‘Stripes’ Was Shot in a Dry County in Kentucky, So John Candy Filled His Bathtub with Beer

‘Beer’s not alcohol’
‘Stripes’ Was Shot in a Dry County in Kentucky, So John Candy Filled His Bathtub with Beer

Rich Eisen recently asked Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F star Judge Reinhold to verify an urban legend. Did John Candy keep a bathtub full of beer in his hotel room during the filming of the 1981 comedy Stripes because the movie was being made in a dry county in Kentucky? 

“Correct,” Reinhold responded. “Very correct.”

Reinhold had to explain to Candy, “who was like the king of Molson,” what a dry county was. Apparently, there’s no such thing in Candy’s native Canada. “So when I first told him, ‘No, a dry county is a place in the United States where you can’t buy alcohol,’” Reinhold explained. “He was like, ‘Yeah, right.’” 

Candy couldn’t wrap his Canuck brain around the concept. “What do you mean, the weather is dry? What are you talking about?’”

“I said, ‘You can’t buy alcohol in this county.’”

Candy was still baffled. “Beer’s not alcohol.”

That Kentucky county normally was booze-free, but not when Candy was in town. The filming location was about an hour away from Louisville, “in the middle of nowhere,” according to Reinhold. After Candy figured out the situation, he enlisted the Teamsters to provide some liquid refreshment. Candy “got an adjoining room and that was the party room,” Reinhold said. “He just kept a bathtub full of ice and beer for us and that was where we hung out.”


The party room was also where the cast practiced their Army training — the classic scene where Candy, Reinhold and Bill Murray showed off their razzle-dazzle moves. The props “were all wooden rifles,” Reinhold said, “but there was a lot of spinning involved. There were big cracks and holes in Candy’s ceiling because we kept losing the rifles.” 

Reinhold says Stripes was his comedy college, but it was almost a different movie altogether. “It was originally Cheech and Chong Goes to the Army,” he revealed. That deal fell through and Columbia Pictures turned to Ivan Reitman, who’d just directed Murray in Meatballs. Cheech and Chong became Murray and Harold Ramis, who helped Reitman make up the comedy as they went along. 

“We would block the scenes, decide where everybody was going, set up the lighting and then Harold and Bill would go into Harold’s trailer and come out with the most outrageous stuff,” he said. “Even Candy would put his head down to keep from laughing. I put my hands in my pockets and would squeeze my thighs so hard to keep from laughing because we’d never heard it before.”

Other times, Murray would “go off like some kind of comic beat poet,” Reinhold said. “We were just crying.”


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