Back in the days when filming drug-addled comedy legends playing golf and razzing snooty rich guys equaled box office gold, we got Caddyshack, the classic 1980 comedy directed by Harold Ramis. As entertaining as the film might be to people who didn’t grow up when the internet existed, the behind-the-scenes details are perhaps even more entertaining…
The ‘Caddyshack’ Pitch Was Created on the Fly Because An Idea About Neo-Nazis Was Rejected
Co-writers Doug Kenney and Ramis’ original pitch to producer (and noted Hollywood nut) Jon Peters was about the time neo-Nazis tried to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie, which, admittedly, sounds less hilarious. When the project made its way to the studio, they rejected it, fearing that it could attract bomb threats. In desperation, the pair pitched a whole new idea: Caddyshack, based on their pal Brian Doyle-Murray’s stories about working at a country club in his youth — only enlisting Doyle-Murray as a co-writer after the film got the go-ahead.
The Script Left Gaps for Bill Murray’s Improv
Obviously, Murray did a lot of improv in the film — but this was also baked into the script itself. The writers reportedly left “blank chunks” in the screenplay that simply read “Bill riffs here.”
The Gopher Was Added in Reshoots
Since the original cut of the film was a four-hour, cocaine-fueled mess, the producers figured that the only way to fix the movie was by reshooting more footage with the wacky gopher, who was originally in just one scene, thus creating a “through line” for the film other than implied off-screen cocaine use.
The Animatronic Gopher Was Created By a Visual Effects Legend
While originally considering casting a live animal, such as a “trained ferret,” the production instead used an animatronic gopher. Of course, animatronic gophers don’t just grow on artificial trees; they had to have one painstakingly built “at great cost” by future Oscar-winner John Dykstra, who had helped create the visual effects for Star Wars a few years earlier.
Murray’s Carl Spackler Voice Grew Out of a Recurring Prank
Murray would use his “honker” voice to randomly shout non-sequiturs at strangers on the street, such as: “Watch out! There’s a lobster on the loose!”
Production Was Delayed By a Hurricane
Production of Caddyshack in South Florida had to be halted due to Hurricane David, a devastating Category-2 storm that forced the cast and crew to take refuge and, you guessed it, do more cocaine.
They Filmed Massive Explosions Without Permission
At the end of the movie, Spackler famously blows the shit out of the gopher holes with plastic explosives. The owners of the real golf club location, Rolling Hills, apparently “wouldn’t allow it.” So Peters invited the Rolling Hills brass to dinner and a “scenic boat ride,” supposedly as a thank you. But really, it was to divert their attention while the production secretly filmed the explosion scene — which was so “intense” that a nearby pilot “thought a plane had crashed.”
Rodney Dangerfield Wouldn’t Respond to ‘Action’
When Ramis yelled “action” during Dangerfield’s first scene, the comedian, then a relative novice in the world of film acting, “didn’t react.” He asked, “You mean do my bit?” So instead of “Action!,” Ramis said, “Rodney, do your bit” for all his scenes.
The Murray Brothers Have a Caddyshack-Themed Restaurant Chain
Murray and his brothers opened Murray Bros. Caddyshack in 2001 and added a second location in 2019 — some of the menu items are even named after characters, such as “Noonan’s Nachos” and “Loomis Hummus.”
The Comic Leads Were Inspired By the Marx Brothers
Ramis saw Murray’s character as a kind of a Harpo Marx figure — and rounding out the Marx Brothers stand-ins, Chevy Chase was Ramis’ Chico (a smart-mouthed womanizer), and Rodney Dangerfield was clearly the Groucho of the group.
A Crew Member Sued a Documentary for Claiming That He Was An On-Set Spy
In 2011, Caddyshack’s production manager Rusty Lemorande filed a $6 million lawsuit against the producers of the documentary Caddyshack: The Inside Story for “alleging that he acted as a spy” during the production, narcing on the cast and crew to the studio. He claimed that this wasn’t the case and would have been cleared up in deleted interview footage in which he stated, “What happens in Florida stays in Florida.”
Jon Peters Tried to Turn a Sex Scene Into a Playboy Shoot
Further proving that Kevin Smith does not have the worst Peters story, during the filming of a sex scene featuring actress Cindy Morgan, Peters tried to bring a photographer from Playboy to the set to spring an impromptu photo shoot on the actress. While she had agreed to be topless for the scene, Morgan had in no way signed up for this shoot and argued with Peters, who “bullied her and threatened to sabotage her career.” Co-star Michael O’Keefe and Ramis backed her up, and Peters’ shifty plan was eventually thwarted.
Two Children Ruined the Swimming Pool Scene Forever
One of the most famous scenes in the movie is the swimming pool freak-out, where a Baby Ruth bar is mistaken for “doody,” causing mass panic:
Unfortunately, like many great movie moments, science has now ruined this scene; an experiment conducted by two children on YouTube (which, to be fair, was not peer-reviewed) concluded that the chocolate bar in question wouldn’t actually float.
There Is a (Terrible) Alternate Ending
Caddyshack nearly ended with caddy Danny Noonan at the airport headed for college — but then he bails on academia in order to hop a plane and “follow a babe headed to Jamaica.” As for the ending we got…
The Final Line Was An Ad-Lib That Makes ‘Absolutely No Sense’
Perhaps not surprisingly, the final line of the movie, in which Dangerfield randomly shouts, “Hey everybody! We’re all gonna get laid” was an ad-lib by Dangerfield. As Ramis later recounted: “It was a totally improvised line that I can’t believe I left in the movie. It makes absolutely no sense.” Luckily the dancing gopher and the dulcet sounds of Kenny Loggins helped smooth things over.
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