny Loggins singing on the film.

Rodney Needs A Laugh

When Rodney Dangerfield was cast in the role of Al Czervik, he had been a well known comedian, but had never yet appeared on film. Dangerfield appeared quite unhappy at the beginning of the shoot, and when someone finally asked why, he said he felt like he was bombing all of his jokes. Dangerfield was used to performing for an audience, so he didn’t realize his costars couldn’t laugh at him. One of them kindly explained that if they laughed, it would ruin the take.

Giving Chase

When Caddyshack was first conceived, several studios passed it up before one agreed to take on the film. The executives had a few stipulations about the cast, however. Namely, the producers need to find a star to fill at least one of the roles. One by one, they cast first Dangerfield, and then Bill Murray, who was then starring on Saturday Night Live. It wasn’t until they managed to nab Chevy Chase for the film too that the studio agreed to make the movie.

Art Imitates Life

When Brian Doyle-Murray and Douglas Kenney sat down to write the script, they had plenty of inspiration to draw on. Most of what ended up on the page was taken straight from Doyle-Murray’s life. The elder of the Murray brothers had caddied himself as a kid in Illinois. He also made sure to depict the feeling of growing up cramped together with eight other siblings. The similarities don’t stop there though. Even the jobs given to characters were inspired by a family member’s real life.

Animal House, But Golf!

It’s pretty safe to say that Caddyshack never would have been made if it hadn’t been for Animal House, which was co-written by Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney. Despite Animal House‘s immense popularity–it grossed over $141 million at the box office–the two men still had to struggle to follow up their success. Luckily “Animal House–but on a golf course!” sounded like a real winner to producers, and the men were able to get their second film produced.

Topsy Turvey Directing

There are many tales about Ramis’s fitness as a first time director, though it’s not clear just how many are fact or fiction. In some reports, Ramis was so incompetent that he would look through the viewfinder of the camera, rather than looking at the screen when they first began filming. Others said that in the first few days of the shoot, Ramis would mistakenly yell, “Cut!” when he meant to shout out, “Action!” Luckily, the studios liked what they saw, and Ramis stayed.

Hightailing Out Of Hollywood

Ramis was intent on not filming the movie in Hollywood, fearing that the studio might have too control if they were close by. He managed to get permission to shoot elsewhere by saying they needed a location that looked more like the midwest. It was ironic, therefore, that a golf course in Florida was chosen to stand in as the set, which ended up causing a fair number of problems of unexpected problems for the embattled production.

A Dangerous Audition

According to producers, when Rodney Dangerfield showed up for his audition, he put on a bizarre display. For starters, he was driven to the office in a stretch limousine. His choice of wardrobe for the meeting also turned heads, as he was wearing a pastel suit that was covered with a trench suit. Witnesses recall Dangerfield striding into the room, ripping off his pants in front of Peters, before exclaiming, “Let’s eat!” Though producers were baffled, he won the role anyway.

Going Against Nature

Due to their tropical shooting location, the production had a number of weather phenomena to contend with. For starters, though not wholly weather related, the production had to keep cutting shots because passing airplanes were making too much noise. More disruptive, however, was Hurricane David’s arrival, which caused the production to shut down entirely as it passed over them. The cast and crew were more than happy to throw an Animal House style party while they waited out the storm.

Swimming Blind

In Cindy Morgan’s well known pool scene, she later shared that it was an extremely difficult scene for her to shoot, as she couldn’t see anything. Though they had a stunt double dive into the pool for her, she had to be lead to the ladder by production assistants since she was unable to wear contact lenses for the scene as they could be ruined by the water. Without anything aiding her vision, Cindy Morgan is considered to be legally blind.

Annoying Grandpa

Ted Knight was unimpressed with his wild costars’ composure after hours during the shoot. In general, he had been regarded as quite nice, and was a calming presence while he worked. Nevertheless, the cast and crew’s nearly incessant partying was too much for the older actor. He became quite annoyed given that the partying often meant missed call times. Furthermore, the comedians who were so often indisposed in the mornings were the reason his role in the movie was reduced.

Silent Film Star

In the original plan for Caddyshack, Director Harold Ramos envisioned Bill Murray’s character, Carl Spackler as being totally silent. Given that in the original script, the character was only set to appear in a small cameo, they never even bothered writing dialogue for him. However, once Murray came aboard, Ramis knew he was working with an improvisational genius and allowed Murray to go to town. Almost all of the character’s dialogue was made up by Murray on the spot.

Slippery Cindy

In the scene where Cindy Morgan’s character Lucy gets a massage from Chevy Chase, she had know idea what to expect, since Chase was another actor accustomed to figuring it out as he goes. One of their best unscripted moments happens as Ty pours oil down Lucy’s back. Morgan was surprised to feel the liquid oozing down her back, which prompted the very real reaction which she shouts at Ty, “You’re crazy!” The line ended up making the final cut.

Scaring The Youngins

In one of Bill Murray’s more memorable scenes, he improvises an entire monologue for the benefit of Peter Berkrat, who was playing a teenaged Angie D’Annunzio. As Carl expounded on suddenly finding himself the caddy for the Dalai Lama. While he spoke, he was holding a pitchfork in one hand, that would waver perilously towards Berkrat’s face. Making the whole scene even more nerve wracking, the pitchfork was very real and sharp. Berkrat’s discomfort was a genuine reaction to the story.

An Abundance Of Laughs

After Doug Kenney and Brian Doyle-Murry sat down and wrote their script, it clocked in at almost 250 pages. Most standard screenplays are roughly half that length, so the boys and Harold Ramis were tasked with the difficulty of cutting it down. Of course, much of the script ended up becoming obsolete once casting was completed as the core comedians in the film were adept improvisers, meaning the majority of their characters’ dialogue was spurted out off the cuff.

Gophering Gold

After filming wrapped and the production team began to edit, they find themselves in a bit of a narrative ditch after the editing process began. The film was shaping up to be a series of funny scenes centering around the core comedians, which let the narrative tying the story together fall by the wayside. The team decided to add in scenes of the gopher himself, which they shot completely independently with a puppet on a soundstage, which made a noticeable difference in sound quality between scenes.

A Fairytale Ending

Perhaps the most famous scene in the film, Bill Murray’s Cinderella monologue was entirely unscripted. Going off of two stage directions that suggested a kid narrating his own sports achievement, Murray managed to speak for 30 minutes while they were filming. Most was cut, but the line that stuck was, “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac . . . It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”

Down To Size

With all of the extra improvisation that took place during the shoot, the film was clocking in around 4 and a half hours, which is far too long. Another editor had to be brought in to assist Ramis in cutting the movie down to a manageable size because he found it difficult to cut any of the jokes out. Eventually though, something had to be left on the cutting room floor, and the team managed to put together a cohesive movie.

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