On the making of Caddyshack and the definition of Gonzo


Here in Tampa, the Tampa Theatre Summer Film series continues this weekend with a showing on Sunday, June 21st, of Caddyshack at 3:00 p.m. One of my favorite comedies, I was surprised to uncover a few factoids I didn’t know about the making of Caddyshack. Here they are:

1) Harold Ramis co-wrote Animal House and due to the strength of that hit movie, he was given the go-ahead for Caddyshack. Bill Murray’s brother, Brian Doyle Murray, also co-wrote the script. Brian was a caddy at one time, as was Bill Murray.
2) Don Rickles was the first choice for the Rodney Dangerfield role of businessman Al Czervik. Dangerfield had never had a major role in a film until Caddyshack and reportedly, he was nervous throughout the shoot.
3) Caddyshack was Ramis’ directorial debut in 1980. Harold Ramis, who died in 2014, went on to direct many hit comedies such as National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase and Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.
4) Caddyshack was filmed in Davie, Fl at Rolling Hills Country Club. Rolling Hills was one of the few clubs to allow movie production on the grounds.
5) Bill Murray’s role of groundskeeper Carl Spackler was planned as a quick cameo appearance, but he stole the show improvising his scenes! His famous lines, the Dalai Lama speech and the Cinderella story speech were improvised on the spot. The Cinderella speech was written as “Carl cuts the tops of flowers with a grass whip”.
6) Caddyshack quickly evolved from a coming-of-age story featuring actor Michael O’Keefe as Danny Noonan into a Marx Brothers style ensemble film. According to director Ramis, he thought of Dangerfield as Groucho, Murray as Harpo and Chevy Chase as Chico.
7) The Caddyshack Gopher was an after-thought. It was expanded to tie the sequences together and bring some cohesion to the plot. Star Wars veteran special-effects master John Dykstra created the gopher imaging after principal photography ended. The Gopher’s voice was supplied by the same sound-effects used for Flipper in the TV series!
8) The New York Times called the film Caddyshack “immediately forgettable”.
9) About Bill Murray: After leaving SNL, where he replaced Chevy Chase in Season 2, Bill Murray went on to become a huge star with hits in Stripes, Ghostbusters 1 & 2, What about Bob?, & Groundhog Day. He’s known in Hollywood for his eccentric behavior.
Murray has no agent, only a phone number where you must leave a message for him to get in touch.
In 2003, Murray scored a hit with Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and subsequently transitioned into a career appearing in “Indie” films. Since then, he has collaborated with independent director Wes Anderson in the past decade, appearing in some capacity in most of Anderson’s films.
His latest films of note include Hyde Park on Hudson, in which he played President FDR, the critically acclaimed St. Vincent from 2014, and the highly anticipated upcoming  Rock the Kasbah.

B murray cartoon

10) Many have described Bill Murray as a “Gonzo Comedian”. The definition of Gonzo states it is “a strange or unusual quality-bizarre; freewheeling or unconventional, to the point of outrageousness”.